USFL 2023 season preview: QB Brady White gets nod as Showboats return to Memphis
Showboats coach Todd Haley will rely on hometown hero Brady White, a record-setting QB at the University of Memphis, to lead way in 2023.
By Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports USFL Writer
With new uniforms and in a new city, head coach Todd Haley and the Memphis Showboats are ready to kick things off again in Bluff City.
Haley led the Tampa Bay Bandits to a 4-6 campaign in the USFL’s return to the field last season. However, the Bandits have been put on pause and replaced by the Showboats in a return to Memphis this year.
Haley recently announced that Brady White will get the first start at quarterback for his team in the USFL opening weekend against the visiting Philadelphia Stars on Saturday at Liberty Stadium.
The University of Memphis product won the job in a three-man competition with Ryan Willis and Cole Kelley.
Haley said for now he’s leaning on White’s experience in the offense, having been with Haley last season when he coached the Bandits. White threw for a school-record 10,690 passing yards and 90 touchdowns during his three seasons as a starter for the Tigers.
"Brady has kind of cemented himself as the starter here as we get the season going," Haley said. "But Ryan and Cole are talented guys that have impressed us throughout this process. I don’t think it’s beyond thinking that you’ll see all these guys play at some point.
"The name of the game is winning. So, whoever gives us the best chance to win will be the guy handling the football most of the time. But Brady, having been with us most of the time last year, definitely had a head start. I know he’s excited about being in Memphis, where he played his college football. He’s like a superstar walking around town down here. I know he’s enjoying and embracing that, and we’ll just have to see how it plays out."
White will be helped by Memphis returning the team’s top four pass catchers from last season in Derrick Dillon, Rashard Davis, John Franklin III and Vinny Papale. Those four combined for 1,169 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season.
"This team is ready to go," Davis said. "We’re disciplined. We’re all about each other and doing what’s best for the team. There’s not a lot of ‘me’ guys around here. Just guys that are trying to come together and help each other win."
In the backfield, the Showboats have one of the top newcomers in the USFL in running back Alex Collins, who spent time in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and the Seattle Seahawks, totaling a career 1,997 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in five NFL seasons.
Inside linebacker Anthony Butler returns to lead the defense for Memphis. At 6-1 and 230 pounds, Butler finished with 50 combined tackles and two interceptions last season. Edge rusher Greg Reaves, who had three sacks last season, is also back as one of Haley’s top pass rushers.
Memphis also has the top punter in the USFL back in Brandon Wright, who finished with a league-leading 41 yards in net punt average last season, including a long of 76 yards and 16 inside the 20-yard line.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
More on the USFL:
- USFL 2023: How to watch, team previews, best players
- The full week-by-week 2023 USFL schedule
- Five potential USFL MVP candidates to keep an eye on ahead of 2023 season
- Michigan Panthers preview: Rising defense under Mike Nolan
- Pittsburgh Maulers preview: Fresh faces and a fresh start?
- Birmingham Stallions preview: Champs look to run it back
- New Jersey Generals preview: Building on a 9-1 season
- Memphis Showboats preview: QB Brady White to steer the ship
- Houston Gamblers preview: A focus on team speed
- Philadelphia Stars preview: Championship or bust
- New Orleans Breakers preview: Back to the postseason?