With the XFL starting up once again in 2023 under new ownership, the league held its draft on November 15 — and former 3x national champion Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was selected to the league’s St. Louis franchise.
McCarron, who played in the NFL from 2014-2021 — having most recently backed up Matt Ryan on the Atlanta Falcons — will be competing with former Virginia Tech signal-caller Ryan Willis for the Battlehawks’ starting quarterback role.
Battlehawks head coach Anthony Becht, a former All-Rookie Team tight end at the NFL in his own right, was highly complimentary of McCarron’s background per XFL Newsroom. “A.J. brings us a championship pedigree,” said Becht. “He has seven years of NFL experience as a starting and backup quarterback. Unfortunately, A.J. battled through several injuries during that time which limited him from playing additional games. I feel like his time is now. A.J. will bring a very high football IQ, great leadership qualities, and invaluable experience to the St. Louis Battlehawks team.”
A.J. McCarron Not Expected to Start in XFL According to CBS
A.J. McCarron, who started for two Nick Saban national championship teams while in Tuscaloosa, doesn’t look like he’ll be reprising his starting quarterback role from his collegiate glory days in the XFL.
CBS Sports’ Emory Hunt believes McCarron is solely there for locker room purposes and his presence may indicate that the Battlehawks are still in the hunt for true competition for Ryan Willis — sharing as much in his XFL draft 2023 recap.
“Interesting that McCarron, at 32 years old, is giving the XFL a shot; or interesting that the XFL is giving McCarron a shot,” Hunt mused. “He’s a long-time NFL’er who has played some quality snaps in the NFL. To me, this seems like a stability type move for coach Anthony Becht, and one that says they are not done adding to the room in subsequent days.”
A.J. McCarron Was Aiming For NFL Comeback
A.J. McCarron was hoping he’d back in pro football, though he had his sights set higher than the XFL. Back on June 27 during an appearance on “Good Morning Football,” McCarron said that he was waiting on his call to return to the NFL after a knee injury during the 2021 preseason halted his career.
“I think I can always play,” McCarron said. “I’ve never questioned that. But I think if you ask anybody that’s been in the QB room with me, I’ve also been a fantastic teammate. Listen, whether it’s teaching a young guy or being there for an older guy, I love being a part of the room. I feel like I’m a good personality, great teammate and good energy to have around.”
In terms of continuing playing, the former Tide quarterback seemed unworried about his health holding him back. “I feel great,” McCarron said. “I was blessed to have a great team around me with Dr. (Lyle) Cain, our doctor at Alabama, and Kevin Wilk, who I did a bunch of my rehab with. I got cleared at four-and-a-half months out from surgery, so I’ve just been working on the strength and getting everything back normal, and I really feel great right now.”