20 USFL players to watch heading into the 2022 football season in Birmingham

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News

The United States Football League is getting closer to kickoff. With Week 1 of the season starting April 16, here are 20 players to watch during the 2022 USFL season:

Birmingham Stallions

Sage Surratt, tight end, Wake Forest: The brother of Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chazz Surratt, Sage is getting his shot in the USFL after converting from wide receiver.

Josh Shaw, defensive back, USC: After four seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Shaw makes his return to football following a gambling suspension from the NFL.

Scooby Wright III, linebacker, Arizona: Wright led the nation in tackles and tackles for loss with the Wildcats in 2014 and looks to continue his football career in Birmingham.

Brandon Aubrey, kicker, Notre Dame: Aubrey is a former college soccer star for the Fighting Irish looking to make the transition to football in the USFL.

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Houston Gamblers

Anthony Ratliff-Williams, wide receiver, North Carolina: Ratliff-Williams was one of the best return men in the country in 2017, earning first-team All-ACC honors as a return specialist.

William Likely, defensive back, Maryland: Likely was a first-team All-Big Ten performer on both defense and special teams in 2015.

Michigan Panthers

Paxton Lynch, quarterback, Memphis: A first-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos in 2016, Lynch fizzled out after four starts in Denver and looks to revitalize his football career for Michigan.

Marquell Harrell, offensive guard, Auburn: A former SEC academic honor roll student for the Tigers, Harrell will be making his pro football debut this spring.

New Jersey Generals

Calvin Ashley, offensive tackle, Florida A&M: A former Auburn signee who also spent time with Florida Atlantic before ending up at Florida A&M, Ashley makes his return to football after retiring from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021.

Christian Tutt, defensive back, Auburn: Tutt went undrafted in 2021, but got a second chance when New Jersey took him in the USFL supplemental draft.

New Orleans Breakers

Davin Bellamy, defensive end, Georgia: A highly-touted recruit out of Atlanta, Bellamy was a part of a Bulldogs team that won the SEC in 2017.

Sal Cannella, tight end, Auburn: Cannella played three seasons as a wide receiver and tight end for the Tigers before going undrafted in 2020.

Pittsburgh Maulers

Charles Baldwin, offensive tackle, Youngstown State: Baldwin spent a spring camp at Alabama before being dismissed from the team and was rostered at Kansas and Youngstown State leading to his USFL debut.

Isaiah Battle, offensive tackle, Clemson: A fifth-round pick in the NFL supplemental draft by the then-St. Louis Rams, Battle has bounced from team to team in his pro career, most recently with the Seattle Dragons of the XFL.

Jeff Thomas, wide receiver, Miami (Fla.): Thomas had a tumultuous college career, including a dismissal from the Hurricanes, but is expected to play his first football game in more than two years with Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia Stars

Bradley Sylve, defensive back, Alabama: The USFL marks the fourth pro league for Sylve, who has also spent time in the NFL, the Alliance of American Football, and the XFL.

Auburn receiver Quan Bray (4) and Alabama defender Bradley Sylve (3) battle for a third-quarter pass during the No. 1 Crimson Tide's 55-44 win over the No. 16 Tigers.

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Gabriel Sewell, linebacker, Nevada: Sewell comes from a football family, with younger brother Penei starting on the offensive line for the Detroit Lions, with his brothers Noah and Nephi playing linebacker at Oregon and Utah, respectively.

Tampa Bay Bandits

John Franklin III, wide receiver, Florida Atlantic: A former Auburn quarterback and "Last Chance U" star, Franklin most recently won a Super Bowl ring with the Buccaneers.

BJ Emmons, running back, Florida Atlantic: An Alabama transfer, Emmons was on the practice squad of three different NFL teams this past season but did not make the roster for any of them.

Mekhi Brown, defensive end, Tennessee State: Another Alabama transfer, Brown won the 2017 national championship with the Crimson Tide before playing for two seasons at TSU.