According to Skip Holtz, USFL free agency has already begun. With that being said I wanted to start taking a look at some of the players that could be called up to the USFL for the 2023 season. One of my personal favorites, is running back Tim Whitfield of the Green Bay Blizzard.
Overlooked, but not Written Off
Coming out of college, Whitfield did not receive NFL interest. Following an invitation to work out At a pro day styled event, Whitfield received a contract offer from the Indoor Football League’s Quad City Steamwheelers. This was in late 2019, just before the COVID pandemic changed the world forever.
With no other choice, the indoor football league was forced to shut down for the 2020 season. This actually led Tim to another destination in 2021. That team was the west Texas warbirds. Based in Odessa Texas, the Warbirds featured a roster that has had players cross into the IFL, and even some in the CFL.
Back to the IFL
Following an impressive season with the Warbirds in 2021, Whitfield found himself receiving IFL consideration once again. For the 2022 IFL season he ultimately decided to sign with the Green Bay Blizzard. Given the way the indoor game works, the run game was never really featured in Green Bay while Whitfield spent time there.
To top things off, Green Bay ran a running back by committee system, in which many players received carries. Despite this fact, playing in only six games, Whitfield was able to produce the second most rushing yards on the team. He also displayed a dual threat ability with 21 receptions.
Looking to get Back Outdoors
Following a solid showing despite limited playing time, Whitfield looks to the outdoor game for his next opportunity. Although he states a willingness, to return to the IFL, or play arena ball in another league such as the FCF, as with most players, Whitfield would like to play in the NFL at some point.
While I will stop short of saying he is NFL ready at this particular moment, I do believe that he was one of the best free agents available to the USFL during the 2022 season. He also carries that title into the 2023 off-season.
There aren’t too many running backs that start their career as a runner at 260 pounds. But Whitfield can say just that, however at this point he has dropped nearly 40 pounds, in the process dramatically improving his quickness and lateral agility, two knocks on him coming out of college.
It’s no secret, to make it in leagues like the USFL you have to be willing to do anything to make it on a roster. Special teams is a near requirement. The age old adage of the more you can do applies here.
Standing 5 foot 11 223 pounds, having played linebacker at times in his background, Tim Whitfield is no stranger to playing special teams. As you saw in the highlight video above, he actually had a kick return for a touchdown on a squib kick in the IFL in 2022.
He also, is not afraid of running down on kicks and punts to make a tackle. His ability as a blocker whether playing special teams or in the passing game is a definite strength of his game. Having shed the 40 pounds he once carried, he never shed the mentality of running over defenders.
Dual Threat Who Compares to Jerome Bettis as a Runner
During our interview, Whitfield mentions when he first started running the ball it was more of a Jerome Bettis style of running. While he would mix in the occasional spin move or juke move, he was more known for lowering his shoulder and running through a defender. The thing about this comparison, is Jerome Bettis was never really known as much of a receiver.
However this is certainly not a skill that is lacking in Tim Whitfield‘s game. As mentioned before, Whitfield actually had 21 receptions in only six games this season. Averaging just over three receptions per game. If you do the very simple math, he would have ended up with 56 receptions, and 453 yards despite playing on a shortened arena football field.
Give this man room to work like the outdoor game provides and we could see a Le’Veon Bell style performance from Whitfield. If not for being overlooked out of high school, Whitfield likely would already be in the NFL. His current NFL comparison being Javonte Williams of the Denver Broncos. If you’re looking for a USFL comparison it’s second leading rusher Trey Williams with the New Jersey Generals. Both back run with power, but add value as a receivers, more importantly both backs found tremendous success in 2022.
Overall, Tim Whitfield is exactly the type of running back that USFL team should be looking at. Given what your offense wants to do he could play multiple different roles. While, he would prefer to stay at running back, he could potentially bulk up again and play full back for USFL team as well.
At the end of the day he simply is a team player looking for an opportunity to showcase himself against high-level talent. I believe the USFL is his best opportunity to do so. When looking across the league there are a few teams that I believe can add him to the roster and benefit from it immediately.
Teams that come to mind are the Tampa Bay Bandits, Pittsburgh Maulers, Houston Gamblers, and perhaps make for a deadly one two punch in Michigan with Reggie Corbin. Whether it’s the USFL, XFL, or the CFL which has shown interest in the IFL and even former teammates of Whitfield, he will be playing outdoors soon.
Stay with USFL News Hub all off season.