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Heel Tough Blog: Three Former Tar Heels Set to Take the Field in XFL’s Second Revival

Believe or not, the XFL returns for its third iteration this weekend as the league attempts to find some stability under new co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. While many of you may be laughing at the idea of watching this on Saturday and Sunday, three former Tar Heels will be in action as they continue their football career. Here is everything you need to know about those three guys heading into the league’s opening week.

Jeremiah Gemmel LB/Orlando Guardians

Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

First Game: Saturday @Houston Roughnecks at 8:30 PM on FX

Gemmel was not selected in the initial defensive front portion of the draft, but he was the first pick in the open phase by the Guardians back in November. This will be a good chance for him to show NFL teams what he can bring to the table after he failed to make a roster last summer after spending time with both the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. Gemmel, who racked up 236 total tackles in his time in Chapel Hill, will have some work to do after being listed as a third-stringer on this week’s depth chart. With how weak the linebacker room is in front of him, climbing into the rotation shouldn’t be that difficult if he can settle into a groove.

Austin Proehl WR/St. Louis BattleHawks

Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

First Game: Sunday @San Antonio Brahmas at 3:00 PM on ABC

Proehl was selected in the 11th round of the offensive skill position phase of the draft as he embarks on his second stint in the XFL. Back in 2020 with the Seattle Dragons, he caught 16 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns, including the first touchdown of the league’s revival. Since that time, he has made another push to make it to the NFL, but he has continued to just be a camp body for teams during the preseason. He enters the game as the backup in the slot to Darrius Shepherd but should get some rotational reps in the slot, especially if Shepherd was to struggle early on.


K.J. Sails CB/DC Defenders

Rob Kinnan- USA Today Sports

First Game: Sunday vs. Seattle Sea Dragons at 8:00 PM on ESPN

Sails, a former Tar Heel who played his final two seasons at South Florida, was the final pick of the open phase of the draft for the Defenders. Sunday will be his first game action in nearly a year and a half after he was cut from the Los Angeles Chargers at the conclusion of the 2021 preseason. The Calgary Stampeders of the CFL signed him back in December of 2021, but he was waived a couple of weeks prior to the start of the preseason. It’s unclear as to how much he will play, though, with him listed as a third-string corner on the initial depth chart that was released this week.


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