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Ten Former Vols Set to Debut in The Rock’s New XFL this Weekend

Kahlil McKenzie XFL
Vegas Vipers OL and former Tennessee lineman Kahlil McKenzie. Photo via Vegas Vipers on Instagram.

There are 10 former Tennessee football players that are rostered and set to debut in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s XFL revamp this upcoming season.

After the league was originally shut down amidst the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson and his team eventually bought the XFL for $15 million in August 2020. Now, less than three years later, the XFL is ready to kick off their re-debut season this upcoming weekend.

The 11 former Tennessee players are spread out among five of the eight XFL teams.

The Orlando Guardians have four, the Arlington Renegades and D.C. Defenders have two each, and the Seattle Sea Dragons and Vegas Vipers each have one.

Here’s a look at how the players landed:

Orlando Guardians
  • QB Quinten Dormady (2015-2017)
  • WR JaVonta Payton (2021)
  • DL Ja’Quain Blakely (2016-2021)
  • DB Shaquille Wiggins (2017)
  • DB Baylen Buchanan (2016-2018)
Arlington Renegades
  • TE Alex Ellis (2011-2015)
  • TE Dominick Wood-Anderson (2018-2019)
D.C. Defenders
  • WR Josh Malone (2014-2016)
  • TE Ethan Wolf (2014-2017)
Seattle Sea Dragons
  • DB Bryce Thompson (2018-2020)
Vegas Vipers
  • OL Kahlil McKenzie (2015-2017)
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The 2023 XFL season will kick off this Saturday, Feb. 18, at the various locations around the country. The first week of the XFL season will also see a number of Volunteers go head-to-head with each other, too.

While they won’t be on the field at the same time, McKenzie’s Vipers will take on Ellis and Wood-Anderson’s Renegades in the official XFL debut on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. ET on ABC.

Later that night, at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN/FX, the four Orlando Vols will take on the Houston Roughnecks, who do not have any former Tennessee players.

Then, on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, the Defenders will host the Seattle Dragons, putting WR Josh Malone and TE Ethan Wolf on the field at the same time as defensive back Bryce Thompson. While Wolf and Malone did spend three seasons together at Tennessee, neither of them played during Thompson’s years in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

This will be back-to-back weekends with former Tennessee players on the professional football field after the Kansas City Chiefs’ Trey Smith won Super Bowl LVII this past Sunday.

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