USFL in Canton | 5 Pittsburgh Maulers to watch in 2023

Peter Holland Jr.
The Repository

CANTON — The Pittsburgh Maulers will enter the season with a clean slate. After finishing the inaugural season with one win, it was time for a change. That’s where Ray Horton comes in.

“What I want them to do is give them an opportunity and let them know that I wasn’t here last year,” said Horton, the team's first-year head coach. “Now you have a chance to impress me.”

The Maulers, who will play out of Canton this spring, open their season Sunday, April 16, in Birmingham against the New Orleans Breakers. They return to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium to play the New Jersey Generals on April 23.

Pittsburgh Maulers head coach Ray Horton watches his team practice Friday, March 24, 2023, in Canton.

It has been an open competition throughout camp while Horton and his staff identify their personnel. It starts at quarterback. The Maulers currently have three QBs battling for the starting job — James Morgan, Troy Williams and Connor Sampson. Horton didn’t give any hints on who has the edge, but he is convinced enough that all three are starter-caliber QBs. Horton also made it clear no job is secured yet for any position.

“I don’t think we have a starter yet,” Horton said. “I like what we are doing, and for us, that will probably be the decision we make on Friday or Saturday when we get down to Birmingham to play them.”

Troy Williams (left) is one of three Pittsburgh Maulers quarterbacks vying to be the team's starter for 2023.

There is high confidence on the defensive side for the Maulers. With Horton being a defensive-minded coach, the Maulers look to improve on allowing 22.2 points per game last year.

“It starts with practice. You can just see the intensity in practice. We are battling,” defensive lineman Boogie Roberts said. "We are treating every practice like a game, so when the game happens it’s natural to us, and there are no surprises. We are flying around out there."

Here's a look at some of the Maulers' top players:

Pittsburgh Maulers players to watch in 2023

Tre Walker

Wide receiver

San Jose State wide receiver Tre Walker celebrates after scoring a first-half touchdown against Boise State in the Mountain West championship game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Walker is one of the top returning players on offense for the Maulers. Last season, he led the team with 362 receiving yards. Whoever becomes the starting quarterback, expect Walker to be the go-to target. Walker also made plays on special teams, gaining 645 yards on kickoff returns.

Madre London

Running back

Pittsburgh Maulers running back Madre London (9) carries the ball against the Tampa Bay Bandits during the first half of a 2022 game.

London was the team's top rusher with 415 yards last season. London is built to be a complete back at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. With size and frame, London could be the primary ball carrier in 2023.

Reuben Foster


Alabama's Reuben Foster celebrates with fans after the College Football Playoff championship game against Clemson, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. Alabama won 45-40.

Foster was a big pickup for the Maulers defense as a former first-round NFL draft pick who was an Alabama All-American. Off-the-field issues and injuries have kept him from playing in an NFL game since 2018. When he joined the Maulers, it was the first time he set foot in Ohio. He is expected to be a centerpiece of Horton’s defense.

Boogie Roberts

Defensive line

Los Angeles Wildcats defensive tackle Boogie Roberts runs toward the play during an XFL game, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Houston.

Roberts is a coach's favorite, mostly because of the leadership he has brought to the Maulers. Roberts will be anchoring the defensive front, which has high expectations. Roberts, who made 10 tackles last year, has high hopes for this season: “Hard-nosed defense, explosive on offense. The fans are to expect a lot of points and a lot of hits and a lot of touchdown celebrations.”

Kyahva Tezino


San Diego State linebacker Kyahva Tezino (44), quarterback Ryan Agnew (9), tight end Parker Houston, second from left, and coach Rocky Long, left, celebrate with the trophy after beating Central Michigan in the New Mexico Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 in Albuquerque.

The 6-0, 235-pound linebacker brings a veteran presence and could play alongside Foster. Tezino made 56 total tackles last season.