Former Panthers Headed to USFL

Football kicker kicking the football during a game
Brandon Wright, punter for Georgia State’s football team, kicks off the new season at the annual Spring Game at the Georgia State Stadium. Photo by Michael Pascale | The Signal

The United States Football League conducted its inaugural draft that featured the selections of two former standout Georgia State football players. 

With the sixth pick in the 18th round, the New Orleans Breakers selected Safety Dartez Jacobs. Jacobs played two years with Panthers, lettering both years and earning Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.

Jacobs was signed earlier this year to the Swarco Raiders of the European Football League after playing a season with the Cologne Centurions. Having a stellar season with 43 tackles, seven pass breakups, and one interception.

With the fourth pick in the 32nd round, the Tampa Bay Bandits selected Punter Brandon Wright. Wright was a 4-year starter for the Panthers as a Placekicker-Punter who set countless records.

Wright broke a career record in punting average at 42.3 yards per kick, previously set by New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl kicker Wil Lutz. He also scored a school-record 48 PAT and earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors in 2018.

After an illustrious collegiate career, Wright competed in the NFL for a brief period, playing with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams. Most recently, he played in the European League of Football in Germany. 

On Jun. 3, 2021, the USFL announced its return after a  40-year hiatus. The season will begin on Apr. 16 and be a 12-week, 10-game season. 

There are eight teams that are split into two divisions: The North consists of the Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars and Pittsburgh Maulers. 

The South consists of the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers and Tampa Bay Bandits.

Each team consists of a 38 man roster and a seven-player practice squad. A draft like no other seen in professional sports determined the roster.

“For the 2022 season, we’re using an analytic modified snake system that’s equitable for all our teams during our first-ever draft,” League President Brian Woods said.

The draft followed a modified snake format which is teams selecting players in a preset draft order while also having the top choice in two of the position-specific rounds.

Day one of the draft consisted of the first round solely for the selection of Quarterbacks. The round began with the Michigan Panthers selecting Shea Patterson as the number one overall pick. The former Michigan Wolverine signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2020 but was released later that year. 

Rounds 2-4 were specified for the selection of edge rushers and defensive ends. Some notable players selected were former University of Georgia standout Davin Bellamy and XFL leader in sacks, Cavon Walker. 

Day one rounded out with arguably the most critical positions on the football field with the selection of offensive tackles, cornerbacks and backup quarterbacks. 

Day two is where teams filled out the majority of the roster as wide receivers, linebackers, kickers and punters were selected.

The USFL season will be hosted in Birmingham, Alabama, as they plan to televise its games on Fox and NBC stations. The first game between the Birmingham Stallions and the New Jersey Generals will air on Apr. 16 at 6:30 pm at Protective Stadium.