Even in a rebuilding year, the Dallas Trojans are among the top developmental organizations in Texas
With 23 wins over the past two seasons, a Texas United Football League Championship and a USA Bowl National Championship to cap off the 2015 season, the Dallas Trojans are still easily among the top developmental programs in the state of Texas.
Not only have they been highly successful on the field, the Trojans have also walked out their vision to help players get next-level opportunities – something that most teams sell, but only few see results with.
“Defensive end Jason Thompson got a tryout with the Green Bay Packers,” Trojans owner Jeff Ewing told Developmental Football USA. “We had a kid named Kordarian Mathis. We got him a tryout with the Arena Football League and we also had a guy get signed with the San Angelo Bandits, James McGue.”
Outdoor developmental football teams present a unique opportunity for players, in that some already have prior football careers and are able to move forward professionally, while others still have college eligibility and are able to get scholarships.
Not only has the Trojans organization served a platform to catapult players professionally, they’ve also helped young players showcase their skills and receive opportunities to further their education while continuing to play the game that they love.
“We had two guys last year get a scholarship to Texas Wesleyan – Anthony Kaston and Demarcus Nixon,” Ewing said. “We’ve helped four or five guys play somewhere else and we’ve had guys that have tried out for the Dallas Marshals and the Texas Revolution. We’ve gotten a lot tryouts, but only a few have made it.”
These results didn’t magically happen for the Trojans. Ewing is not only a certified scout and an agent advisor to NFL Scout Len Lashbrook, he also invests into his team by having every game professionally filmed.
“What I’m trying to do is get guys noticed to move up to the next level,” Ewing said. “We don’t refer a lot of guys to (Lashbrook), but everyone once in awhile we do. When guys look at film, it’s hard to look at it when it’s moving. Professional film helps guys have a lot better chance.
“The guy that got the NFL camp, he got some film from us and got into a camp. He’d been out of college a couple of years, but he had good college film. All they’re looking for out of semipro film is that you’re still fast and you can still move like you did two years ago. They can still see the same caliber of player in recent film.”
At the end of the day, every opportunity both professionally and collegiately comes down to the individual player, his talent and his measurables.
“I have some 19 and 20-year old kids that want to try out for the Green Bay Packers and I have to tell them, ‘You don’t go from the Trojans to the Packers,’” Ewing said. “If you want to play in the NFL, you need to go play D1 football or D2 football and start, and be good.”
Next level opportunities are just a bi-product of running a successful developmental organization, which in itself is fun to be a part of when everything is running correctly.
“It’s a longshot at this level,” Ewing said. “Ninety-eight percent of NFL players are coming from D1 colleges. To get paid to play, even the guys that get paid $200 a game in arena leagues, a lot of them are D1 guys. Everyone wants to get paid to play football, but there are probably 100 guys for every one spot. It’s tough, but it can happen. Ideally we try to help the 19 and 20-year olds get into college. They’re still young enough to do something.”
So the Trojans have had a very successful five-year history on the field, however, the 2017 season looks to be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Trojans.
“This year’s team is a young team, it’s the youngest team I’ve ever had,” Trojans owner Jeff Ewing told Developmental Football USA. “The average age of our players is probably 24. They’re a lot more coachable and we’re basically a new team this year.”
Last year, the Trojans were knocked out of the Minor Professional Football League playoffs by the Texas Bullets, who went on to win both the league and the USA Bowl National Championship.
“We had a lot of guys retire after last year’s season and we had a lot of guys that went to other teams, chasing a ring somewhere else,” Ewing said. “They’re ring chasers.”
Based on their track record and what the organization has to offer, don’t expect them to stay down for very long.
“My expectation is to be in the playoffs,” Ewing said. “We’re rebuilding, so I don’t think we’re going to be as good. We could be, you never know in semipro, but I don’t anticipate us being undefeated like we have been in the past. I think we can be a solid playoff team though, it took a lot of work to get to the level we were at.”
The Trojans have plenty of talent to be a playoff team offensively and they’re looking for quarterback Xavier Young to lead the charge.
“He’s a run-pass option,” Ewing said. “He can run out of the pocket, he can run the option, he can throw on the run well. He can run as well as he can throw.”
Look for sure-handed slot receiver Anthony “Junior” Ware to be the recipient of many of Young’s passes.
“He’s a small, quick, guy with good hands,” Ewing said. “He doesn’t drop hardly any passes and he’s always going to make that first guy mix.”
A good passing attack will need to be complemented with a solid running game, and the Trojans are certainly not lacking in that department thanks to former Arkansas Razorback Jatashun “Big Tex” Beachum.
Beachum was a defensive tackle in college, but was recruited as an athlete out of high school. Rated 86 overall and three stars by 247Sports as a recruit, Beachum also had offers from Florida State, Michigan, Florida, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Baylor and many more, and he will be running the rock for the Trojans.
“He’s big and fast, he’s a little overweight right now,” Ewing said. “He’s about 260 pounds, but when he gets down to about 235 or 240, he’s going to be dangerous. He’s one of the fastest guys on the team right now. He’s a D1 guy. He’s only going to need a little bit of blocking and he’s going to be alright.”
Ewing and veteran defensive coordinator Zach Durham will be looking for big things out of a player from each position group that all have their unique stories. Let’s start with linebacker Eric Rivera.
“He can also play safety,” Ewing said. “He’s willing to play whatever you want him to play. He’s an Army veteran and he’s used this just to get his body back in shape. He’s a personal trainer and he’s got an interesting story.
“He was shot in Iraq and he played a little college basketball, but hadn’t played football in a long time and he thought it would be something to get him back in shape and motivate his clients. He plays offensive line and whatever else we need him to do. He’s an inspiration to the team and he’s been here since September.”
John Iberra, who can play both linebacker and defensive end, is expected to have a big season and he could be the next Trojan in line to get a next-level opportunity.
“He’s one of our young guys,” Ewing said. “He graduated like two years ago. He had a scholarship and got hurt his senior year. He’s got a lot of talent. I don’t know how they missed him or why they didn’t still sign him. He’s 6-foot-2, 245 pounds and pretty fast, probably a 4.8 guy. He’s at least a D2 talent, easy, maybe D1 talent if he gets a little faster.”
Last but not least, Ewing and the Trojans are expecting veteran cornerback Xavier Motten to hold things down in the defensive backfield and continue to lead that position group.
“He’s one of the veterans from the good teams I’ve had the last couple of years,” Ewing said. “He’s not big, but he’s a crafty veteran. He’s not the fastest guy in the 40, he’s not the biggest guy, but he knows how to play. He very seldom gets beat, he’s good at reading what the receiver wants to do.”
Right now, the Trojans’ focus is to develop their young team and make it back to the playoffs, but they know what and who all awaits them once they reach that goal, to contend beyond that.
“I would say the North Texas Mustangs, they won it last year,” Ewing said. “I’ve heard they’re pretty good. Anytime you win a championship, you’re probably not going to get any worse. And I think the DeSoto Tarantulas, we played them a lot in the past in the pre-season and they’re always tough. I’ve heard they’ve gotten a lot of new talent. They’ll tell you they’re going to walk away with it easily, but we’ll see. They’ve always been pretty good.”
In addition to providing players an opportunity to play the game they love and helping some of them achieve their next-level football goals, the Trojans are also very active in the local community.
“We’ve done some back-to-school camps in Southeast Dallas,” Ewing said. “We’ve done back-to-school football camps in the past and we’ve done some where we give kids school supplies and stuff. We did that at the Salvation Army in Pleasant Grove.”
The Trojans are still looking to add more offensive and defensive linemen for this season. For more information, contact Jeff Ewing or Tim Gray, or reach out to us at DFUSA and we can put you in touch.