South Dakota football players continue to live their dream in the XFL

Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 6:29 PM CST
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This past weekend, the XFL made its highly anticipated debut. Structured similarly to the NFL, the XFL is a football league comprised of recent collegiate athletes and former NFL players. Two of whom played their college ball right here in South Dakota.

In his time at SDSU, Kellen Soulek established himself as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

SDSU Head Football Coach John Stiegelmeier says Soulek was a great player for the Jacks, one that has the potential to play in the NFL.

"Kellen is one of those guys I'm very proud of," Stiegelmeier said. "He came in here and worked really hard, worked on his grades, did things right, was a quiet leader, and really I can't think of one guy who didn't love Kellen Soulek."

After bouncing around the NFL, a stint in the AAF, and overcoming injury, Soulek has found a home as a member of the St. Louis BattleHawks.

"I was excited, I was pumped to be able to get back out here again, especially after the torn hamstring," Soulek said. "I wasn't sure if not having the film or anything was going to hinder that goal of mine to get back and play again, but luckily St. Louis took a chance on me on draft day."

It's a similar story for Tyson Graham, who made a big impact on the field for the Coyotes. Graham now finds himself playing safety for the Seattle Dragon.

"Being in South Dakota was probably some of the best years of my life, because I was able to mature faster, go through a lot, and I learned a lot," Graham said.

Though their futures may be up in the air, both players are going to make the most of their time back on the field.

"Any shot to keep my dream alive, I have to take it right now," Soulek said.

Graham hopes that playing in the XFL will help him land a spot back on an NFL roster, but for now will focus on what's right in front of him.

"It feels great, just knowing everyday I get to wake up and get a chance to go out and play ball again each and every day. It's something that I love," Graham said. "I want to continue doing it as long as possible, so it's a great feeling just being able to go out there and have fun with it."

You can see Graham and the Dragons take on the Tampa Bay Vipers this Saturday. As for Soulek, The BattleHawks make their home field debut Sunday against the Houston Roughnecks.