The relaunched XFL is gearing up for its first season, and they’re starting to announce more and more of their initial player pool. There are a lot of ex-NFL guys in the mix, and we’ll get to that in just a bit, but at least one notable college player is looking to jump right in. Former West Virginia safety Kenny Robinson is entering the XFL draft pool, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. Robinson was dismissed from West Virginia for academic fraud earlier this year. Florio writes that he was “considered a likely draft choice,” but hadn’t been in school long enough to be eligible for the NFL, which requires you to be three years removed from high school graduation.
That left Robinson with the options of looking for a new school to play at, or entering an alternative pro league. “Now they can see how I hold up mentally and physically,” Robinson told Andy Staples of The Athletic. “They’ll see me playing against guys who have actually been in the NFL and done it.” Robinson will be an early test case for what the XFL is hoping more players opt to do. Ever since they announced they were coming back, the XFL has attempted to position itself as a league for talented high school and college players to consider as an alternative to the NCAA. As Florio notes, Robinson will be eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft. In 12 games for the Mountaineers last year he had 77 tackles and four interceptions, earning a first-team All-Big 12 nod.
And now, onto the NFL alums:
- In the first group of players that the league announced on Twitter, a few names jumped out. Former Michigan State and Raiders quarterback Connor Cook is on the list. Cook was drafted by Oakland in the fourth-round back in 2016, and even ended up starting a playoff game for them that year after injuries to Derek Carr and Matt McGloin. He spent 2017 as a third-stringer and was released at final cuts the following year. He was briefly with the Lions earlier this offseason, but was waived back in June.
- Everybody’s favorite kicker Roberto Aguayo was also on the list, as were running backs David Cobb and Jonas Gray. Aguayo, of course, was infamously drafted by the Buccaneers in the second-round back in 2016. He lasted only one year as the Bucs’ kicker despite his draft status, and has become a punchline ever since. Cobb had a brief run as the Titans’ lead back in 2015, but never did anything after that. He most recently played in the AAF with the San Antonio Commanders. Gray was with the Patriots in 2014, and won Super Bowl XLIX with the team. Gray randomly had an absurd week in November of that year, rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns. He quickly fell out of favor, and was released by New England the following year. He hasn’t even been in a training camp since 2016.
- Earlier Tuesday, the XFL posted to Twitter their second batch of players. Among the notable names was receiver Ryan Broyles, a second-round pick of the Lions back in 2012. Broyles, a legendary Oklahoma player, showed some promise as a rookie, but injuries derailed his career after that. He last appeared in a regular season game in 2014. There were also a few interesting specialists on the list in longsnapper Nate Boyer, punter Jeff Locke, and kicker Nick Novak. Boyer spent six years in the military and served in Afghanistan and Iraq before becoming a walk-on at Texas. He spent the 2015 offseason with the Seahawks, but was ultimately released. Notably, he is the player who advised Colin Kaepernick to kneel rather than sit during the national anthem. Locke spent four seasons as the Vikings’ punter. Novak is a veteran NFL kicker who spent over a decade in the league from 2005-20017. Ronald Ollie, one of the stars of the popular Netflix show ‘Last Chance U’, is also on the list.