The XFL Rookie Draft took place last week in Arlington to little fanfare and no online or national broadcast. The rookie draft, which was held Friday, allowed the league’s eight teams, including the St. Louis Battlehawks, to select the rights of ten players.
The selection order was determined by the final record of each team during the 2023 season. As a result, the St. Louis Battlehawks would pick fourth in each round. St. Louis would have the opportunity to pick five offensive players and five defensive players.
On the offensive side, the Battlehawks selected James Bostic (TE, Ohio), Darion Chafin (WR, Incarnate Word), Jacob Gall (C, Baylor), Kenmore Gamble (TE, Central Florida), and Kevon Latulas (RB, Missouri State).
Meanwhile, on the defensive side, St. Louis selected Nico Bolden (DB, Kent State), Johnny Buchanan (LB, Delaware), Matthew Jester (DL, Princeton), Jadrian Taylor (DL, UTEP), and Anthony Witherstone (DB, Merrimack).
More information on the Battlehawks offensive players
A two-time academic conference selection in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) while working on his Master’s degree in management, Bostic was a senior co-captain at Vanderbilt before transferring to Ohio. He would grab 21 catches for 434 yards and a touchdown with Ohio in 2022. Bostic was a participant in a rookie mini-camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year.
The Incarnate Word wide receiver led the Cardinals with 18 receiving touchdowns while averaging 88.86 yards per game. He would set a university record with 262 receiving yards in one game. Chafin received All-American Third Team, Southland Conference All-Conference First Team, and Phil Steele All-American Team honors for his performance in the 2022 season.
The Baylor center finished the 2022 season as the 12th-ranked center in the country, per Pro Football Focus. Gall was an Offensive Lineman of the Year recipient by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. He would also receive all-conference honors from Pro Football Network, as well as the Big 12 Conference and Phil Steele.
The Central Florida tight end had 11 appearances in 2022, catching seven passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. He was a participant in the Hula Bowl Classic and was on the watchlist for the 2022 Mackey Award.
The former Missouri State Bear finished his career in Springfield carrying the ball 144 times for a total of 1,029 yards and six touchdowns. In addition, Latulas would carry 39 passes for 458 yards and four touchdowns. He was on the Honor Roll for the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
More information on the Battlehawks defensive players
Bolden was most recently with the Carolina Panthers after signing a contract out of free agency last month. Bolden played his final two seasons at Kent State, leading the Golden Flashes with 64 solo tackles in 2022. That marked the second-most tackles in the MAC.
Buchanan was a leader in the FCS standings with 150 tackles in the 2022 season. That performance would earn him First Team honors with the Colonial Athletic Association and a finalist honor for the Buck Buchanan Award. Buchanan appeared in all 13 games last season at Delaware, tying a school record with 23 tackles during a game against the Naval Academy (Navy).
Jester appeared in every single game during his final three seasons. He would end his career with the Tigers with 78 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks. The Princeton defensive lineman was an Ivy League all-conference selection in 2022.
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) product was most recently with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL. In 2022, Taylor led Conference USA in sacks with 9.5 sacks. In two seasons at UTEP, he would amass 81 tackles and 16 tackles. He is also credited for making a 100-yard touchdown via fumble return.
Witherstone received an invite to the Kansas City Chiefs rookie mini-camp earlier this year. His career at Merrimack ended with 74 tackles with 19 passes defended in 35 appearances. He also had four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Next steps for rookie selections
Players who were draft selections in the XFL Rookie Draft will be on the Battlehawks roster with players finishing the 2023 season on active and reserve lists. The Battlehawks will hold exclusive rights with the players they selected.
What’s next for undrafted players?
Undrafted players still have an opportunity to make an XFL team via a series of player showcases throughout June and July.
The Atlanta showcase recently passed this weekend, so four opportunities are remaining. Those dates are July 7 in St. Louis, Washington D.C. on July 9, Houston on July 14, and Tempe, Arizona on July 16.
These showcases will provide prospective football players, including those undrafted, an opportunity to exhibit their skills before XFL coaches and personnel.
Players will be evaluated based on performance for inclusion in the XFL Draft player pool for the upcoming 2024 season. The top performers in these showcases will receive an invite to Arlington for the XFL Combine, which will be July 25-27.
Registration is now open for the remaining XFL showcases.
More information will be discussed about the XFL Rookie Draft, as well as other news, in an upcoming episode of The XFL Insider Podcast. This article was previously published on Ambush Sports Network.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.