Former NY Jets on the St. Louis Battlehawks
Anthony Becht, HC
A former first-round pick of the New York Jets, Anthony Becht played five seasons in green and white in the early 2000s. Becht was a solid all-around tight end who had an 11-year career in the NFL.
Becht made the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team in 2000 but was largely overshadowed by one of the Jets' most incredible draft classes up until this previous season, which saw the unbelievable rise of dual rookies of the year, cornerback Sauce Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson, not to mention the breakout performance of running back Breece Hall.
Becht joined the league with fellow first-round picks John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, and Chad Pennington. That team and group of players saw a lot of success. For all but one year during Becht's time with New York, the Jets were a playoff team and contender.
Never flashy, the heady Becht played his role well with the Jets on offense and special teams, so it's no surprise that he transitioned to life as an analyst in his post-playing career. Becht has also played the role of lead and mentor to players off the field.
The combination of that with dabbling in coaching players in college all-star games, the NFL combine, high school, and spring pro football has given him the bug to lead his own pro team.
It's an unconventional hire by the XFL, but Anthony Becht sold the league during the interview process and went from a dark-horse candidate to a lead dog. He's compiled a unique St. Louis staff, including former NFL QB Bruce Gradkowski as his offensive coordinator.
Little known fact, Gradkowski has exclusively graded all NFL passes for Pro Football Focus for the last several seasons.
Tory Woodbury, TEs coach/special teams coordinator
It's not shocking to see Becht reunite with former teammates-turned-coaches on his staff. Tory Woodbury spent two seasons with Becht on the Jets from 2001-2002.
The undrafted small-college QB from Winston-Salem State found a way onto New York's roster by playing scout team QB, WR, and on every unit on special teams. That versatility is what caught the eyes of teammates and coaches, and ultimately led Woodbury to a career in coaching.
He has paid his dues as an intern, scout, and assistant in the NFL and college ranks. Becht is giving Woodbury a shot to further his career.
Donnie Abraham, DC
A former teammate of Anthony Becht's with the Jets from 2002-2004, Donnie Abraham has followed a similar path to Becht's in his post-playing career. The former Pro Bowl cornerback, after years of being an assistant, is getting an opportunity to coordinate his own defense.
La'Roi Glover: DL coach
There's a recurring theme on Anthony Becht's staff. La'Roi Glover is another accomplished former NFL player who has worked his way up the coaching ranks, and Glover, like Becht, also has a history with the NY Jets, except not as a player.
The six-time Pro Bowl defensive end coached up the Jets' defensive line for two years in 2017 and 2018. XFL players would benefit from taking Glover's guidance, not just because of his impressive playing resume, but because once upon a time, Glover resurrected his career playing for the Barcelona Dragons in NFL Europe.
Freedom Akinmoladun, DL
One player who can benefit from Glover's tutelage is former Jets defensive lineman Freedom Akinmoladun. The former Nebraska standout didn't spend much time on the Jets back in 2021 on the team's practice squad, but short stints, unfortunately, have been a regular thing for him.
Akinmoladun has played in four NFL games but has been a regular on three separate team's practice squads since 2019.
George Campbell, WR
Chances are that if you are a Jets fan and don't remember Freedom Akinmoladum, you won't recall George Campbell's time with the green and white. The former four-star recruit out of Florida was an undrafted free agent by the Jets in 2020 but was let go at final cuts.
The 6-foot-4, 183-pound wideout had a tumultuous time in college at FSU and West Virginia and has never lived up to his billing. Becht, who has covered the Jets for several seasons, has seen the potential of players like Campbell in Jets' camp. Becht and his staff are giving him a shot to realize it.