Tryout Players Earn Their Shot

The five teams in the UFL have held fourteen open tryouts among them, with one more to go. More than 2,000 prospective athletes have showed off their talent during these tryouts. Some were former NFL vets, others had spent time in NFL camps. Some were All Americans or All Conference, others had not cracked the starting lineup for their collegiate team. Their love for the game of football and desire to play the game professionally was the one common theme that united all of the players.

Throughout all fourteen tryouts the coaches found dozens of talented players, many of whom earned either contracts or a chance at further evaluation.

The Coaches were all pleasantly surprised by the talent level which seemed to grow with each additional tryout. Las Vegas Locos coach Jim Fassel mentioned at the UFL Annual Meeting in April that he had far more talent at his initial tryout in Arizona than he could have ever expected. By the time that Colonials Coach Chris Palmer held his final tryout in Danbury he said that it was the most talent that he had seen at any tryout during the spring.

Many players tried out for multiple teams to maximize their opportunity to be evaluated. Andre Barbour, Ryan Considine, Donald Hord and Taylor Melhaff tried out for the Omaha Nighthawks. Barbour, Hord and Melhaff would end up on the roster of the Hartford Colonials later on after trying out for Coach Palmer and his team. Ryan Considine would end up becoming a Las Vegas Loco offensive lineman.

The Nighthawks ended up signing several players who tried out including Tony Dorsett Jr., who played in two Super Bowls during his eight seasons in the NFL, would end up signing with the Nighthawks. Following a Nighthawks tryout in Houston Nighthawks head coach Jeff Jagodzinski said that, “The tryouts went really well. There was a lot more speed than we have seen elsewhere and we expected that. I thought it was a very worthwhile tryout.”

Coach Jagodzinski, and others, might well have been surprised at who was willing to tryout. For example, Green Bay Packer legend Ahman Green said during a radio interview that he would be willing to attend an open tryout for the Omaha Nighthawks before he ended up as the first player to sign a contract for Omaha. It was amazing to see how many players were humble enough to tryout for a spot despite impressive football pedigrees.

Many of the players who tried out made up the UFL Draft pool on June 2. The Mountain Lions, in particular, made use of tryout talent as nine of their twelve draft picks from players who had tried out for the team previously. Some of the players who tried out and were drafted were prominent during their collegiate career, others were lesser known. QB Justin Goltz had performed really strongly in mini camp with the Detroit Lions. Both Willie Glasper and Tim Clark had been standout defensive backs in the PAC 10. TE Darrell Strong, who spent time on the roster of the Oakland Raiders, was another player who tried out before being offered a contract.

When all was said and done twenty seven of the almost seventy players on the Mountain Lions mini camp roster came from tryouts.

The Hartford Colonials reviewed UConn RB Andre Dixon at their tryout in Danbury, Connecticut. Dixon is a fan favorite in Connecticut after rushing for 1,093 yards during his senior year, capping his collegiate career by winning the MVP award in the final bowl game of his UConn career. Dixon would end up going 2nd overall in the 2010 UFL Draft. The Hartford Colonials evaluated former Pitt QB Bill Stull, who became the first Pitt Panther since Dan Marino to win ten games, in a tryout and brought him into mini camp where he competed with Ryan Perrilloux and Andre Woodson.

The Florida Tuskers held tryouts in Orlando, Florida and Miami, Florida with one remaining tryout on June 26 in Atlanta, Georgia. Following the tryout in Orlando Tuskers head coach Jay Gruden said, “Without question we saw some guys that we are going to bring back for further evaluation. A razor thin margin separates many of these athletes and that makes the evaluation process difficult. But that certainly is a good problem to have.”

The Tuskers have signed a half dozen athletes to date, including former Olympian speedster and LSU WR Bennie Brazell and local standout WR Rocky Ross.

All told more than sixty players currently on UFL rosters came from the open tryouts. The coaches believe firmly that many of the more than five dozen athletes signed thus far will contribute to the team. Many of those have not made rosters yet are still being evaluated for further openings.

Brendan Rowe, Vice President of Football Administration for the league, said that, “We felt really good with the quality of players that showed up at our Open Team Tryouts and we couldn’t thank the Players enough for their enthusiasm and participation. Similar to last year, the level of play these guys had competed at in the past, including the NFL, was top notch and we thought the Coaches did a tremendous job of getting the most out of these players. They showed compassion and interest during the evaluation process, which is even more apparent now with the significant number of Player Signings that have taken place. We look forward to future tryouts as the Teams continue to modify their 70 Man Rosters before Training Camp.”

Full list of athletes signed/protected who attended tryouts:

Omaha Nighthawks
S Tony Dorsett, JR
RB D.D. Terry
LB Jeff Souder
K Obi Egekeze

Hartford Colonials
OL Ben Benshoof
DL Brandon Drumgoole
LS Tim Lindsey
WR Shaheer McBride
K Taylor Melhaff
OL William Bustle
DT Kyle Harrington
OL Tim Mattran
RB Asaph Schwapp
DB Sean Smalls
LB Jordan Stevens
QB Bill Stull
OL Zach Anderson
OL Andre Barbour
WR Shawn Bayes
RB Andre Dixon
WR Donald Hord
LB Damaso Munoz
OL Charles Young

Las Vegas Locos
P Phillip Zavala
LB Chase Vaughn
WR Aaron Woods
CB Dewayne Lewis
LB Dominic Payne
OL Ryan Considine
WR Jovonte Taylor
WR Ed Newton
TE George Wrighster

Florida Tuskers
WR Bennie Brazell
FB Kevin Harris
OL Adrien Clarke
WR Rocky Ross
CB Corey Small
DE Chris Perri

Sacramento Mountain Lions
LB Zeke Moreno
DL Tyler Clutts
LB Richard Kiesel- Kauhane
DL Josh Leonard
OL Sam Lightbody
DE Jermaine McGhee
DE Ekom Udofia
LB Clinton Snyder
DT Udeme Udofia
DE Curtis Young
WR Antonio Chatman
QB Justin Goltz
OL Tavita Thompson
CB Tim Clark
S Dennis Keyes
S Ryan McFoy
CB Willie Glasper
LB Dwayne Lefall
WR Tre’dale Tolver
DL John Faletoese
TE Darrell Strong
WR Otis Amey
WR Chido Nowkocha
DL Bobby Payne
DB Ray Bass

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colonials mini camp report

Brandon Drumgoole