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Defenders Roster: Get to know the offense

The 2020 XFL season begins on Saturday, Feb. 8, with the DC Defenders hosting the Seattle Dragons at Audi Field. But with the first game still three months away, it’s time to begin to get familiar with the players you will be rooting for when the Defenders take the field for the very first time.

The Defenders, along with the seven other XFL teams, held the 2020 XFL Draft in mid-October, with each squad building out a 70-man roster. Prior to the draft, the Defenders were assigned former National Championship-winning quarterback Cardale Jones as their franchise quarterback. When the draft came, the Defenders were given the first pick in the skill position Phase, selecting James Madison speedster Rashard Davis.

But Jones and Davis are just two of the players that will make up the Defenders’ potent offense. The Defenders’ offensive roster is loaded with standout college players who set records and won championships. 

With training camp roughly a month away, it’s time to get to know the DC Defenders offensive players.

Quarterback

Cardale Jones

  • College: Ohio State (2013-2015)
  • Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Height/Weight: 6-5/250
  • Previous Stops: No. 139 overall pick (4th round) in 2016 NFL Draft. Buffalo Bills (2016), Los Angeles Chargers (2017-2018), Seattle Seahawks (2019)

Accomplishments: Starting quarterback for first-ever college football playoff national champion. MVP of 2014 Big Ten Championship. 3-0 as a starter his sophomore year at Ohio State, picking up wins in the Big Ten Championship Game, CFP Semifinal and CFP National Championship Game. 11-0 as a collegiate starting QB. Finished Ohio State career with 2,322 passing yards and 15 TDs to 7 interceptions.

Tyree Jackson

  • College: Buffalo (2016-2018)
  • Hometown: Norton Shores, Mich.
  • Height/Weight: 6-7/249
  • Previous Stops: Buffalo Bills (2019)

Accomplishments: Named MVP of 2019 Senior Bowl. Named 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year. First player in Buffalo history to be named to Davey O’Brien National QB Award watch list. Was an All-Academic MAC selection as a sophomore. Became first Buffalo freshman to throw for over 300 yards in a single game.

Running Back

Khalid Abdullah

  • College: James Madison (2013-2016)
  • Hometown: Newport News, Va.
  • Height/Weight: 5-10/211
  • Previous Stops: New York Giants (2017)

Accomplishments: Named Most Outstanding Player in 2016 FCS National Championship Game and named to FCS Second Team All-American. Abdullah also led all of FCS in rushing touchdowns, rushing yards and total touchdowns and set a JMU single-season record for rushing yards, rushing TDs, scoring and total touchdowns in 2016.

Jhurell Pressley

  • College: New Mexico (2012-15)
  • Hometown: Newark, Del.
  • Height/Weight: 5-10/205
  • Previous Stops: Minnesota Vikings (2016), Green Bay Packers (2016), Atlanta Falcons (2016-2017), Jacksonville Jaguars (2017), New York Giants (2018), Arizona Hotshots (2019)

Accomplishments: Pressley led the nation with a 9.5 yards-per-carry average his redshirt junior season at New Mexico. Pressley’s 35 rushing touchdowns rank him second all-time in New Mexico history. 

Donnel Pumphrey

  • College: San Diego State (2013-16)
  • Hometown: North Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Height/Weight: 5-8/176
  • Previous Stops: No. 132 overall (4th round) pick in 2017 NFL Draft. Philadelphia Eagles (2017), Detroit Lions (2018), Philadelphia Eagles (2018-2019)

Accomplishments: Pumphrey is the NCAA all-time leader in rushing yards (6,405), surpassing Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne in the final game of his collegiate career. Pumphrey was named a First Team All-American in 2016. He was drafted by the Eagles with the No. 132 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and was a member of the Philadelphia team that defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

John Thomas

  • College: Penn State (2015-2018)
  • Hometown: Peabody, Mass.
  • Height/Weight: 6-3/240
  • Previous Stops: Cincinnati Bengals (2019)

Accomplishments: Won the Iron Lion Award for strength and conditioning. Played linebacker as well as running back. Finished with just 342 all-purpose yards in college but had a run of 69 yards and a kick return of 94 yards.

Ryan Yurachek

  • College: Marshall (2014-2017)
  • Hometown: Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Height/Weight: 6-3/240
  • Previous Stops: New Orleans Saints (2018), Oakland Raiders (2018-19), Dallas Cowboys (2019)

Accomplishments: Named team’s offensive captain in 2017 and finished the season as a member of First team All-Conference USA as a tight end. Yurachek ranks No. 3 on Marshall’s all-time list for receptions by a tight end and second in touchdowns by a tight end. He finished his career with a reception in 42 consecutive games, tying the school record.

Wide Receiver

Terrence Alls

  • College: James Madison (2016-2017), Duke (2014-2015)
  • Hometown: Miami Gardens, Fla.
  • Height/Weight: 6-1/193

Accomplishments: Two-time member of Third-Team All-CAA. Finished his career ranked eighth all-time in JMU history for receptions in a single season. Was teammates in 2016 with fellow Defenders WR Rashard Davis.

Jamal Custis

  • College: Syracuse (2015-2018)
  • Hometown: Philadelphia, Penn.
  • Height/Weight: 6-5/213
  • Previous Stops: Kansas City Chiefs (2018)

Accomplishments: Named to the All-ACC Second Team his senior year. Was named special teams captain and named most improved player on offensive as a senior.

Rashard Davis

  • College: James Madison (2013-2016)
  • Hometown: Charlottesville, Va.
  • Height/Weight: 5-9/176
  • Previous Stops: Philadelphia Eagles (2017-2018), Oakland Raiders (2018), Kansas City Chiefs (2019)

Accomplishments: Davis has the distinction of being the No. 1 overall pick in 2020 XFL Draft. He was a member of the Eagles team that defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII and James Madison’s FCS National Championship team in 2016. Named FCS First Team All-American and CAA Special Teams Player of the Year. In 2016, Davis set JMU and CAA single-season record with four punt returns for a touchdown.

Deion Holliman

  • College: Missouri State (2014-2017)
  • Hometown: Camden, Ark.
  • Height/Weight: 5-9/192
  • Previous Stops: Arizona Hotshots (2019)

Accomplishments: Two-time member of the All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team. In 2015, he led all FCS in combined kick-return yardage and set team and league single-season record for kick returns and kick-return yardage.

Levern Jacobs

  • College: Maryland (2012-2016)
  • Hometown: Temple Hills, Md.
  • Height/Weight: 5-11/1285
  • Previous Stops: Washington Redskins (2017), BC Lions (2019)

Accomplishments: FInished Maryland career ranked No. 7 in school history for receptions and No. 13 in receiving yards. His brother, Taivon Jacobs, also played WR at Maryland.

Tre McBride

  • College: William & Mary (2011-2014)
  • Hometown: McDonough, Ga.
  • Height/Weight: 6-0/210
  • Previous Stops: No. 245 overall (7th Round) pick in 2015 NFL Draft. Tennessee Titans (2015-2016), Chicago Bears (2017), New York Jets (2017-2018), Washington Redskins (2019), Jacksonville Jaguars (2019)

Accomplishments: Three-time All-CAA selection at WR. Finished his career ranked No. 2 all-time in career receptions. Set a school record for multi-purpose yards in a single game with 359 against Villanova. 

Max McCaffrey

  • College: Duke (2012-2015)
  • Hometown: Castle Rock, Colo.
  • Height/Weight: 6-2/200
  • Previous Stops: Oakland Raiders (2016), Green Bay Packers (2016), New Orleans Saints (2017), Jacksonville Jaguars (2017), San Francisco 49ers (2017-2018)

Accomplishments: 18th player in school history to reach 100-catch plateau. Two-time Academic All-ACC honoree. The son of three-time Super Bowl Champion WR Ed McCaffrey and the older brother of Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey.

Richard Mullaney

  • College: Alabama (2015), Oregon State (2012-2014)
  • Hometown: Valencia, Calif.
  • Height/Weight: 6-3/208
  • Previous Stops: Houston Texans (2016), Dallas Cowboys (2016), Cleveland Browns (2017), Arizona Hotshots (2019)

Accomplishments: Named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list as a junior. Recorded 38 catches for 390 yards and five TDs in his lone season as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Jaylen Smith

  • College: Louisville (2015-2018)
  • Hometown: Pascagoula, Miss.
  • Height/Weight: 6-4/219
  • Previous Stops: Baltimore Ravens (2019)

Accomplishments: Was the primary target for Heisman Trophy-winning QB Lamar Jackson as the two connected for 134 of Smith’s 14 career TDs. Finished third in the ACC in receiving yards his senior year and earned First Team All-ACC accolades.

Justin Thomas

  • College: Georgia Tech (2013-2016)
  • Hometown: Prattville, Ala.
  • Height/Weight: 5-11/186
  • Previous Stops: New Orleans Saints (2017), Los Angeles Rams (2017), Pittsburgh Steelers (2017-2018), Atlanta Legends (2019), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2019)

Accomplishments: Was a standout QB in college and is widely regarded as one of the best QBs in school history. In 2014, he led the Yellow Jackets to the Orange Bowl, where he was named the MVP of the game in a win over Dak Prescott and Mississippi State.

De’Andre Thompkins

  • College: Penn State (2015-2018)
  • Hometown: Hubert, N.C.
  • Height/Weight: 5-11/190
  • Previous Stops: Philadelphia Eagles (2019)

Accomplishments: Set a school record for punt-return average in a game with 31.8 YPR against Akron. Ranked No. 21 all-time in school history for receiving yards with 1,245.

Tight End

Orson Charles

  • College: Georgia (2009-2011)
  • Hometown: Tampa, Fla.
  • Height/Weight: 6-3/257
  • Previous Stops: No. 116 overall pick (4th Round) in 2012 NFL Draft. Cincinnati Bengals (2012-2014), New Orleans Saints (2014), Detroit Lions (2016), Kansas City Chiefs (2017), Cleveland Browns (2018), Denver Broncos (2019)

Accomplishments: Named to First Team All-SEC in 2012. Named to First Team Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman Team in 2009. Was high school and college teammates with Tampa Bay Vipers QB Aaron Murray.

Khari Lee

  • College: Bowie State (2011-2014)
  • Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
  • Height/Weight: 6-4/235
  • Previous Stops: Houston Texans (2015), Chicago Bears (2015), Detroit Lions (2016), Buffalo Bills (2017-2018)

Accomplishments: One of five Maryland natives on the Defenders roster. Was a three-time member of the All-CIAA First Team. Participated in the 2014 East-West Shrine Game.

Adrien Robinson

  • College: Cincinnati (2008-2011)
  • Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Height/Weight: 6-4/255
  • Previous Stops: No. 127 overall (4th Round) pick in 2012 NFL Draft. New York Giants (2012-2015), New York Jets (2016), Memphis Express (2019)

Accomplishments: Born Sept. 23, 1988, Robinson is the oldest player on the Defenders roster. During the draft process, Giants general Manager Jerry Reese referred to Robinson as “the Jason Pierre-Paul of tight ends.”

Dimitrios Tsesmetzis

  • College: Western Connecticut State (2014-2018)
  • Hometown: Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
  • Height/Weight: 6-4/240

Accomplishments: Played both basketball and football at Western Connecticut State. Also played pro basketball in Greece.

Defenders Roster: Offensive Skill Positions

QB: Tyree Jackson. Buffalo (2016-18). 6-7, 249 lbs.
QB: Cardale Jones. Ohio State (2013-15). 6-5, 250 lbs.

RB: Khalid Abdullah. James Madison (2013-16). 5-10, 211 lbs.
RB: Jhurell Pressley. New Mexico (2012-15). 5-10, 206 lbs.
RB: Donnel Pumphrey. San Diego State (2013-2016). 5-8, 176 lbs.
RB: John Thomas. Penn State (2015-18). 5-11, 218 lbs.
RB: Ryan Yurachek. Marshall (2014-17). 6-3, 240 lbs.

WR: Terrence Alls. James Madison (2016-17) Duke (2014-15). 6-1, 193 lbs.
WR: Jamal Custis. Syracuse (2015-18). 6-5, 213 lbs.
WR: Rashard Davis. James Madison (2013-16). 5-9, 176 lbs.
WR: Deion Holliman. Missouri State (2014-17). 5-9, 192 lbs.
WR: Levern Jacobs. Maryland (2012-16). 5-11, 185 lbs.
WR: Tre McBride. William & Mary (2011-14). 6-0, 210 lbs.
WR: Max McCaffrey. Duke (2012-15). 6-2, 200 lbs.
WR: Richard Mullaney. Alabama (2015), Oregon State (2012-14). 6-3, 208 lbs.
WR: Jaylen Smith. Louisville (2015-18). 6-4, 219 lbs.
WR: Justin Thomas. Georgia Tech (2013-16). 5-11, 186 lbs.
WR: De’Andre Hopkins. Penn State (2015-18). 5-11, 188 lbs.

TE: Orson Charles. Georgia (2009-11). 6-3, 257 lbs.
TE: Khari Lee. Bowie State (2011-14). 6-4, 235 lbs.
TE: Adrien Robinson. Cincinnati (2008-11). 6-4, 255 lbs.
TE: Dimitrios Tsesmetzis. Western Connecticut State. (2014-18). 6-6, 240 lbs. 

Defenders Roster: Offensive Live

OC: James O’Hagan. Buffalo (2015-18). 6-3, 305 lbs.
OC: Ronald Patrick. South Carolina (2010-13). 6-2, 315 lbs.
OC: Jon Toth. Kentucky (2013-16). 6-5, 310 lbs.
OG: Chris Brown. Southern California (2015-18). 6-5, 310 lbs.
OG: Rishard Cook. UAB (2017-18), Mississippi Gulf Coast CC (2015). 6-3, 320 lbs.
OG: Chase Farris. Ohio State (2012-15). 6-5, 310 lbs.
OG: Terronne Prescod. North Carolina State (2015-18). 6-5, 334 lbs.
OT: Cole Boozer. Temple (2014-17). 6-4, 295 lbs.
OT: Randall Harris. Towson (2010-13). 6-4, 285 lbs.
OT: Trae Moxley. Colorado State (2014-17). 6-6, 330 lbs.
OT: Kyle Murphy. Stanford (2012-15). 6-7, 301 lbs.
OT: Casey Tucker. Arizona State (2017), Stanford (2014-16). 6-6, 300 lbs.
OT: Logan Tulley-Tillman. UTEP (2017), Akron (2016), Michigan (2014-15). 6-7, 320 lbs.
OT: Toby Weathersby. LSU (2015-18). 6-6, 308 lbs.
OT: De’Ondre Wesley. BYU (2013-14), Diablo Valley CC (2011-12). 6-7, 330 lbs.