USFL holds tryouts hosted in partnership with HUB Football

USFL holds tryouts hosted in partnership with HUB Football

Feb 20

By Eric Williams
FOX Sports Football Reporter

SAN DIEGO — A midseason acquisition for the Pittsburgh Maulers last season, quarterback Roland Rivers is in search of another USFL opportunity.

Awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy as the best player in Division II after leading Slippery Rock to the semifinals in 2019, Rivers played four games for the Maulers in 2022, completing 50% of his passes for 366 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Released from his contract last month, Rivers attended a USFL tryout hosted in partnership with HUB Football, a group founded by agent Don Yee that works to connect players with professional opportunities. The event at San Diego's Maranatha Christian High on Sunday included 58 free agent players seeking a chance to latch on with the USFL or other pro teams. 

"It was a phenomenal opportunity to be coached by former NFL coaches," Rivers said about playing in the USFL last season. "People that had a ton of knowledge, poured into each and every one of us. I got signed pretty late, the last four weeks of the season, but it still was an amazing experience, playing professional football and signing my first contract."

Rivers said he's healthy, in great shape and ready to play.

"Today was a lot of fun," he said. "There's a lot of talent out here. I feel like I put some good things on film, made some throws and didn't turn the football over. I feel really good. It felt great out here in California today, and I'm excited for what comes next." 

Along with the tryout over the weekend, the USFL will hold its first-ever, 10-round traditional college draft on Tuesday. Out of the more than 400 players to compete in the USFL last season, 69 signed contracts to compete in 2002 NFL training camps, including Pro Bowl return man KaVontae Turpin for the Dallas Cowboys.

John Peterson, the USFL's director of player personnel, was on hand for the San Diego event and said one of the league's primary goals is for players to improve and move on the NFL. 

"I saw some talent out here today," Peterson said. "There were a few guys that we've had on our radar that we've wanted in the league, but most of all it was identifying some new guys, [including] some guys that can run routes. We timed some guys, just to get an idea of what they can do."

One of the players who stood out during the on-field workout was Rodell Rahmaan, a former receiver converted to tight end. Rahmaan attended rookie minicamp with Seattle Seahawks and was cut just before training camp last season. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Rahmaan ran a 4.59 40 and looked fluid running routes and catching the football.

A Columbus, Ohio, native, Rahmaan played at Tennessee State for boyhood idol Eddie George. 

"It went perfect today," Rahmaan said. "I felt like it was everything I could ask for. Just being from Ohio, we don't get scenery or weather like this in February. So I couldn't ask for anything better." 

Another pass-catcher who turned heads was receiver Brandon Jordan. The Southern California native played at Ventura College and spent three seasons at Division III University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas, where he finished his career with 112 receptions for 1,861 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns. Jordan won a Division III national championship with the Crusaders in 2021. 

At 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Jordan is a big-bodied receiver who can go up and get it in the red zone.

"I'm just trying to make something happen," Jordan said. "I got an opportunity, so I'm just trying to take it step by step and see what I can do with it, get in front of some people and build some connections. I'm just happy I got to showcase what I can contribute to a team." 

Also showing what he can contribute was versatile defensive back Traveon Beck, who can play cornerback, slot defender and safety. A Cal product, Beck has played indoor football with the Vegas Night Hawks and for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL this past season.

Like everyone else, the 5-foor-10, 180-pound Beck is just looking for another chance to show he belongs. 

"It would mean the world to me," Beck said when asked about playing in the USFL. "I've been grinding and fighting these past two years. I sat out a whole year and didn't play football, so that really took a toll on me. But I just refuse to give up on my dreams, and I hope I get a shot." 

At 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, safety Tre Webb signed as an undrafted free agent out of Montana State with the Atlanta Falcons last year, but he suffered a torn groin and was cut during training camp. 

Webb is hoping to earn another shot with the USFL.

"It's all about competition to me," Webb said. "I love this game, so whatever team signs me is going to get a great leader, a great guy that knows the game inside and out, and is ready to work." 

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: