Kansas football: Multiple Jayhawks to make XFL debuts

Multiple former Kansas football players have found themselves on XFL rosters, and with the league set to kick off this Saturday, here’s what to expect.

The XFL is back, and with it comes an opportunity for four former Kansas football players. Whether or not the league actually succeeds is up in the air, but at the very least a few Jayhawks may have a shot to play their way onto NFL rosters.

The four Kansas players are Ben Heeney, Ben Johnson, Dwayne Wallace, and Steven Johnson. Here’s a brief breakdown of each Jayhawk, including their new home in the XFL.

Ben Heeney, MLB – New York Guardians:

After a successful career at Kansas highlighted by a First Team All-Big 12 selection in his senior year, Ben Heeney was drafted in the fifth round of 2015 NFL Draft. Heeney would bounce around in the league for three years before getting waived by the Houston Texans. He’d end up being taken in the XFL Draft by the New York Guardians. Look for Heeney to start for the Guardians this Sunday at middle linebacker.

Ben Johnson, TE – Seattle Dragons:

Ben Johnson finished his senior season off with a Second Team All-Big 12  selection. Johnson went undrafted, but signed with the Los Angles Chargers. After being waived by the Chargers, Johnson played in the inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football with the San Diego Fleet. After the AAF declared bankruptcy midseason, Johnson was again signed by the Chargers and then waived. He wound up being drafted by the Seattle Dragons of the XFL, and he’s listed as the second-string tight end on the Dragons’ depth chart.

Dwayne Wallace, RG – Los Angeles Wildcats:

After spending time at Riverside Community College and California, Wallace graduated from Kansas in 2018. Now with a shot at the pros, Wallace was taken by the Los Angeles Wildcats in the XFL Draft. He’s currently listed as the second-string right guard.

Steven Johnson, OLB – Seattle Dragons:

After walking on to the Kansas football team, Johnson would go on to lead the Big 12 in tackles in his senior season. Going undrafted, Johnson signed with the Denver Broncos and bounced around the NFL with four different teams though 2017. He played with the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF in 2019 but was left without a team after the league folded. Johnson was drafted by the Seattle Dragons of the XFL and is listed as a starting outside linebacker.

Week One XFL Schedule

The XFL kicks off this weekend with two games on Saturday and two more on Sunday. Here’s the schedule, with “*” games featuring the above Jayhawks (all times are central):

Saturday

  • Seattle Sea Dragons* vs. DC Defenders – 1:00 p.m. on ABC
  • LA Wildcats* vs. Houston Roughnecks – 4:00 p.m. on FOX

Sunday

  • Tampa Bay Vipers vs. New York Guardians* – 1:00 p.m. on FOX
  • Saint Louis Battlehawks vs. Dallas Renegades – 4:00 p.m. on ESPN

The XFL should be a fun experiment. For those that don’t know, the league will be implementing some notable rule changes. Probably the most unusual is that teams can throw two forward passes as long as they’re behind the line of scrimmage. Another change is the point after touchdown, which will allow teams to choose a one-point, two-point, or three-point option.

There’s a whole bunch of other small quirks here and there, so if you want to read the rules for yourself, click here.

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Ultimately, the XFL is a great opportunity for these former Jayhawks. They’ll get a chance to play football for a living, plus have a shot to showcase their skill to NFL clubs.