One thing the rebooted XFL doesn't have an issue with is name recognition. Included in the league's upcoming season are several notable figures whose credentials include Pro Bowls, Super Bowl rings and Hall of Fame jackets.
Some teams have decided to give young, unproven players a shot at gridiron glory. Other teams have opted to go with former NFL veterans who may still have something to prove. Just about every team is hoping that one of its unproven quarterbacks ascends to help their franchise become a legitimate title contender.
As Week 1 kicks off this weekend, here's a look at the notable coaches and players who will be taking part in the XFL's 2023 season.
Coach Bob Stoops: Stoops became a household name after leading the Sooners to the 2000 national championship. Stoops, who as an interim coach in 2021 and led the Sooners to an Alamo Bowl win, won nearly 80% of his games at Oklahoma.
Stoops is now looking to add to his trophy case while serving as both the Renegades head coach and general manger.
While hesitant to make any bold predictions, Stoops did offer one nugget into what he expects to see from his team.
"One thing I do know though is this team will be exciting," he said, via the XFL's website. "All these guys have had great energy at every practice, and they have been a really tight group for having just come together. I really believe I got an incredible coaching staff on both sides of the ball, so you know we're going to put a good product on the field. I want this to be a fun, watchable team on both sides of the ball, and I know our fans expect that."
QB Kyle Sloter: The well-traveled Sloter has been employed by seven NFL teams that includes a recent stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He earned All-USFL honors last year after he led the New Orleans Breakers to the playoffs. He's a classic drop-back passer who -- when in rhythm -- can take over a game.
WR Sal Cannella: A former Auburn standout, Cannella flourished last year in the USFL. With Sloter as his quarterback, Cannella set a single-game league record by catching 12 passes for 154 yards. He's an athletic player who can turn short passes into big plays.
🚨 BREAKERS STRIKE FIRST 🚨— BarnBurner Sports (@BB__Sports) June 12, 2022
Zach Smith comes in at QB and throws it on a rope to TE Sam Canella
New Orleans up 6-0 halfway through the 2nd quarter
Coach Reggie Barlow: Barlow has done a little bit of everything during his football life. As a player, he once led the NFL in punt-return yards as a member of the Jaguars. He also won a Super Bowl ring with the 2002 Buccaneers. As a coach, Barlow coached at HBCU schools the past dozen years, most recently at Virginia State.
Working with and getting a chance to impact young men, Barlow said, is his favorite part of being a coach.
"I love the development of young men and this game correlates with life," he said. "There's adversity that goes on in it and it can teach you life lessons. I wanted into this league. And now that I'm here, I've got a team that's going to be fast furious and physical. We're going to play fast offensively defensively. We're gonna get guys delirious out there because we're gonna be playing so fast, and then we're gonna be extremely physical and we're gonna attack and be aggressive."
QB Jordan Ta'amu: Ta'amu has played for six NFL teams that includes multiple stints with the Lions and Chiefs. He was the Battlehawks' starting quarterback prior to the XFL closing its doors in 2020.
Ta'amu spent last spring with the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits. While his stats weren't great, Ta'amu did average over 200 passing yards per game while throwing more touchdowns (14) than interceptions (12). He also averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
RB Abram Smith: A bruiser at 220 pounds, Smith went undrafted last spring despite running for over 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns during his final season at Baylor. He ran for 172 yards in his final college game while helping Baylor defeat Ole Miss in the 2022 Sugar Bowl.
Smith spent time last year with the New Orleans Saints before being a late-summer roster cut.
Coach Wade Phillips: Phillips has seen it all during his 50-plus years as a coach. He coached under his father, Bum Phillips, as the Oilers' defensive line coach during the 1970s. Phillips helped Houston reach back-to-back AFC title games. Only the dynastic Steelers kept Phillips and the Oilers from playing in the Super Bowl.
Phillips eventually rose to become a head coach (he coached the Cowboys to a franchise record 13 regular-season wins in 2007) before winning his coveted Super Bowl ring as the Broncos' defensive coordinator in 2015. He made it back to the big game three years later as the Rams' defensive coordinator.
QB Cole McDonald: McDonald was prolific during his final season at Hawaii, where he threw for 4,135 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also ran for seven scores while displaying his athleticism.
McDonald had cups of coffee with the Titans and Cardinals before spending time in the CFL. He's looking to revive his career in the XFL.
QB Kaleb Eleby: Phillips has a good quarterback battle on his hands with McDonald and Eleby. While not as prolific, Eleby also enjoyed a fruitful final season in college. He completed nearly 64% of his throws with 23 touchdowns against seven interceptions for Western Michigan. Eleby also ran for six scores while leading the Broncos to a bowl win over Nevada.
Coach Terrell Buckley: This may be a stretch, but Buckley could probably fill in at cornerback in a pinch. He enjoyed a highly successful 14-year career that saw him pick off 50 passes while being a valued member of the Patriots' first championship team in 2001. Buckley has spent the past decade-plus as a position coach in the college ranks.
QB Paxton Lynch: Once upon a time, Lynch was the 26th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Things didn't pan out for Lynch in two seasons with the Broncos, but he's continued to keep his career alive as an NFL backup and as a member of other leagues.
Lynch was a prolific player at Memphis, where he threw 59 touchdowns and 23 picks in three seasons.
QB Deondre Francois: While he has no NFL experience, Francois played two years in Fan Controlled Football. He had 19 touchdowns with three interceptions in the indoor league along with three rushing touchdowns. Lynch started in half of his six games for the USFL's Michigan Panthers last season. He completed 65% of his throws with six touchdowns and five picks.
Francois' best football occurred early in his college career. He was tabbed as the ACC Offensive and Rookie of the Year as a redshirt freshman.
QB Mitch Kidd: Speaking of FCF, Kidd may have been its biggest star. He threw 18 touchdowns (against just five picks) in seven games in the league last year. He's a mobile player whose play style is similar to former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia.
San Antonio Brahmas
Coach Hines Ward: The Steelers' all-time career receiving leader, Ward is a first-time head coach after being a Steelers intern (2017), an offensive assistant with the Jets (2019-20) and Florida Atlantic's receivers coach (2021).
In Pittsburgh, Ward made a big impact on then-rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. That year, Smith-Schuster caught 58 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns en route to being tabbed as the Steelers' top rookie.
RB Kalen Ballage: Speaking of Pittsburgh, the Steelers were one of several teams Ballage played for during his NFL career. A physical back, Ballage scored 27 touchdowns during his four years at Arizona State.
QB Jack Coan: Coan, who briefly saw time last season with the Colts, started at both Wisconsin and Notre Dame during his college career. He enjoyed success during both stints that included going 11-2 as Notre Dame's starter in 2021. Coan threw 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions that season while completing 65.5% of his passes.
Seattle Sea Dragons
Coach Jim Haslett: A former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Haslett has enjoyed a 30-plus year career as a coach. The Saints head coach from 2000-05, Haslett led New Orleans to its first-ever playoff win.
Haslett has spent the majority of his career as a defensive assistant. His most recent stint was serving as the Titans' inside linebackers coach from 2020-21. He led a talented Steelers defense that helped Pittsburgh reach the AFC title game in 1997.
WR Josh Gordon: Gordon is hoping to revive his career after suspensions limited his availability in the NFL. When available, Gordon was a highly productive player who in 2013 earned All-Pro honors after leading the league in receiving yards. He received a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Patriots in 2018.
QB Ben DiNucci: It was only a game, but DiNucci can say that he started in a regular-season game for the Dallas Cowboys. He was sacked four times while throwing for 180 yards in a loss to Washington. He started his college career at Pitt before spending two years at James Madison. DiNucci earned All-America honors during his final season at JMU after leading the nation in completion percentage.
St. Louis Battlehawks
Coach Anthony Becht: A former first-round pick, Becht enjoyed a 12-year playing career at tight end. His only prior coaching experience came as the tight ends coach in the Alliance of American Football.
QB A.J. McCarron: St. Louis has the league's most experienced quarterback in McCarron, a former NFL starter who led Alabama to consecutive national titles. McCarron split his four NFL starts and nearly led the Bengals to a win over the Steelers in the wild card round of the 2015 playoffs.
WR Marcell Ateman: A former seventh-round pick, Ateman caught 20 passes during his three years with the Raiders. In college, Ateman had a solid career at Oklahoma State, where as a senior he caught 59 passes for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns.
WR Darrius Shepherd: Shepherd's success at North Dakota State helped him being invited to the Packers' rookie minicamp in 2019. He spent parts of two seasons in Green Bay before spending time with five other teams. He spent last spring in the USFL with the New Jersey Generals, where he caught 27 passes for 335 yards and a score.
Las Vegas Vipers
Coach Rod Woodson: Hall of Fame coach Bill Cowher has often called Woodson the greatest athlete he coached during his 15 years with the Steelers. A Hall of Fame defensive back, Woodson got into coaching as an intern in 2010 and worked his way up go being the Raiders' defensive backs coach by the 2017 season.
LB Vic Beasley: A former first-round pick, Beasley is a former All-Pro who played a big role in the Falcons' NFC title run in 2016. He led the NFL with 15.5 sacks and six forces fumbles that season while also scoring a touchdown on a fumble return. But after tallying eight sacks in 2019, Beasley didn't record a sack in 2020 and has not been on an NFL roster since.
RB Matt Jones: A 2015 third-round pick, Jones ran for 964 yards and six touchdowns in three NFL seasons. Jones, who played for the Battlehawks in 2020, averaged 4.8 yards per carry during his time at Florida.
WR Martavis Bryant: Bryant's NFL career was derailed by suspensions for marijuana use. When available, Bryant was a dynamic player who helped the Steelers win games. He caught seven touchdown passes as a rookie and had 194 all-purpose yards in Pittsburgh's divisional round playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos in 2015.