When Terrell Buckley took over as coach of the Orlando Guardians, he promised plenty of familiar faces for fans to cheer on during the team’s first season in the revamped XFL.
Buckley and his coaching staff drafted a roster with several players who spent their college careers in the Sunshine State.
The Guardians selected former University of Miami receiver Charleston Rambo with their first pick, the fourth overall, in the XFL draft. Rambo spent one season with the Hurricanes after transferring from Oklahoma, where he played for three seasons for the Sooners. During his time in South Florida, he led the team in receptions (79), receiving yards (1,172) and touchdowns (7).
Rambo went undrafted before signing with the Carolina Panthers as a practice-squad player, but he was waived on Aug. 30.
Orlando used eight of its 11 picks in the offensive-skill position part of the draft on wide receivers, a tight end (Ryan Becker, SMU), and two running backs (Jah-Maine Martin, N.C. A&T and Devin Darrington, Virginia). Martin was an All-American and All-MEAC performer with the Aggies, highlighted by 1,446 rushing yards and 23 TDs in 2019.
The Guardians added a few familiar names during the defensive-backs portion of the draft, selecting cornerback Antwan Collier (UCF/FAMU) and safety Matt Elam (Florida).
Collier, a Miami native, played four seasons at UCF but was kicked off the team after he was arrested for an illegal gun charge during a traffic stop on campus in 2020. He finished his college career at Florida A&M. Elam, who grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, played three seasons for the Gators, finishing with 176 tackles and 6 interceptions.
Buckley and his staff loaded up on state talent during the defensive front-seven portion of the draft, selecting defensive tackle Gerald Willis (Miami) and linebackers Terrance Plummer (UCF), Terrance Smith (FSU) and DeCalon Brooks (FSU).
Willis spent one season at Florida before transferring to Miami, where he played nine games. Plummer spent four seasons with the Knights (2011-14) and was on the team that defeated Baylor in the 2013 season’s Fiesta Bowl. He went undrafted, signing with several NFL teams, including Washington and Minnesota, in addition to agreeing to a deal with the AAF’s Orlando Apollos before they shuttered.
Meanwhile, Smith played five seasons with the Seminoles (2011-15) before bouncing around the NFL while Brooks, the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Derrick Brooks, played four seasons in Tallahassee (2018-21).
The three-day draft event started with a quarterback selection show as the Guardians picked Deondre Francois (FSU) and Quinten Dormady (Central Michigan). It wraps up Thursday with special-teams selections.
OFFENSIVE SKILL POSITION
Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami (Round 1, 4th overall pick); Andrew Jamiel, WR, Stonehill (2, 13); Stephen Guidry, WR, Mississippi State (3, 20); Ryan Becker, TE, SMU (4, 29); Jah-Maine Martin, RB, North Carolina A&T (5, 36); Dontez Byrd, WR, Tennessee Tech (6, 45); Devin Darrington, RB, Virginia (7, 52); Octayvius Miles, WR, Alabama A&M (8, 61); Patrick Smith, WR, Tennessee State (9, 68); Dieuly Aristilde, WR, Bethel-Tennessee (10, 77); Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana (11, 84)
CJ Holmes, DB, Jackson State (12, 1); Javaris Davis, DB, Auburn (13, 16); Dee Virgin, DB, West Alabama (14,
17); Mike Lee, CB, Kansas (15, 32); Antwan Collier, CB, Florida A&M (16, 33); Maurice Smitherman, DB, Mississippi State (17, 48); Marcus Murphy, DB, Mississippi State (18, 49); Roman Tatum, DB, Southern Illinois (19, 64); Najeem Hosein, DB, Ferris State (20, 65); Shaquille Wiggins, DB, Tennessee (21, 80); Matt Elam, DB, Florida (22, 81)
DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn (23, 8); Gerald Willis, DT, Miami (24, 9); Stansly Maponga, DL, TCU (25, 24); Keonte Schad, DL, Oregon State (26, 25); Emmanuel Olenga, DL, Tennessee State (27, 40); Terrance Smith, LB, Florida State (28, 41); Terrance Plummer, LB, UCF (29, 56); Caeveon Patton, DL, Texas State (30, 57); Khristian Tate, DL, Georgetown (31, 72); Jacoby Jones, DL, Texas (32, 73); DeCalon Brooks, LB, Florida State (33, 88)
Brandon Murphy, Memphis (34, 5); Kamalie Matthews, Murray State (35, 12); Jachai Baker, South Alabama (36, 21); T.J. Bradley, Maryland (37, 28); Joshua Frazier, Alabama (38, 37); Zeveyon Furcron, Southern Illinois (39, 44); Jordan Ighofose, Grambling (40, 53); Jalen Spady, Florida A&M (41, 60); Shawn Page, Merrimack (42, 69); Sunday Deng, Northwestern Oklahoma State (43, 76)
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Matt Murschel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.