When the XFL announced the eight teams that will start the 2020 season, there was an idea in place on how to grow upon said teams. In the case someone was injured or someone was just going to be given a shot, where would they find an athlete to compete on short notice? A blueprint was mocked up and now the concept is officially rendered. Team 9 officially has a roster, coach and a plan.
Commissioner Oliver Luck unveiled several holdover players that will make up Team 9, an extra squad with players ready and willing to fill up roster spots at a moment’s notice. Headed by the Director of Scouting Eric Galko, Team 9 will be housed in Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, where the Renegades play.
“In every football league, there is constant churn,” said XFL CEO and Commissioner Oliver Luck in a press release. “I’m sure every one of these rosters is going to change by the time Week 1 rolls around. They’ll bring in new guys or someone pulls a hamstring, it’s just inevitable. So Team 9 will be ready to roll as a replacement team that’s got to be constantly replenished, so all these guys that got the bad news about getting cut, a bunch of them of them are going to be back in the league through Team 9.”
Here are the players assigned to Team 9:
* QB: Joe Callahan, Cj Collins, Garrett Fugate, Marcus McDade
* RB: Darnell Holland, Ray Lawry
* WR: Davon Grayson, TreyDonte Hill, Taivon Jacobs, Dalton Ponchilla, Andrew Verboys, Carl Whitley
* TE: Connor Davis, Pharaoh McKever
* OC: Ryan Anderson
* OG: Korren Kirven, Terronne Prescod
* OT – Nick Callander, Gerhard de Beer, Brandon Haskin, Patrick Lawrence
* DE: Jesse Aniebonam, Martin Ifedi, Alex Jenkins
* DT: Ahane Bowman, Andrew Stelter, Trenton Thompson
* LB: Darnell Leslie
* DB: Bryce Cheek, Reggie Cole, Marwin, Evans, Tyree Holder, Josh Jenkins, Jermaine Ponder, Robenson Therezie
Kickers, punters and long snappers will not be a part of Team 9.
Coaching Team 9 will be former offensive assistant Bart Andrus. He has worked in the NFL, CFL college and spring leagues. He also worked under Luck at NFL Europe, where he won an NFL Europe Championship as head coach of Amsterdam. Another head coaching experience Andrus has is as a member of the CFL.
The idea of an extra practice team was actually created under Luck’s tenure there from 1996-2000.
“It was lifted directly from my experience with NFL Europe,” Luck went on to say. “We literally called it ‘Team Dallas’ because it was in Dallas. The genesis of that was with teams in Europe, American players needed work permits. You couldn’t pick up a left tackle off the street in Scotland. We needed a group of guys who could practice and literally jump on a plane.”
How exactly will the team work? When a player leaves to join the main roster of an XFL team, there will always be a member available to maintain the 40-man Team 9 roster. Following Week 2, it will be a requirement to utilize Team 9 to fill an open roster spot. Practice will be key on Team 9, but it will not damage the player’s chances of making it to the main roster.
“Our objective is to teach them how to practice as a professional,” Andrus stated. “In pro football you go full speed, but you don’t hit or take anybody to the ground. They’re not hurting anybody on the field, but they’re keeping their bodies callused for football. We want to refine as much as we can the individual skill and technique. Just something as simple as a receiver actually catching the ball with his hands instead of taking it into his body. We’re going to keep them ready so when they get called up to an XFL team, they’re football-ready.”
Practices for Team 9 will begin on February 3 and private workouts will be available on the 10th. The relaunched XFL season is expected to start on February 8, the weekend after the Super Bowl.