Mexico: Former University of South Alabama/Hamburg Sea Devil RB Xavier Johnson thriving with Mexico’s Fundidores de Monterrey

Running back Xavier Johnson is definitely enjoying life as a football-playing global hopper.

The Tampa, Florida native is in the midst of his first season with Mexico’s Liga de Futbol Americano with the Fundidores de Monterrey and has helped the team to second place in the standings with just one round left in the regular season.

However, he actually started his international career in Europe, spending the 2021 season in the European League of Football where, playing for the Hamburg Sea Devils, he rushed for 979 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 97.9 rushing yards a game ranking him third in the league.

He had intended to return to Europe and had agreed to terms with the Firenze Guelfi of the Italian Football League but decided at the last minute to join the Fundidores due to a pre-COVID commitment.

Before beginning his international career, the 5’11”, 190-pound Johnson enjoyed an outstanding four-year career at the University of South Alabama (NCAA Div. 1) who play in the Sun Belt Conference (2014-2017). He rushed for a total of 2,670 yards and 24 touchdowns while returning 51 kickoffs for 1,220 yards and two touchdowns, finishing as the school’s all-time leading rusher at the time.

In this exchange, Johnson discusses his time playing internationally and his team’s growth as a whole. 

AFI: What made you decide to play football internationally?

Johnson: I just wanted to inspire kids all over the world with my experience and what I’ve learned playing the game of football

AFI: What made you decide to come to Mexico and become a member of the Fundidores?

Johnson: I chose the Fundidores because they gave me an opportunity to come in and not only to play, but also to be a leader and inspire young kids and share my experiences. I wanted to play in Mexico because it’s always been a dream just to live or visit Mexico, so I had the opportunity, and I took it.

AFI: What happened with the contract with Guelfi?

Johnson: I had personal family problems that cropped up and decided to stay closer to where my family is, so they could come and see me play.

AFI: How has it been adjusting to the country?

Johnson: It’s been good. The people here are very friendly, so I’m liking it so far.

AFI: How has the Fundidores’ fanbase been?

Johnson: It’s actually good. I didn’t think people here support football like that, but they really support their team.

AFI: Your team clinched a playoff spot with three weeks left to go, earning a bye this week. How does that feel?

Johnson: I mean it feels good but we have not finished what we are trying to accomplish. We aren’t taking any team lightly or underestimating anyone. We just take it one game at a time.

AFI: Now that the Fundidores are a playoff team, what team would you want to face the most?

Johnson: Honestly, it doesn’t even matter who we play, but I would want to play the Dinos again. They beat us by a touchdown early in the season.

AFI: Do you think your QB, Shelton Eppler is the league MVP? If so, why?

Johnson: Yes I believe he is the league MVP. I mean he is a leader; he brings it day in day out. He makes everyone around him better and he has a winning mindset.

AFI: After playing in the European League of Football, how was the talent compared to the LFA?

Johnson: I would say ELF is stronger, but the LFA also has talent.

AFI: What do you want to do after you’re done playing?

Johnson: When I’m done playing in like four years, I want to continue to share my experience all over the world and continue to inspire other kids.


A recent graduate of Hofstra University in New York. He is currently a sports freelance journalist and podcaster