The NFL is in the middle of its offseason. Training camp doesn’t even start for another month. College Football, also, in the middle of its offseason.
It’s been a long four months since we’ve seen either of those sports play.
But, football hasn’t quite left us yet.
With the USFL Semifinals being played this past Saturday, and the “inaugural” USFL Championship being played next weekend, football fiends still have a week to get their kick in.
As Ryan Bunnell wrote on this site, we know former TCU WR KaVontae Turpin has already taken home the league’s MVP award, joining Hall of Famers such as Jim Kelly and Herschel Walker, but how have other, former TCU standouts fared in their first USFL season?
Well, if you’re tuned into Sunday’s USFL Championship between the Philadelphia Stars and Birmingham Stallions, you might just be able to catch one.
A Frog in many fan’s recent memories, former favorite TE of Max Duggan, Pro Wells is back in professional football after a short stint with the Cincinnati Bengals. Going undrafted in the inaugural USFL Draft, Wells signed with the Philadelphia Stars hours after.
Appearing in all 11 games so far this season for the Stars, Wells has primarily been used as a blocker on QBs Case Cookus and Bryan Scott’s blindside. Due to dutifully fulfilling this role, he’s only caught 3 passes this year, but one of them did go all the way.
In Week 8, playing against the Michigan Panthers, Wells ran downfield on a Go-Route and torched the Panthers secondary, with a cornerback and a safety trailing behind Wells as he caught a perfectly thrown ball from QB Case Cookus.
Tallying 3 receptions, for 55 yards, and that TD, being his only highlight so far in the USFL, Wells has been getting snaps as a blocker, and will look to continue protecting Cookus’ blindside in the USFL Championship game.
Transitioning to another former Frog who may know a bit about protecting a QBs blindside, former TCU Left Guard Cordel Iwuagwu impressed in his first season with the Michigan Panthers. Standing on the sidelines to begin the season, Iwaugwu didn’t see his first action until Week 2, and didn’t start his first game until Week 6.
Protecting three different QBs at TCU (Kenny Hill, Shawn Robinson, Max Duggan), Iwuagwu is used to being forced to adapt, and in being thrown in as a starting lineman in Week 6, Cordel had to do just that.
Yet, his impact was obvious, and just looking at stats alone one can see the impact Iwaugwu had on the Panthers offense.
Throughouts Week 1-5, the Panthers were the most sacked offense in the USFL, but the second Iwaugwu was assigned to the starting lineup (Week 6), the Panthers became the 2nd-least sacked team in the league, only behind the 9-1 New Jersey Generals.
We’re hopeful this play, and how he stepped into start for the Panthers in the middle of the season, will be noticed by NFL scouts, and that he’ll once again get the chance to workout for a spot on an NFL roster.
Pivoting to the Tight End position once again, another former target of Shawn Robinson and Max Duggan, Artayvious Lynn, has found a new home in the USFL. Lynn, who also began his play in the USFL with the Philadelphia Stars, was actually drafted to the team in the 5th round of the USFL Draft. (Unlike Wells, who was signed to the Stars).
But, due to early, lackluster play, and being a poor fit for the Stars due to his lack of pass-blocking expertise, Lynn was released by the Stars on April 30. But, it wouldn’t take too long for Lynn to find a new team, as the Pittsburgh Maulers signed Artayvious just a week after his release, on May 6.
And, Lynn’s play improved because of the move. As a member of the Stars, Lynn wasn’t getting much playing time and only had one reception, going for nine yards. But, as a Pittsburgh Mauler, Lynn saw a lot more time on the field, and added 8 receptions the rest of his season, finishing with 68 total yards.
While it wasn’t too notable of a season for Artayvious, it’s good to know he’s found a fit with the Pittsburgh Maulers, and we’re hopeful next season provides Lynn more opportunities.
Holding off the ‘best’ for last, the season former TCU star Wide Receiver KaVontae Turpin had was simply ridiculous. As we reported on our site a week ago, leading the league in receiving yards at 540, on top of 129 rushing yards and 6 TDs all while returning punts and kicks, Turpin won the 2022 USFL MVP award, doing it ALL in his first, and potentially last, season with the New Jersey Generals.
Drafted by the Generals in the 13th round of the USFL Draft, Turpin was an absolute steal, as it’s insane to think 7 other teams passed on him 12 different times. While he and his team weren’t able to advance past the USFL Semi-Finals, losing to the Philadelphia Stars 19-14, there wasn’t much of a blemish on “Turpin’s time” at New Jersey, losing only twice all season and, of course, taking home the MVP award.
Not only has Turpin maintained his blazing speed, but his ability to read defenses, lure safeties, and “trap” defenders against the sideline has improved dramatically, and it truly shows in many of the spectacular plays he made this year.
As his simple ability to make defenders miss will be valued in the NFL, this part of his game where he reads defenses and lures safeties will make him even more valuable in the league, and we’d be very surprised if KaVontae’s next snap in an organized football game isn’t in the NFL.
Four former Frogs showed the USFL, and NFL scouts, that they can still play professional football at the highest level, and, hopefully, their showcase was enough. We’ll make sure to keep you updated on these four players and their futures on frogsowar.com.