Six former Terps selected in inaugural XFL Draft

Linebacker Tre Watson celebrates after making a play on defense during Maryland’s 52-51 loss to No. 9 Ohio State at Maryland Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

The NFL is well into the 2019 season, with Week 7 of games coming up. However, the league wasn’t the only football entity that was making noise this week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 2020 XFL Draft took place, and Maryland was well-represented among selections made by the league’s inaugural eight teams.

For those who don’t know, this is the re-launched XFL, first created by WWE owner Vince McMahon in 2001. The league flopped after one season due to a plethora of problems, the biggest being the quality — or lack thereof — of football.

This new XFL, first announced in 2018, promises a better brand of football with the hope of staying around for more than a year.

As for Maryland, six different Terps were chosen among five different teams in the league, including the local DC Defenders, who took wide receiver Levern Jacobs in the Open Draft: Phase 2 on Wednesday.

Jacobs played at Maryland from 2012-16, finishing his college career with 130 receptions for 1,544 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns.

Traveling up north, the New York Guardians selected defensive tackle Cavon Walker as one of the defensive front seven.

Walker was signed to the practice squads of the Chicago Bears in 2018 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 before getting released.

Arguably the biggest name drafted from Maryland was linebacker Tre Watson, selected in Phase 1 of the Open Draft by the Dallas Renegades.

Watson went undrafted in 2019 before getting signed by the Miami Dolphins. He was cut from the roster before the season, surprising considering his strong 2018 season.

He was Second Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten, leading the conference with 9.6 tackles per game, 5.9 solo tackles per game and five interceptions, the joint-most by a Maryland linebacker in program history.

Maryland’s first draft pick of the night was offensive tackle Michael Dunn, selected 47th overall by the Seattle Dragons. 

Dunn was a Terp from 2013-16, receiving Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors in 2015 and 2016. 

Rounding out the picks, two Terps landed on the LA Wildcats: offensive tackle Damian Prince and kicker Nick Novak.

Novak went undrafted in 2005, but ended up playing for parts of nine NFL seasons from 2005-2017, his longest stint coming with the San Diego Chargers from 2011-2014. Novak converted 82 percent of his field goals in the NFL, but his most recent kicking stint came with the Birmingham Iron of the short-lived Alliance of American Football.

Prince was previously signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers last offseason after playing at Maryland from 2014-18, receiving Third Team All-Big Ten honors in 2017. 

The rebooted XFL will begin its inaugural season on February 8, 2020, the week after Super Bowl LIV. Expect a lot of Maryland flavor to grace your TV screens this spring.

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