Scooby Wright, Stallions focus on what’s in front – not ahead


With two weeks left in the 2022 USFL regular season, linebacker Scooby Wright and the undefeated 8-0 Birmingham Stallions have already secured a USFL Playoff berth and the South Division regular season title.

They know they’ll be at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio on June 25, playing for an opportunity to reach the Championship game on July 3.

But with two regular season games remaining – Saturday night against the Houston Gamblers (6 p.m. ET on USA Network) and the June 18 regular season finale against the Tampa Bay Bandits – Wright and the Stallions aren’t looking ahead.

“I think the biggest thing that we’ve done is just attack the week as 1-0 and that’s kind of helped us just to create momentum – having us not get too far [ahead] and just staying focused on each week and make sure we execute that,” he told NBC Sports this week.

USFL Week 9 – Houston Gamblers vs. Birmingham Stallions

  • When: Saturday, June 11 at 6 p.m. ET
  • Where: Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama
  • TV: USA Network
  • Stream:

The Stallions have managed to execute week in, week out, in all sorts of ways.

Last week, the Stallions engaged in a defensive struggle with the Breakers (see highlights at the top). Wright made eight tackles, suitably playing his role in a game that included a total of six turnovers and five missed kicks.

Following Brandon Aubrey’s go-ahead field goal with less than two minutes to go in the game, the Stallions sealed a 10-9 win on an interception from Josh Shaw with six seconds left. With that, they overcame a second-half deficit to win for the seventh time in eight games this season.

Afterwards, head coach Skip Holtzwho had previously told NBC Sports that the then 4-0 Stallions hadn’t quite put it all together yet as a team – proclaimed the Stallions as championship caliber on account of their mental toughness.

“A championship team isn’t perfect,” Holtz said. “A championship team isn’t [a team that] never has a bad play. But a championship football team overcomes those things because they’re mentally tough enough to do it.”

When asked where that toughness has come from, Wright pointed to his teammates.

“We have some good guys on our defense that just love football – and are some dogs, to be honest,” said Wright, who may also have some dog in himself if his “Shark Dawg” sack celebration from Week 4 was an indication.

“Just that ‘we’ll never quit.’ I know (linebacker) DeMarquis Gates – he’s a great football player, he plays hard every single play. We have a lot of great guys on our defense: (cornerback) Brian Allen, Josh Shaw, a lot of guys with good football experience and guys who are good football players.

“When we’re firing on all cylinders, we do pretty good. So (we) just got to make sure we keep doing it.”

RELATED: 2022 USFL Playoff Picture – Current standings, clinching scenarios, and key dates to know ahead of Week 9

There’s more football to play, but on the field, Wright says it’s already been the best of his three excursions into the alternative pro leagues.

A former All-American at the University of Arizona and veteran of 13 NFL games (Cardinals, 2016-17), Wright’s pro career continued in the Alliance of American Football (Arizona Hotshots, 2019) and the second version of the XFL (DC Defenders, 2020).

On both of those occasions, the league shut down before it could complete a season.

When his time in the XFL was over, Wright took up martial arts and competed in jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai tournaments. He also began training to become a firefighter in his home of Sonoma County, California (more on that below in our First and 10 section).

But when the USFL emerged, Wright couldn’t resist putting the football pads on again.

In comments from February to a sports radio station in Tucson, Arizona, he noted the “comical part” of going back into alt-league football after the AAF and XFL’s untimely ends.

But he also said: “No regrets – I’m not trying to look back when I’m 50 and wish I would’ve done this or done that. I’m just going to send it.”

Wright’s done just that, and he’s now a key component for a Stallions defense that’s allowing the fewest points per game (16.8) and second-fewest net yards per game (277.1) in the USFL.

He’s also become a sort of folk hero to the Stallions fans at Protective Stadium and Legion Field who come wearing shark masks and Scooby-Doo – or is it Shark Dawg? – chains around their necks. One fan had the honor of giving Wright his own chain.

As the host team this season, the support for the Stallions has been noticeable compared to the other teams. But what if that support becomes more muted in a postseason played on a neutral site?

“Don’t get me wrong, we love our fans here in Birmingham – they’ve fully accepted us and it’s really cool,” Wright said. “But I think it’ll be a good experience for us to go up there and see how we play as an ‘away’ game.

“But it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. It’s football. You lob the ball up and you go out there and play. The fans are large to an extent, but it’s not like there’s 80,000 people in the stands.”

Focus on the field. Tune out the noise. Get the win. Move on to the next game.

Sounds like a Shark Dawg’s mentality to us.

First and 10 with Scooby Wright

10 quick questions to get to know the new talent of the USFL

Pre-game ritual?

“Not really. I just kind of have my music on and just chill.”

Post-game ritual?

“Not really.”

Favorite food?

“Pizza after the game… Pepperoni, or meat lover’s.”

Favorite football player?

“James Harrison… Just that he was kind of a journeyman early on in his career and his work ethic, just the way he went about his business.”

Favorite movie?

“The Wolf of Wall Street.”

 Favorite vacation spot?

“Negril, Jamaica.”

 Most famous person you’ve met outside of football?

“Machine Gun Kelly.”

How would your family and friends describe you as a person?

“I don’t know, if I’m being honest. Depends on who you ask.”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?

“I wish I was 6’2″. Tired of being called short as a linebacker.”

Name one thing about yourself that not everybody knows about you.

“I’m certified to be a firefighter.”

(Writer: Do you plan on continuing that path after the season’s over?)

“I really don’t know what my next few months hold. Just trying to figure it out to be honest. Just feel like I’m jumping timelines back and forth. But I graduated the fire academy in December – got firefighter 1, firefighter 2, all my certificates. Then I was in the process of working on my EMT courses, so I’ve got to get my EMT course, like a five or six week course and pass a test, then I’ll be able to apply for jobs. But I was volunteering as a firefighter back home.”

(Writer: What about being a firefighter or a first responder appeals to you?)

“It was, moreso, I have five or six friends I played with that are all firefighters. So that’s interesting how that would’ve worked out for me, but my football coach growing up is actually the fire captain at the station I work at now. So who knows what’s going to happen. Hopefully I get into another training camp and get an opportunity but just figure it out from there. Probably get back into martial arts, do that stuff.”

USFL Week 9 Schedule

Saturday, June 11

Sunday, June 12

  • Tampa Bay Bandits (4-4) vs. New Orleans Breakers (5-3) – 4 p.m. ET on FOX
  • Philadelphia Stars (5-3) vs. Pittsburgh Maulers (1-7) – 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1

2023 USFL Season Schedule: Dates, times, locations, new teams, playoff format, and more


The 2023 USFL Season kicks off on Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16 with four thrilling games. First, the Philadelphia Stars will take on the Memphis Showboats at 4:30 PM ET followed by a New Jersey Generals vs Birmingham Stallions match up at 7:30 PM ET. On Sunday, the Michigan Panthers will go head-to-head with the Houston Gamblers at noon, followed by a Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Orleans Breakers match up at 6:30 PM.

RELATED: 2023 USFL Draft order – Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 10

Season 2 of the USFL features four host cities–Detroit, Memphis, Canton, and Birmingham. This is a significant change from last year when all 10-regular season games were contested in Birmingham, Alabama and playoff games took place in Canton, Ohio. Additionally, the 2023 season will also feature a new team. The Tampa Bay Bandits will now be called the Memphis Showboats. Memphis was one of the original teams featured in the first edition of the USFL.

See below for the full 2023 USFL Season Schedule as well as answers to any questions you may have before the upcoming season. Be sure to check back for the latest updates to the schedule.

RELATED: Control what you can control – How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL

How many teams are in the USFL?

There are a total of 8 teams in the USFL that make up two divisions:

North Division:

  • Michigan Panthers
  • New Jersey Generals
  • Philadelphia Stars
  • Pittsburgh Maulers

South Division:

  • Birmingham Stallions
  • Houston Gamblers
  • New Orleans Breakers
  • Memphis Showboats

Where will games be contested during the 2023 USFL Season?

The 2023 USFL season will feature four host cities: Detroit, Memphis, Canton, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama.

  • The New Jersey Generals and Pittsburgh Maulers will be hosted in Canton, Ohio at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
  • The Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers will be hosted in Birmingham at Protective Stadium.
  • The Michigan Panthers and Philadelphia Stars will be hosted in Detroit, Michigan at Ford Field.
  • The Memphis Showboats and Houston Gamblers will be hosted in Memphis, Tennessee at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

RELATED: Just Keep Going – Stallions RB CJ Marable makes a policy of perseverance

How many weeks are in the USFL’s regular season?

There are 10 weeks in the regular season. Each team will go head-to-head with division rivals twice and face off against teams of the opposite division once.

How will 2023 USFL playoffs work?

After the 10 week regular season comes to a close, the top two teams from each division will go head-to-head in two playoff games in late June, with the winners advancing to the USFL Championship game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

2023 USFL Season Schedule:

*All times are listed as ET


Saturday, April 15
Philadelphia at Memphis – 4:30 p.m. (FOX)
New Jersey at Birmingham – 7:30 p.m. (FOX)

Sunday, April 16
Michigan at Houston – 12 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)
Pittsburgh at New Orleans – 6:30 p.m. (FS1)


Saturday, April 22
Houston at New Orleans – 12:30 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Memphis at Birmingham – 7 p.m. (FOX)

Sunday, April 23
New Jersey at Pittsburgh – 12 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)
Michigan at Philadelphia – 7 p.m. (FS1)


Saturday, April 29
New Orleans at Birmingham – 12:30 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Memphis at Houston – 7 p.m. (FOX)

Sunday, April 30
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia – 12 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)
New Jersey at Michigan – 4 p.m. (FOX)


Saturday, May 6 
Houston at Philadelphia – 1 p.m. (FOX)
Memphis at Michigan –  7:30 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)

Sunday, May 7
New Orleans at New Jersey – 3 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)
Birmingham at Pittsburgh – 6:30 p.m. (FS1)


Saturday, May 13
Pittsburgh at Michigan – 12:30 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Houston at Birmingham – 4 p.m. (FOX)

Sunday, May 14
New Jersey at Philadelphia – 12 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)
Memphis at New Orleans – 3 p.m. (FOX)


Saturday, May 20
Pittsburgh at Memphis – 12:30 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Birmingham at Michigan –  4 p.m. (FOX)

Sunday, May 21
New Orleans at Philadelphia – 12 p.m. (FS1)
New Jersey at Houston – 4 p.m. (FOX)


Saturday, May 27
Birmingham at New Orleans –  4 p.m. (FOX)
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh – 9 p.m. (FS1)

Sunday, May 28
Houston at Memphis – 2 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Michigan at New Jersey – 5:30 p.m. (FS1)


Saturday, June 3
Houston at Pittsburgh – 12 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Philadelphia at Birmingham – 3 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)

Sunday, June 4
Memphis at New Jersey – 1 p.m. (FOX)
Michigan at New Orleans – 4 p.m. (FOX)


Saturday, June 10
Michigan at Pittsburgh – 12 p.m. (FOX)
New Orleans at Memphis – 3 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)

Sunday, June 11
Birmingham at Houston – 2 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)
Philadelphia at New Jersey – 7 p.m. (FOX)


Saturday, June 17
Pittsburgh at New Jersey – 1 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Birmingham at Memphis – 4 p.m. (FOX)

Sunday, June 18
New Orleans at Houston – 4 p.m. (FS1)
Philadelphia at Michigan – 7 p.m. (FOX)

RELATED: XFL, USFL to dump the worst rule in football

2023 USFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 10

It's the Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Jersey Generals this Friday night on USA Network.
Getty Images

As the USFL prepares for its second season, it reached a historic milestone by completing the 2023 USFL Draft. Eight teams selected a total of 80 eligible players across 10 rounds.

Out of over 3,000 eligible players, the first pick of the draft was Michigan State offensive tackle Jarrett Horst to the Michigan Panthers. The Panthers selected first because the winner of the Week 10 contest vs. the Pittsburgh Maulers decided the team that started the draft. The Panthers were victorious 33-21. The New Jersey Generals did not have a pick in the first round and their second and fifth-round picks were penalized because of “a violation of offseason roster management rules.” Instead, the Generals had its first pick shifted to the last pick of the entire draft in Round 10.

The USFL was founded in 1982. Since the USFL does not take place during the NFL season, it was intended to “try and fill the NFL-sized hole for fans when it begins play in the spring.” After its founding, the USFL ceased operations two seasons later in 1986. The 2023 season marks the first time since the beginning of the league that has had back-to-back seasons. Usually, spring leagues would host a 60-round selection draft, but USFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Daryl Johnston said that they are working to add more talent to each team’s roster, not rebuilding the eight teams.

The top 3 players selected in the draft were Horst, Incarnate Word quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr., and Appalachian State quarterback Chase Brice.

2023 USFL Draft

Round 1

  1. Michigan Panthers – Jarrett Horst, OT, Michigan State
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Lindsey Scott Jr., QB, Incarnate Word
  3. Houston Gamblers – Chase Brice, QB, Appalachian State
  4. Memphis Showboats – Mason Brooks, OT, Mississippi
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati
  6. Philadelphia Stars – Alfred Edwards III, OT, Utah State
  7. Birmingham Stallions – Kadeem Telfort, OT, UAB

Round 2

  1. Michigan Panthers – Tanner Morgan, QB, Michigan State
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Malik Hamm, DE, Lafayette
  3. Houston Gamblers – Justin Ford, CB, Montana
  4. Memphis Showboats – Isaiah Bolden, CB, Jackson State
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Noah Taylor, LB, Virginia
  6. Philadelphia Stars – Anderson Hardy, OT, Appalachian State
  7. Birmingham Stallions – Quinton Barrow, OT, Grand Valley State
  8. New Jersey Generals – Adrian Martinez, QB Kansas State

Round 3

  1. Michigan Panthers – Santrell Latham, LB, Southern Miss
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Tre’Quan Dorsey, OL, St. Francis
  3. Houston Gamblers – Joseph Fisher, OG, Shepard
  4. Memphis Showboats – Brevin Allen, DE, Campbell
  5. New Orleans Breakers – DJ Ivey, CB, Miami, Fla.
  6. Philadelphia Stars – Isaac Moore, OT, Temple
  7. Birmingham Stallions – Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville
  8. New Jersey Generals – JJ Holloman, WR, Tennessee State

Round 4

  1. Michigan Panthers – DJ Scaife Jr., OL, Miami Fla.
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Ferlando Jordan, DB, SE Louisiana
  3. Houston Gamblers – Scott Matlock, DT, Boise State
  4. Memphis Showboats – Benny Sapp III, DB, Northern Iowa
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina
  6. Philadelphia Stars – Truman Jones, DE, Harvard
  7. Birmingham Stallions – Derius Davis, WR, TCU
  8. New Jersey Generals – Victor Jones, DE, Akron

Round 5

  1. Michigan Panthers – Dashaun White, LB, Oklahoma
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Isaiah Land, DE, Florida A&M
  3. Houston Gamblers – Jeffrey Johnson, DT, Oklahoma
  4. Memphis Showboats – Michael Ezeiki, TE, UCLA
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Isaiah Moore, LB, NC State
  6. Philadelphia Stars – Earl Bostick Jr., OT, Kansas
  7. Birmingham Stallions – Zeke Vandenburgh, LB, Illinois State
  8. New Jersey Generals – De’Jahn Warren, CB, Jackson State

Round 6

  1. Michigan Panthers – Levi Russo-Bell, DE, Texas State
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Nash Jensen, OG, North Dakota State
  3. Houston Gamblers – Keenan Isaac, DB, Alabama State
  4. Memphis Showboats – Jerome Carvin, OL, Tennessee
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Dante Stills, DL, West Virginia
  6. New Jersey Generals – Derrick Tucker, DB, Texas Southern
  7. Philadelphia Stars – Jose Ramirez, DE, Eastern Michigan
  8. Birmingham Stallions – Colby Sorsdal, OT, William & Mary

Round 7

  1. Michigan Panthers – Gunnar Oakes, TE, Eastern Michigan
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Taylor Grimes, WR, Incarnate Word
  3. Houston Gamblers – Alex Jensen, OL, South Dakota
  4. Memphis Showboats – Nehemiah Shelton, CB, San Jose State
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Darius Hagans, RB, Virginia State
  6. New Jersey Generals – Jermaine McDaniel, DE, North Carolina A&T
  7. Philadelphia Stars – Demontrey Jacobs, OL, South Florida
  8. Birmingham Stallions – Grant Dubose, WR, Charlotte

Round 8

  1. Michigan Panthers – Andrew Farmer II, OLB, Lane College
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – CJ Turner, WR, SE Louisiana
  3. Houston Gamblers – Brady Russell, TE, Colorado
  4. Memphis Showboats, Trea Shropshire, WR, UAB
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Jake Bobo, WR, UCLA
  6. New Jersey Generals – Adam Korsak, P, Rutgers
  7. Philadelphia Stars – Trey Botts, DL, Colorado State-Pueblo
  8. Birmingham Stallions – Mark Evans II, Ol, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Round 9

  1. Michigan Panthers – Chim Okorafor, OT, Benedictine
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Jacob Slade, DT, Michigan State
  3. Houston Gamblers – Jason Taylor II, S, Oklahoma State
  4. Memphis Showboats – Silas Dzansi, OT, Virginia Tech
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Alex Palczewski, OT, Illinois
  6. New Jersey Generals – Jalen Holston, RB, Virginia Tech
  7. Philadelphia Stars – Destin Mack, CB, Citadel
  8. Birmingham Stallions – B.J. Thompson, DE, Stephen F. Austin

Round 10

  1. Michigan Panthers – Sidy Sow, OG, Eastern Michigan
  2. Pittsburgh Maulers – Ethan Evans, K, Wingate
  3. Houston Gamblers – Colby Reeder, LB, Iowa State
  4. Memphis Showboats – Antonio Fletcher, S, Southern Illinois
  5. New Orleans Breakers – Tyler Baker-Williams, CB, NC State
  6. New Jersey Generals – Nick Zecchino, LS, Purdue
  7. Philadelphia Stars – Dre Terry, LB, Alabama A&M
  8. Birmingham Stallions – Starling Thomas V, CB, UAB
  9. New Jersey Generals – Rey Estes, CB, Grambling State**