Football is [almost] back. Yes, you read that correctly. The USFL is set to kick off on April 16th, hoping to fill a void that many football fans here in America deal with every year (the NFL offseason). After doing some research, I found four former Texans that were drafted into this “new” league, most of whom only had short stints with the team. Even if these names may not be familiar to all, it should help establish a connection for current Texans fans.
It’s worth noting that Houston has their own USFL franchise, the Gamblers, who were also a part of the original league in 1984 and 1985. Although no former Texans found a second home in the same city, the Gamblers are looking to revive a spring football market that proved to be there for the taking in recent years. I’m specifically referring to the XFL and the success of the Houston Roughnecks. During a COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Roughnecks were undefeated through five games, drawing a sizable crowd at TDECU Stadium. Under an offense led by June Jones (former receivers coach for the Gamblers), with players such as P.J. Walker and Cam Phillips flourishing, the Roughnecks became legends in the City of Houston for a few weeks.
Although the XFL has plans to return in 2023, no cities or teams have been released yet. Right now, the USFL has an opportunity to shine, and some of their talent went through the Texans first. Without further ado, here are the four players who once suited up for the Battle Red:
Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Mississippi (Team: Tampa Bay Bandits)
Ta’amu’s first stop as a pro happened to be in Houston, where he appeared in 3 games during the 2019 preseason. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the best outing, completing just 7 of 12 passes for 50 yards and an interception over that span. He was released during final roster cuts, and wouldn’t find his next opportunity until early 2020. Ta’amu also ended up in the XFL, starting five games for the St. Louis BattleHawks. He proved to be one of the league’s top quarterbacks, and joined a few more NFL practice squads over the following two seasons. Ta’amu is currently considered by many to be the USFL’s best player heading into week one, a title he can hopefully maintain as time goes on.
Alex McGough, QB, Florida International (Team: Birmingham Stallions)
McGough had a productive four years at FIU, which made him a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad, and started 2019 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. McGough eventually signed with the Texans in September of that year, just days after Ta’amu was cut. Despite remaining with the team through part of the following season, he never played a down of football in Houston, as the 2020 preseason was canceled due to COVID-19. Now, McGough gets his first true shot at pro football, and will perhaps be back in the NFL later this year.
Davin Bellamy, DE, Georgia (Team: New Orleans Breakers)
Bellamy had two separate stints with the Texans, separated by a practice squad stop in Cincinnati. He spent the entire 2018 and 2020 seasons in Houston, but was never elevated to the active roster once. In 2021, he spent time with three different teams, and is now looking to revive his career in the USFL. The last time Bellamy played meaningful football, he proved to be a force on the field, recording 10 sacks in his final two seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs (listed as a linebacker).
Keith Mumphery, WR, Michigan State (Team: Tampa Bay Bandits)
Texans fans that followed the team in 2015 and 2016 may have a vague memory of Mumphery, as he returned punts and kicks over those two seasons. Originally a fifth-round pick from Michigan State, Mumphery saw very little action in the receiving game, catching 24 passes for 198 yards. Heading into 2017, Houston released him following allegations of sexual misconduct. Mumphery spent the next few years away from football as a result, but returned in 2020 to play for the XFL. He was a member of the BattleHawks alongside Jordan Ta’amu, and the two are now reunited in Tampa.
Honorable Mention: Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky (Team: New Orleans Breakers) - 2021 preseason in Houston, did not play in any games. Released with injury settlement.