The St. Louis BattleHawks selected quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Ryan Willis at the XFL Draft in Las Vegas on Tuesday, giving head coach Anthony Becht two NFL veterans with Power-5 NCAA pedigrees to lead the offensive attack.

“Both of these guys bring a lot of unique qualities – leadership, No. 1”, Becht said from the stage in Las Vegas.

Aug 21, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback AJ McCarron (5) drop back to attempts a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


“Ryan is a big guy, big arm, super athletic, can make all the throws. A.J. brings a lot of NFL experience to us – he’s a guy that quite frankly can win at the line of scrimmage. I think for us, going against some of these defensive-minded head coaches…I think that’s a key part of our success this season.”

McCarron led Alabama to consecutive BCS National Championships before Cincinnati drafted him in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The 6’3, 220-pounder started three games in his second season in 2015, including the Bengals’ AFC Wild Card round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. McCarron, 32, made additional NFL stops in Buffalo, Oakland, Houston and Atlanta.

Willis took Bishop Miege High School to the Kansas Class 4A state title in 2014 then played two seasons for the Kansas Jayhawks before transferring to Virginia Tech. Willis threw for 33 touchdowns and rushed for five more over 18 games for the Hokies, sharing the QB room with current Heisman hopeful Hendon Hooker. Willis, 26, was released from the Chicago Bears’ practice squad earlier this year.

Becht and his staff will build the rest of the BattleHawks roster over the next two days in Las Vegas.


Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll is a freelance sports writer living in the Ozarks with his wife and four great kids. He loves St. Louis, toasted ravioli and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505