Running Backs and Linebackers You May See in the USFL

A brand-new football experiment takes another massive step soon, as the United States Football League (USFL) draft will be held on February 22, 2022. The USFL is a professional league owned by Fox Sports featuring eight teams throughout the country. On the 22nd, all eight teams will participate in a snake draft structured by position and featuring over 3,000 players.

Even though the league is yet to have its first snap, there are a number of high-profile running backs and linebackers speculated to take part in this new venture. They include former NFL players, XFL players, and a few international guys as well.

Running Backs

Trent Richardson is perhaps the biggest running back connected to the USFL thus far, which is impressive, given that he used to be a starter in the NFL. Though he now plays in the Mexican LFA, he was an All-American at Alabama and nearly ran for 1,000 yards in a single NFL season. Richardson could be enticed to come to the USFL by the big names (like Herschel Walker) and hype around it.

Trent Richardson powers his way past a Baltimore Ravens defender

Jhurell Pressley is another intriguing prospect for USFL play. Pressley was seen in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) before it stopped play, and he was a top running back in the league for the Arizona Hotshots. Having played for five NFL teams, Pressley is experienced and consistent. He averaged over 4 yards per carry in the AAF and was most recently drafted for the XFL before it stopped play.

Jhurell Pressley catches a pass against the Los Angeles Rams. Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

De’Veon Smith rounds out the list of former AAF backs who have a great shot at being legitimate contributors in the USFL. After a solid college career for the University of Michigan, Smith was signed by the Miami Dolphins and later joined the AAF. There, he was a starting running back. He then played in the Canadian Football League, and he could come back to the United States for this league.

University of Michigan RB De’Veon Smith Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


Given its influence on the inception of the USFL, it makes sense to look at the XFL to determine which linebackers may stand out in this league. The XFL was rebooted in 2019, but filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of the pandemic, and is now slated to return in early 2023.

In the third phase of the XFL draft, however, which featured the defensive front seven, Eric Pinkins was one of the first linebackers off the board. Pinkins was a sixth-round pick for the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 after being a 3-star recruit and playing college football at San Diego State University. Pinkins can do a little bit of everything, from recording pass deflections to getting to the backfield and sacking the quarterback.

Eric Pinkins was a sixth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2014

Taken just a couple picks after Pinkins, Terence Garvin logged 36 tackles and one sack in five games in the XFL. Previously, in the AAF, Garvin had a monster game, recording two interceptions, one of which he took the house, and earning the Defensive Player of the Week nod. He was a dominant AAF player for the Orlando Apollos, and he should figure to have the same role in the USFL.

Terence Garvin logged minutes with the Pittsburgh Steelers

A third linebacker with enormous USFL potential is Edmond Robinson. Robinson is another late-round NFL draft pick with experience at the highest level of football, as well as subsequent tenures in other leagues. At the NFL combine, when he was starting his career, he posted some of the most impressive numbers of all the linebackers in the 2015 class. He was most recently signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad, and though he wasn’t able to crack the active roster, he would be a name to watch for USFL play.

Edmond Robinson playing for the Atlanta Falcons