7 Former College Football Stars that Could Take the XFL by Storm

Aaron Murray
Former Georgia Bulldogs and AAF Atlanta Legends QB Aaron Murray smiles during a press conference. | Todd Kirkland/AAF/Getty Images

Super Bowl LIV marked the end of the NFL season, but the football season is far from over. Beginning the weekend of Feb. 8, the XFL season will kick off, marking the league's return from nearly a 20-year hiatus.

With a completely new league that brings eight full rosters with it, here's a look at some former standout college football stars that could take the XFL by storm in its inaugural season.

7. Keenan Reynolds, WR, Seattle Dragons

Keenan Reynolds
Keenan Reynolds celebrates a score in a game against the ECU Pirates. | Rob Carr/Getty Images

College: Navy Midshipmen (2012-15)
While Keenan Reynolds may be listed as a WR for the Seattle Dragons, most college football fans likely remember him as something very different. Reynolds started 49 of his 50 career games with Navy as a dual-threat QB, and he remains the FBS' all-time leader in career touchdowns with 88 – 11 more than Montee Ball's second-place mark. Reynolds bounced around practice squads with a few teams before he was waived by the Seattle Seahawks in August 2019, but he could be a dangerous weapon at the WR spot with his versatility from college.

6. Scooby Wright III, LB, DC Defenders

Scooby Wright III
Arizona Wildcats LB Scooby Wright prepares for another play. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

College: Arizona Wildcats (2013-15)
Once upon a time, Arizona's Scooby Wright was being heralded as one of the rare defensive talents with a real shot to take home the 2015 Heisman Trophy after a historic 2014 campaign for the Wildcats. Wright booked 164 total tackles, 31.0 tackles for a loss, 15.0 sacks and 5 forced fumbles in 14 games, earning him an incredible trio of the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award. For some added perspective, that recognition places in the middle of names like Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald, Bradley Chubb, Josh Allen, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Chase Young as a handful of the most recent recipients of those awards. Wright missed all but three games due to a foot injury in the following 2015 season prior to a brief NFL career that ended in 2019 on the New England Patriots' practice squad.

5. Connor Cook, QB, Houston Roughnecks

Connor Cook
Connor Cook attempts a pass in the Big Ten Championship Game. | Andy Lyons/Getty Images

College: Michigan State Spartans (2012-15)
Even though Connor Cook will back up P.J. Walker on the Houston Roughnecks' QB depth chart to start the season, don't be surprised if we see Cook take the field as the starter before season's end. Cook had an incredibly decorated career at Michigan State, leading the Spartans to their lone College Football Playoff appearance in 2015-16, as well as two Big Ten Championships with 9,194 passing yards and 71 touchdowns compared to 22 interceptions to show for it. Cook may have lost the early QB battle, but his big-game experience could be a difference maker over Walker (Temple Owls QB from 2013-16) down the stretch.

4. Shawn Oakman, DE, Los Angeles Wildcats

Shawn Oakman
Shawn Oakman walks off the field during a game against the TCU Horned Frogs. | Cooper Neill/Getty Images

College: Baylor Bears (2012-15) | Penn State Nittany Lions (2011-12)
Shawn Oakman has fallen a long way since crashing the national spotlight as a two-time projected first-round NFL Draft Pick, largely over-hyped by a photo that made him look like one of the biggest college football players in the history of the game. After analysts such as Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke projected him to go as high as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Oakman chose to return for his senior season at Baylor, which would be marred by legal issues off the field before going undrafted in 2017. However, the 6-foot-8-inch, 287-pound frame and DE talent that once earned him that recognition and respect hasn't gone anywhere.

3. Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Dallas Renegades

Cameron Artis-Payne, Rashaan Evans
Cameron Artis-Payne hurtles a defender in the Iron Bowl Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

College: Auburn Tigers (2015-18)
Cameron Artis-Payne helped lead the Auburn to the 2014 BCS National Championship Game in his first season with the Tigers, before nearly tripling his 2013-14 season rushing yardage (1,608) as the workhorse back in 2014-15. Artis-Payne saw some early success with the Panthers in 2016, logging 144 rushing yards and two TDs in just three games. He and the Dallas Renegades are also early favorites to win the XFL Championship.

2. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, DC Defenders

Donnel Pumphrey, Jermaine Kelly
Donnel Pumphrey rushes the ball in a game against San Jose State. | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

College: San Diego State Aztecs (2013-16)
Despite finishing his collegiate career as the FBS' all-time leader in career rushing yards (6,405) powered by three 1,600-plus-yard seasons at SDSU, Donnel Pumphrey continued to fly under the radar through both a limited and short career in the NFL. Pumphrey was drafted into a tough backfield situation on an eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles team in 2017, having to battle for rushing attempts against veterans like Darren Sproles and LeGarrette Blount. However, this could be Pumphrey's first opportunity to run the show atop the backfield depth chart, the same way he did in his decorated career with the Aztecs.

1. Aaron Murray, QB, Tampa Bay Vipers

Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray attempts a pass in an AAF game against the Birmingham Iron. | Logan Riely/Getty Images

College: Georgia Bulldogs (2009-13)
Aaron Murray's name is still plastered across the Georgia football record books as the program's all-time leader in career passing yards (13,166), single-season passing yards (3,893), career completion percentage (62.3 percent), career passing touchdowns (121), single-season passing touchdowns (36) and single-season passing efficiency rating (174.82) – just to name a few. Murray's success at the collegiate level is unquestionable, and he also proved he still has something left in the tank in the AAF, leading the league in completion percentage (64.8) after earning the starting role over Matt Simms to finish the season for the Atlanta Legends.

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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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