HBCU to Pro

HBCU products shine in XFL debut

Jah-Maine Martin and Reggie Barlow set the tone week 1.

HBCU products took the field, and sidelines, in the 2023 XFL season opener. Here are two standout performances.


The HBCU product from North Carolina A&T rushed for 41 yards on nine carries in his XFL debut with the Orlando Guardians.

Many see Martin becoming the long term starter for the Orlando Guardians going forward.

“Most other teams are carrying three, four, or five running backs. Both Martin and Darrington are intriguing, even though Martin is expected to be the starter,” Pro Football Network analyst Ben Rolfe stated.

Martin had a stellar 2019 season with the NC A&T where he rushed for 1,446 yards and 23 total touchdowns. He earned a mini camp invite with Indianapolis Colts of the NFL after going un-drafted in 2022.


Reggie Barlow is now the head coach of the DC Defenders after spending several seasons coaching at HBCU programs including Virginia State University and Alabama State. Barlow became the head coach at Virginia State in 2016 after beginning his coaching career at his alma mater Alabama State. The Trojans held a 34-15 record under Barlow and won the CIAA championship in 2017 after going undefeated for the first time in history.

The Defenders earned a 22-18 win over the Seattle Seadragons in Barlow’s debut as an XFL head coach.

VSU coach Reggie Barlow. (Photo by Michael Peele.)
HBCU products shine in XFL debut
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