Birmingham Stallions Quarterback Alex McGough is 2023 USFL Most Valuable Player
Michigan Panthers Defensive Lineman Ethan Westbrooks is 2023 USFL Sportsman of the Year
Both represent “the best of the best” and epitomize the resilience of USFL players
CANTON, Ohio, June 30, 2023 – During media day leading into Saturday’s USFL Championship Game (8:00 PM ET on NBC and Peacock) and the culmination of a second successful season, the league announced its two top awards.
“In one of the most accomplished seasons in professional spring football history where he accounted for a modern USFL record 25 touchdowns in just 10 games, we’re proud to announce that Birmingham Stallions Quarterback Alex McGough is the 2023 USFL Most Valuable Player,” said Daryl Johnston, President of Football Operations.
After Johnston named McGough MVP, he then announced Michigan Panthers Defensive Lineman Ethan Westbrooks as 2023 USFL Sportsman of the Year.
The Sportsman of the Year Award is presented annually to honor one player who has best exhibited commitment to community service as well as excellence on the field. Each USFL team voted on one player to be its Sportsman of the Year nominee. As Johnston noted during the announcement, it was a tough choice between eight outstanding team nominees. Westbrooks ultimately stood out for his dedication to youth outreach in the Greater Detroit area during the Michigan Panthers 2023 season.
Westbrooks, 32, played collegiately at West Texas A&M and entered the 2023 USFL season without any direct ties to the state of Michigan. In fact Westbrooks, who hails from Oakland, California, quickly discovered that his native and now adopted city are similar hard-working communities. His outreach during the 2023 season focused on serving the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan and Detroit PAL, a ‘not for profit’ partnership with the Detroit Police Department and community volunteers that help youth find their greatness through sports and enrichment programs.
Using his NFL experience, Westbrooks provided seasoned veteran leadership for head coach Mike Nolan’s Michigan Panthers. Appearing in nine games in 2023, Westbrooks recorded 12 tackles (10 solo), three tackles for loss and one sack.
“One of the foundational components in the USFL is to become ingrained in the host communities where our players live and play during the season, and Sportsman of the Year celebrates that spirit as one of our top two most prestigious awards,” said Johnston. “We’re honored to name Michigan Panthers Defensive Lineman Ethan Westbrooks as 2023 USFL Sportsman of the Year. We couldn’t be prouder of our eight team nominees, and we are grateful to all our players who volunteered to serve in our USFL communities and demonstrated that championship spirit on and off the field.”
While there were many players worthy of being named Sportsman of the Year, McGough’s stellar play in the second half of the season essentially made the USFL MVP award a one-man race.
From the Stallions kick-off game to leading his team to the USFL Championship Game, McGough’s 2023 record-breaking season was the best in modern USFL history. Over the span of 10 regular-season games, McGough led the defending USFL Champions to a league-best 8-2 record and the top overall offense with 3,326 total yards and 287 points.
The 2022 top draft pick of Stallions head coach Skip Holtz, McGough began last season as the starter, but was hurt in the opening game. He essentially didn’t see the field again until the Championship Game in Canton when starter J’Mar Smith was injured. McGough came off the bench and led the Stallions to victory to claim the USFL title. In 2023, the roles reversed. Smith was the starter, but after being injured in the first game, McGough came off the bench and never returned.
The former FIU star completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 2,105 yards and set new modern USFL records with 20 touchdown throws and a QBR rating of 108.3. McGough’s passing coupled with his elusive scrambling ability, 70 rushes for 403 yards and five touchdowns, proved a difficult dynamic for opposing defenses. McGough accumulated 2,507 total yards while also accounting for 78.1% (25 of 32) of Birmingham’s offensive touchdowns.
While awards in the USFL only account for the regular season, McGough carried the momentum into the postseason. During last week’s playoffs, he scored five touchdowns against the New Orleans Breakers while leading the Stallions to 47 points, the most in one game in modern USFL history.
McGough becomes the first Stallion to win USFL Most Valuable Player and the first quarterback to be honored since 1984 when Jim Kelly of the Houston Gamblers won the award:
USFL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1983: RB Kelvin Bryant, Philadelphia Stars
1984: QB Jim Kelly, Houston Gamblers
1985: RB Herschel Walker, New Jersey Generals
2022: WR KaVontae Turpin, New Jersey Generals
2023: QB Alex McGough, Birmingham Stallions
Turpin, another dynamic USFL playmaker at both wide receiver and special teams returner, signed with the NFL Dallas Cowboys on his way to an All-Pro season.
Philadelphia Stars running back Matt Colburn II was the USFL’s first-ever Sportsman of the Year in 2022, as he led his team to the inaugural Championship Game. On Saturday, the USFL Championship Game (8:00 PM ET on NBC and Peacock) returns to Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium when McGough’s Stallions take on the Pittsburgh Maulers and the league’s top-rated defense.
“Alex McGough and Ethan Westbrooks represent the best of the best in the USFL,” said Johnston. “They epitomize our challenge to our players to be a pro in everything you do, on and off the field. They are great examples of the resilience to change and enhance their own football narratives while delivering on the USFL’s mission to honor this great game by winning on the field and in the communities where we live.”
## USFL ##
About the United States Football League (USFL):
Fast, physical, and fun, the USFL is a fan-first, stand-alone professional spring football league. Run by experienced football leaders, the USFL kicked-off April 15, 2023, becoming the first nationally televised spring league in 38 years to begin a second season. FOX Sports and NBC Sports are official media partners, presenting all 43 regular- and postseason games for the eight-team league that plays in Canton, Ohio, Birmingham, Ala., Memphis, Tenn, and Detroit. Former NFL Dallas Cowboys player and current FOX NFL analyst Daryl Johnston is President of Football Operations. Former NFL Vice President of Officiating and current FOX NFL analyst Mike Pereira is Head of Officiating. “United By Football,” USFL fans can find scheduling and ticketing information at theUSFL.com and follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.