California doesn’t have an official team in the new United States Football League. Although the league did tickle the nostalgia bone by giving its eight teams names from the original USFL that played from 1983 to 1985, the Los Angeles Express and Oakland Invaders didn’t make the cut.
Maybe next time.
The USFL is a Fox Sports–backed entity with eight teams playing a 10–week season. The entire regular season is being played at two stadiums in Birmingham, Alabama, so really, the city names are phony. The playoffs will be in Canton, Ohio.
No, this is not the first new football league to try to entice fans to watch in the spring. Will it work? NBC reported viewership of nearly 3 million for the first game. Three of the first four games were decided on the final drive.
Yes, you can bet on the games (just not legally in California, yet). Favorites went 3–1 in the first week covering the spread. The under on total points hit three out of four.
California doesn’t have an official team, but it has dozens of players playing in the USFL. Here is who California football fans should be looking for.
A California star on Stars
It says something that of the eight USFL teams, two will likely be led by California-bred quarterbacks before the season goes much further.
If the USFL wanted a star to push, they should look at Philadelphia Stars starting quarterback Bryan Scott.
Scott threw for a league-best 202 yards in the Stars’ season-opening loss to the New Orleans Breakers. Scott was born in Rolling Hills and went to Palos Verdes High School, where he led his team to the CIF Southern Section title.
He played college ball at Occidental and set records there, including throwing for 9,073 yards and 77 touchdowns. He was The Spring League MVP.
Another California QB to Love
The team that looked the worst in Week 1 was the Pittsburgh Maulers, who were listless in a 17-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Bandits.
The only time the Maulers looked good was with quarterback Josh Love at the controls. Love entered the game late in the first half and finished 9-15 for 121 yards.
Love is from Mission Viejo and played at Long Beach Poly in high school. He had a brilliant career at San Jose State and was the conference Player of the Year in 2019 for the Spartans.
Maybe California’s team?
While the Maulers were the most disappointing team in Week 1, they also have the most players in the USFL with California connections.
Wide receiver Bailey Gaither went to San Jose State (where he played with Love) and had three catches for 27 yards in the first week. He had a tryout with the Green Bay Packers coming out of college and reportedly “retired” in training camp, but joined the USFL.
The Maulers also boast former San Diego State star Kyahva Tezino. He was a beast as a two-way player at Salesian High School and is from Los Angeles. He had 12 total tackles in the first game for the Maulers.
Another Los Angeles native, Delvon Hardaway, had a catch for 22 yards for the Maulers. Hardaway played at Fresno State.
Maulers defensive tackle Boogie Roberts played at Narbonne High School in Harbor City before his college career at San Jose State.
USC alumni Nico Falah is on the Maulers’ offensive line.
California players dreaming of USFL glory
While the Maulers have the most California natives, players from the Golden State are all over the USFL.
Birmingham Stallions cornerback Josh Shaw played at USC. His career was memorable with the Trojans. He was involved in a weird story where he said he sprained both ankles jumping off a balcony to rescue a relative from drowning.
In reality, he was fleeing from police. His lie became very public.
Shaw was credited with a tackle in the Stallions’ loss to the New Jersey Generals.
The Stallions also have Long Beach native Ryan Pope on the offensive line. Pope played 24 games at San Diego State.
Stars kicker Matt Mengel went to UCLA. He’s from Harbor City. He had a field goal and two extra points in the Stars’ loss to the Breakers.
Michigan Panthers linebacker Frank Ginda played at Pacheco High School and is from Los Banos. He’s spent time with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals. He led the nation in tackles when he was a junior at San Jose State.
Former Stanford running back Cameron Scarlett is in the backfield with the Panthers. He had one carry for 15 yards in Week 1.
The Generals have safety Mike Bell Jr., who went to Perris Citrus Hill High School in Moreno Valley. He played at Fresno State.
Another Stanford star, Quenton Meeks, had eight tackles for the Bandits in Week 1. Meeks is from San Diego. His father, Ron, was a long-time NFL assistant coach.
Bandits tight end De’Quan Hampton played at USC and prepped at Dominguez High School in Compton.