Former Nittany Lions We Want To See In The XFL
The XFL is back and better than ever, baby. Vince McMahon, founder and chairman of the WWE, made it official last Thursday when he announced the new and improved league will return in January 2020. This go-around, McMahon plans to drop the gimmicks and focus instead on fan-centric football action…whatever that means.
If fan input is what McMahon wants, then fan input he shall get. There’s one thing the XFL needs if it’s going to succeed this time around: some former Nittany Lions. Penn State football players are to professional football what cowbell is to Christopher Walken’s Bruce Dickinson — the more, the better.
Thus, here are some former, and soon-to-be former, Penn Staters we’d like to see in the XFL.
Let’s face it. Hack hasn’t been able to cut it in the NFL. In his two seasons with the Jets, he’s been at the bottom of a pretty horrendous quarterback depth chart. Enter his saving grace: the XFL. Decrease the talent of the competition, give him a relatively solid offensive line for once, and boom, Hackenberg is the XFL’s next big thing. He may not put up the same numbers he used to in his three years in Happy Valley, but he should be a serviceable franchise quarterback in McMahon’s league. At the very least, he’ll be able to outperform his NFL regular season totals (all of which are zeros because he has yet to take a snap).
Devon Still is a perfect fit for the XFL. The league will, almost without a doubt, be driven by storylines and marketable players. In 2014, Still’s heartfelt story of his daughter’s fight with pediatric cancer made national news. Since then, Lia has won her battle with cancer, but the 28-year old defensive end retired this season when he couldn’t secure a roster spot. Nonetheless, the former Nittany Lion lineman is a personable character with nearly four seasons of NFL experience, which will make him a great roster option for any XFL team.
People forget Oakman was originally a Nittany Lion long before he was immortalized as a meme during his time at Baylor. He may have been dismissed from Penn State for shoplifting and a violation of team rules, but as a former Nittany Lion, he still fits this list. He would be a perfect fit for the XFL, even if solely because of that meme. One major problem for Oakman is a pending sexual assault trial in Waco, TX. Even if he is found not guilty, Vince McMahon said he doesn’t want players with a criminal record. Therefore, that shoplifting conviction will come back to hurt him again. That is, unless Oakman has anything to say about it…
Vince McMahon: No players with a criminal record.
Shawn Oakman: *clears throat*
Vince McMahon: I’ll make an exception.
If McMahon can’t make Oakman happen, the Fiesta Bowl ref is nearly as intimidating and should do.
Largely considered one of the biggest NFL draft busts of all time, Ki-Jana Carter will have something to prove in the new XFL. Sure, he may be 20 years removed from his prime, but that’s the beauty of the XFL. At the end of the day, it’s all about entertainment. Watching a 46-year-old, former first overall NFL draft pick make some attempt at a pro football comeback? Now that’s entertainment.
We haven’t really worked out the logistics of this one, but we pretty much want to see Saquon become the XFL’s version of the USFL’s Herschel Walker. Walker left college early to sign pro football’s largest contract ever with the USFL in 1983. In his three seasons in the league before going to the NFL, he posted an astonishing 7,046 total yards. Barkley’s case is a little different, as he will more than likely be under contract for the league’s premiere season. Therefore, Vince McMahon would have to dig deep into his pockets if he ever wants to sway Barkley to be the face of his league. Besides, that’s even if the league survives past its inaugural year this time. As far-fetched as it might be, it would be fun to see what Saquon could do in a few years competing against the pro football league equivalent of Rutgers. Did someone say 2,500-yard season?
The case for McSorley in the XFL is actually somewhat compelling. If he doesn’t improve his NFL draft stock by the end of next season, he might legitimately consider McMahon’s league instead. It seems as though the XFL would provide a safe haven for good college quarterbacks who don’t pan out in the NFL. Tim Tebow XFL rumors are already floating around, Johnny Manziel wants in, and McSorley would fit in with the likes of these standout college quarterbacks. Depending on his draft stock and his available offers from both leagues, it wouldn’t surprise me to see McSorley turn down a late-round contract and opt for the XFL instead. If not, he may stick around in the NFL for a few years before ultimately landing in the XFL anyway (again, if it’s still around by then).