David Wells played college ball for the San Diego State Spartans. At 6’6″, 256, Wells certainly fits the mold that teams are going for now with tight ends being used as an in-line blocker. A reliable asset in the run game, during college, Wells helped block up front for the nation’s leading rusher Rashaad Penny. He played 4 years for the Spartans, recording his best year as a receiver in 2016 when he had 25 receptions for 294 yards and 4 TDs. Although he didn’t really have a career that statistically jumps out, Wells drew interest from a few teams following the 2018 draft. He’d sign as a priority free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, but not make the squad. David was quickly snapped up by the Kansas City Chiefs and placed on their practice squad.
Connor Cook was a 3 year starter for the Michigan State Spartans. He played college ball there from from 2011 to 2015, and saw action in 43 games, passing for 9,184 yards and 71 TDs to 22 interceptions. Cook was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Raiders saw value selecting him and decided to groom Cook behind incumbent quarterback Derek Carr.
He was pressed into his first starting duty- a grinder of a game against the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2016 Playoffs. The Raiders fell 27-14, as Cook threw for 161 yards and a TD to 3 interceptions. Connor saw no action in 2017 and was cut in 2018 after the Raiders traded for AJ McCarron.
Connor spent the next year on and off the rosters of the Panthers, Bengals and Lions. He was selected in the first round of the XFL 2020 Draft by the Houston Roughnecks. I sort of questioned the move considering the Roughnecks already had Philip Walker allocated to the team, but coach June Jones insisted that he was picking the best player available with NFL experience.
I pulled every card I had of Connor and added 2 or 3 more hoping to get Connor’s autograph during the season. Luck was on my side as the Roughnecks frequently put together fan events.
The Roughnecks put together an event in the Woodlands where they had Connor Cook and Sammie Coates at. It was a no brainer. I was going to call it a success if I could get 2 or 3 cards signed- but in the end I was able to get all 5 knocked out along with a stack of cards of Sammie as well.
The event itself went well. The players were friendly and approachable. Connor talked to me one on one for a few minutes. We talked about briefly about the AAF and how it failed before he had to go up on stage. There Connor really shined, with a quick wit and clever smile. Afterwards both he and Sammie signed more autographs for fans. I was able to get them both on posters before I headed back out.
Of this group, the Panini Contenders cards really stood out. I love the Gameday cards. I wasn’t really fond of either of the Leaf entries, but the Score Scorecard makes up for the Leaf cards trite design.
Well the quarterback competition between Cook and Walker apparently went down to the wire. In the end PJ was named starting quarterback of the Roughnecks. I really had hoped to see more of Connor, but PJ played lights out the entire way. Still I think Connor has the prospects of being one of the brighter stars in a spring league if he decides to try that route again.
I got a few more cards of his after being caught flat footed at the Roughnecks season ticket holder event, but the cards, ordered 2 weeks before the league shut down- didn’t arrive until after 2 months after the league shut down. Still that gave me a chance to add his Topps XFL 2020 card to the batch, which really pushed him up on my list of players I wanted to get an autograph from thru. I really liked how the Elite cards were designed in 2016 as well. The abstract design is actually really smart as the lines all cross artistic points of emphasis. It’s a beautiful card, but like many the distribution kills my interest in making this one a set to collect. I’m not very hot on the gaudy Prism set, but I liked the die cut helmet one enough as it is eye catching.
A 3rd round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2017, Carlos Henderson shot up the boards as a one year superstar for Louisiana Tech. He dominated Conference USA as the Offensive and Special Teams player of the year in 2016 and although NFL teams wished Carlos had stayed in college for his final year to get more polish on his game, they were more than willing to gamble a 3rd or 4th round pick on the young Bulldog.
Things just spun out of control for Carlos from there. After going AWOL, getting arrested, and getting a suspension for a banned substance, Carlos was cut and ended up being placed on the practice squad. The team felt that he had all the tools necessary to take his game to the next level but intimated that Carlos needed to grow and mature. He’d be cut before the 2018 NFL regular season and is currently a free agent.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.