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Meet the Defenders defense

The first 70-man DC Defenders roster is finally here. The 2020 XFL Draft is in the books, and with the first game of the 2020 XFL season being held at Audi Field on Saturday, Feb. 8, the season is starting to come into focus.

The DC Defenders offense is loaded with national champions and an iconic college quarterback.

The Defenders defense is no different. Former NFL Draft picks, All-Americans, national champions and Super Bowl champions make up the defensive roster.

With names like Matt Elam, Scooby Wright, Rahim Moore and Bradley Sylve, the DC Defenders’ defense is set to be an imposing force in the XFL.

Defensive Line

Jake Ceresna

College: Cortland (2013-2015), Southern Connecticut State (2012)
Hometown: New Fairfield, Conn.
Height/Weight: 6-5/295
Previous Stops: New York Jets (2016), Ottawa Redblacks (2017), Edmonton Eskimos (2018), New York Giants (2019)

Accomplishments: Named to Second Team All-East, Second Team All-ECAC North and First Team All-Empire 8 as a senior. Finished his three-year career at Cortland with 142 tackles and 14.5 sacks.

KeShun Freeman

College: Georgia Tech (2014-2017)
Hometown: Hogansville, Ga.
Height/Weight: 6-2/250
Previous Stops: New Orleans Saints (2017-18), Atlanta Legends (2019)

Accomplishments: Played in all 50 games during his college career, including 45 starts. Was named team captain as a senior. Named to the 2016 AFCA Allstate Good Works team and was a semifinalist for the 2017 Jason Witten Man of the Year award. Earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors as a freshman.

Sam Montgomery

College: LSU (2010-2012)
Hometown: Greenwood, S.C.
Height/Weight: 6-3/270
Previous Stops: No. 95 overall (3rd Round) pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Houston Texans (2013), Oakland Raiders (2013), Cincinnati Bengals (2014-15), Edmonton Eskimos (2015-16), Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2017), Massachusetts Pirates (2018), Memphis Express (2019)

Accomplishments: Named an All-American following his sophomore season in which he led the team with nine sacks. Montgomery also earned All-SEC honors his sophomore and junior seasons. Finished his three-year college career with 104 tackles, 19 sacksd and three forced fumbles.

Elijah Qualls

College: Washington (2014-16)
Hometown: Petaluma, Calif.
Height/Weight: 6-1/320
Previous Stops: No. 214 overall (6th Round) pick in 2017 NFL Draft. Philadelphia Eagles (2017), Carolina Panthers (2018-19), Baltimore Ravens (2019), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019)

Accomplishments: Qualls was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII championship team. Was named First Team All-Pac-12 as a junior. Recorded six tackles in the Huskies’ 2016 CFB Playoff loss to Alabama in the Peach Bowl.

Kristjan Sokoli

College: Buffalo (2011-2014)
Hometown: Bloomfield, N.J.
Height/Weight: 6-5/302
Previous Stops: No. 214 overall (6th Round) pick in 2015 NFL Draft. Seattle Seahawks (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2016), New Orleans Saints (2017), New York Giants (2017-18)

Accomplishments: Originally born in Puke, Albania, he came the first Albanian-born player in NFL history. Played on the same defensive line as Khalil Mack. Registered 95 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumbles in four seasons at Buffalo.

Tracy Sprinkle

College: Ohio State (2014-17)
Hometown: Elyria, Ohio
Height/Weight: 6-2/295
Previous Stops: Carolina Panthers (2017), Atlanta Legends (2019), Cleveland Browns (2019), Houston Texans (2019)

Accomplishments: A member of the Buckeyes’ 2015 CFP National Championship squad. Named as a defensive captain his senior year. Was high school and college teammates with Defenders OL Chase Farris.


Koa Farmer

College: Penn State (2015-18)
Hometown: Lake View Terrace, Calif.
Height/Weight: 6-1/230
Previous Stops: Oakland Raiders (2019)

Accomplishments: Full name is Joshua-Kekoa Jamal Farmer. Kekoa means “Brave Warrior.” Named to Butkus Award Preseason Watch list as a senior. Won the Ridge Riley Memorial Award for sportsmanship. Was college teammates with Defenders WR De’Andre Thompkins.

A.J. Tarpley

College: Stanford (2011-14)
Hometown: Plymouth, Minn.
Height/Weight: 6-2/238
Previous Stops: Buffalo Bills (2015), San Diego Fleet (2019)

Accomplishments:  Named to the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Award Watch List as a senior. A two-time All-Pac-12 honoree. A two-time Pac-12 champion, recorded 15 tackles in two Rose Bowl game appearances. 

Scooby Wright

College: Arizona (2013-15)
Hometown: Windsor, Calif.
Height/Weight: 6-0/240
Previous Stops: No. 250 overall (7th Round) pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Cleveland Browns (2016), Arizona Cardinals (2016-17), Arizona Hotshots (2019), New England Patriots (2019)

Accomplishments: Named All-America, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and won the Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award, Lambert Award and Bednarik Award as a sophomore. Finished ninth in the 2014 Heisman Trophy voting. Also in 2014, Wright tied the Arizona single-season record with 29 tackles for a loss.


Reggie Cole

College: Mary Hardin-Baylor (2015-2018)
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-2/185

Accomplishments: A member of the 2015 and 2018 D-III National Championship-winning team at Mary Hardin-Baylor. Named as a D-III All-American his senior year. Transitioned from WR to CB as a freshman.

Doran Grant

College: Ohio State (2011-2014)
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Height/Weight: 5-11/192
Previous Stops: No. 121 overall (4th Round) pick in 2015 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh Steelers (2015), Buffalo Bills (2016), New York Giants (2016), Jacksonville Jaguars (2016-17), Chicago Bears (2017-18), Arizona Hotshots (2019), Atlanta Legends (2019)

Accomplishments: Started all but two games in four seasons at Ohio State. Was the starting cornerback for the Buckeyes’ 2014 CFP National Championship-winning team. Finished his college career with 140 tackles and nine interceptions. 

Jaylen Myrick

College: Minnesota (2013-2016)
Hometown: Bloomingdale, Ga.
Height/Weight: 5-10/200
Previous Stops: No. 222 overall (7th Round) pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Jacksonville Jaguars (2017), Minnesota Vikings (2018), Atlanta Falcons (2019)

Accomplishments: Named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention as a junior. Ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Draft Combine, the fastest time among all cornerbacks.

Bradley Sylve

College: Alabama (2012-2015)
Hometown: Port Sulphur, La.
Height/Weight: 6-0/180
Previous Stops: Buffalo Bills (2017), New Orleans Saints (2017-18), Birmingham Iron (2019)

Accomplishments: Sylve was a member of two National Championship-winning Crimson Tide squads. He tore his Achilles tendon just a day before the 2016 Alabama Pro Day. A two-time Louisiana state track and field champion in both the 100 and 200 meters.

Tavaris Barnes

College: Clemson (2011-2014)
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Height/Weight: 6-2/270
Previous Stops: New Orleans Saints (2015), Seattle Seahawks (2016), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2017), Washington Redskins (2017-18), Atlanta Legends (2019)

Accomplishments: Played behind Vic Beasley. Finished his collegiate career with 64 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and a fumble return for a touchdown. Invited to the 2014 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.


Matt Elam

College: Florida (2010-12)
Hometown: Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Height/Weight: 5-10/210
Previous Stops: No. 32 overall (1st Round) pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Baltimore Ravens (2013-16), Saskatchewan Roughriders (2018)

Accomplishments: Named the Gaortabde High School Football Player of the Year and Mr. Football in the state of Florida. Was named to First Team All-American and All-SEC as a junior. Was a semifinalist for both the Thorpe and Bednarik Awards. Finished his college career with 176 tackles, six interceptions and three forced fumbles in 39 games.

Rahim Moore

College: UCLA (2008-10)
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Previous Stops: No. 45 overall (2nd Round) pick in 2011 NFL Draft. Denver Broncos (2011-14), Houston Texans (2015), Cleveland Browns (2016), New York Giants (2017), Arizona Hotshots (2019)

Accomplishments: Named to All-Pac-10 Freshman team and a two-time First Team All-Pac-10 member. Moore led the nation with 10 interceptions as a sophomore, including one in the 2009 EagleBank Bowl in Annapolis, MD. Was a starter for the 2013 Denver Broncos team that lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round.

Tre Sullivan

College: Shepherd (2013-16)
Hometown: Brandywine, Md.
Height/Weight: 6-0/200
Previous Stops: Philadelphia Eagles (2017-18)

Accomplishments: Named to First Team All-MEC his junior and senior seasons, named a D-II All-American as a senior. Was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles team that defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

DC Defenders Roster: Defense

DE: Tavaris Barnes, Clemson (2011-2014). 6-3, 270 lbs.
DE: Jake Ceresna Cortland (2013-2015), Southern Connecticut State (2012). 6-5, 295 lbs.
DE: KeShun Freeman, Georgia Tech (2014-2017). 6-2, 250 lbs.
DE: Charles Harris, Buffalo (2015-2018). 6-4, 265 lbs.
DE: Sam Montgomery, LSU (2010-2012). 6-3, 260 lbs.

DT: Siupeli Anau, Northern Arizona (2014-2017), Scottsdale CC (2012-2013). 6-3, 250 lbs.
DT: Josh Augusta, Missouri (2013-2016). 6-4, 300 lbs.
DT: Daryle Banfield, Brown (2015-2018). 6-3, 300 lbs.
DT: Du'vonta Lampkin, Oklahoma (2016-2017). 6-4, 325 lbs
DT: Elijah Qualls, Washington (2014-2016). 6-1, 320 lbs
DT: Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo (2011-2014). 6-5, 302 lbs.
DT: Tracy Sprinkle, Ohio State (2014-2017). 6-2, 295 lbs.

LB: Jonathan Celestin, Minnesota (2014-2017). 6-1, 230 lbs.
LB: Koa Farmer, Penn State (2015-2018). 6-1, 230 lbs.
LB: Jordan Jones, Kentucky (2015-2018). 6-2, 218 lbs.
LB: AJ Tarpley, Stanford (2011-2014). 6-2, 238 lbs.
LB: Jameer Thurman, Indiana State (2013-2016). 6-0, 230 lbs.
LB: James Vaughters, Stanford (2011-2014). 6-2, 245 lbs.
LB: Scooby Wright, Arizona (2013-2015). 6-0, 240 lbs.

CB: Elijah Campbell. Northern Iowa (2016-2017), Northern Illinois (2015), Iowa Western (2014). 5-11, 195 lbs.
CB: Reggie Cole, Mary Hardin-Baylor (2015-2018). 6-2, 185 lbs.
CB: Doran Grant, Ohio State (2011-2014). 5-11, 192 lbs.
CB: Ladarius Gunter, Miami (2012-2014), Fort Scott CC (2011). 6-2, 198 lbs.
CB: Desmond Lawrence, North Carolina (2013-2016). 6-1, 185 lbs.
CB: Jalen Myrick, Minnesota (2013-2016). 5-10, 200 lbs.
CB: Bradley Sylve, Alabama (2012-2015). 6-0, 180 lbs.

S: Matt Elam, Florida (2010-2012). 5-10, 210 lbs.
S: Tyree Kinnel, Michigan (2015-2018). 5-11, 210 lbs.
S: Carlos Merritt, Campbell (2015-2017), South Carolina State (2014). 6-0, 195 lbs.
S: Rahim Moore, UCLA (2008-2010). 6-1, 200 lbs.
S: Tre Sullivan, Shepherd (2013-2016). 6-0, 200 lbs.

LS: Brian Khoury, Carnegie Mellon (2013-2016), 6-4, 245 lbs.
P: Hunter Niswander, Northwestern (2014-2017), 6-4, 243 lbs.