In a season that hasn’t gone the Houston Gamblers’ way, they did have three defensive players get named to the All-USFL team on Thursday.
The league announced on Twitter Thursday that Donald Payne, Chris Odom, and Will Likely are on their All-USFL team list for defense as all three have been in the top five in most defensive statistical categories.
When it comes down to top pass rushers, not many in the USFL have been able to be on the same level as Chris Odom. He leads the USFL in sacks for the season with 11 in nine games. Odom also has 37 tackles and seven tackles for loss on the season.
Every game, fans have seen Odom applying pressure on the quarterback and making big plays. His run stopping has not been talked about much either as he finds a way to get in the backfield. There is one certainty after the season and is that Odom is going to get his shot of making an NFL roster because of the work he did in the USFL this season.
Donald Payne is another defender who is a stats leader in the USFL because he has a nose for the football. Payne leads the league in tackles with 108 in nine games this season. He is a linebacker who is in on every play no matter if it is a run or pass, he’s going to find the football. Having already played in the NFL, he might get a shot too to make a roster.
Will Likely is dynamic in multiple ways. Most experts saw him as more of a special teams threat because of the records he broke in college at Maryland. It turns out that he is more than just a kickoff and punt returner. He can create turnovers on defense.
He’s top five in the league in interceptions with four. Not to mention adding two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, eight pass deflections, and one defensive touchdown this season. Likely has proven to be a ballhawk and make big plays for the defense all season. He’s a playmaker who is also a difference-maker for a secondary that has been up and down this season.
Houston’s defense has been ranked low in yards allowed and points allowed, but everyone knows about the great individual talent this unit has. It comes down to these three players who have kept them afloat all season. Without the play of Odom, Payne, and Likely, very likely, it would have been an even more painful season for the Gamblers.