By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The USFL concluded the draft for it’s 2022 reboot this week and fans have plenty of players to root for.
Not only is there a team representing Philadelphia, but there are quite a few names that people should recognize, including former Philadelphia Eagles, Temple Owls, Penn State Nittany Lions and some other names that will be of interest to those in the area.
By far the longest list of those in this article, the Eagles have crossed paths with quite a few of these players at one time or another.
Due to the USFL’s draft limiting teams to pick positions by round, the first two Eagles Alummi off the board were quarterbacks.
QB Clayton Thorson
Fans may remember 2019 fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson, who was a polarizing selection at the time and wound up being one of the final cuts in training camp that season before latching on with the Cowboys practice squad.
Thorson figures to be the starter for the Houston Gamblers.
QB Kyle Lauletta
With Thorson having signed with the Dallas practice squad, the Eagles signed Lauletta to their own and he served in that capacity for the entire 2019 season. He was re-signed to a futures deal following the season, but was cut in camp before the 2020 campaign.
He figures to be QB1 for the Pittsburgh Maulers.
S Obi Melifonwu
The London-born safety was with the Eagles for a little more than a week during the 2021 offseason before he wound up on injured reserve. He was released before he could return to the team. The Eagles were his last team prior to the Bandits selecting him.
CB Ajene Harris
Selected by the Maulers, Harris was with the Eagles in 2019, having been brought in during training camp in 2019. He was signed to their practice squad in September. From there he was released, re-signed and then eventually released for the final time at the end of October.
CB De’Vante Bausby
Bausby was on the Eagles practice squad for essentially the entire 2017 campaign, making him a member of the Super Bowl squad. He re-signed with the team in 2018 and spent time on the practice squad as well as being elevated to the 53-man roster where he appeared in six games before being released on Christmas Eve of that year. Now, he’ll line up for New Jersey.
DT Destiny Vaeao
The Generals also drafted the most experienced Eagle on this list, Destiny Vaeao. Although the Eagles didn’t draft him, Vaeao was an undrafted free agent signing that certainly worked out. He joined the team in the 2016 offseason and stuck with the team for two and a half seasons. He appeared in 34 games, including the playoffs, before his release in 2018. He was a part of that Super Bowl LII team, as well, bringing the Birds their first championship.
S Trae Elston
Elston will join Bausby in the secondary. He has had two short stints with the Birds, one lasting just 10 days in 2017 and another during training camp in 2019.
CB Jameson Houston
Houston joined the team in 2020 and was elevated and actually appeared in three games down the stretch for the Eagles that year. He received a futures deal from the team in January 2021, but wound up with the Jaguars this season after the Eagles traded him and a late-round pick for Josiah Scott.
DE JaQuan Bailey
Bailey went undrafted in 2021 but signed with the Eagles shortly after. He was cut at the end of training camp. He’ll suit up for Michigan in the USFL.
WR Manasseh Bailey
Manasseh Bailey was with the Eagles the offseason before JaQuan Baily, having signed as an UDFA in 2020. He was among the final cuts that offseason. He was selected by Birmingham.
TE Cary Angeline
The Downingtown East product only got to spend one week with the team late in training camp this past offseason. He’ll look to make his mark with the Birmingham Stallions. He was the only tight end the team selected.
Former Temple Owl
WR Branden Mack
Mack was a rookie in the NFL during the 2021 season but went undrafted. He did spend part of training camp with the Denver Broncos before he was released.
The Germantown native put up over 1,800 yards for the Owls during his career and will represent Pittsburgh in the USFL.
Former Penn State Nittany Lion
CB Christian Campbell
The shortest list on this article, Campbell was the lone Penn State product selected through the initial draft and will play with Tampa Bay.
Campbell played for Penn State from 2014 to 2017 and was a sixth-round pick in the NFL draft in 2018. He’s had stints with the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers. He was also signed to a CFL deal, but has not appeared in a game due to the pandemic.
In a bit of a shock, former Penn State OL Steven Gonzalez was not selected in the initial draft despite his being among the best lineman available.
Other Names of Interest
WR Vinny Papale
The Delaware product is, of course, the son of Eagles hero Vince Papale.
He did try out with the Eagles, but was not signed to a deal. He’s had stints in the CFL (though that season wound up being cancelled due to the pandemic) and the Spring League prior to his being drafted by the Tampa Bay Bandits.
OL Joshua Taylor
Michigan selected the offensive line product who went to West Catholic High School in Philadelphia and is just finishing up his time at Mississippi Valley State University. He’s a true rookie as he was in college in 2021 so the 2022 season would be his first professional ball of any kind. He’s looking to make a name for himself and likely looking for some opportunities to draw attention from the NFL being that he’s coming out of a smaller school.
TE Julian Allen
The Sewell, NJ native will suit up for the Gamblers. He spent a few years up at Lakawana College, a scholl Penn State fans should be familiar with, before heading to Southern Miss and spending some time with the Browns.
RB Mark Thompson
A La Mott, PA native, Thompson played college ball at Florida and will join the Gamblers. He’s signed breifly with three NFL teams, but also has two charges of violent conduct from his time at UF.
WR Brennan Eagles
There’s players from six of the eight teams on this list and one of the teams without anyone else previously listed is the Philadelphia Stars, which seems like a massive swing and a miss from a marketing perspective. Without anyone else, we’ve got to put someone from the home team in the article and that will have to go to Eagles – Brennan Eagles, that is.
Eagles went to Texas and only accumulated a few hundred yards receiving. He doesn’t have any connection to the area, but one has to image that a Stars jersey that says Eagles on the nameplate should sell fairly well in Philadelphia.