Ray Bolden, a former wide receiver on the Stony Brook football team, was selected in the 16th round of the United States Football League (USFL) Draft by the Michigan Panthers on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
The USFL is set to begin its first season of play this year with eight teams and a planned 10-game schedule over 12 weeks. The original iteration of the USFL operated from 1983 to 1986, although there is no legal connection between that league and the current one.
The draft differs from the NFL’s in that rounds are dedicated to specific positions. Wide receivers were selected from rounds 13 to 17. Bolden was the 27th wide receiver drafted overall and the fourth taken by Michigan, joined by Quincy Adeboyejo (Ole Miss), Lance Lenoir (Western Illinois) and Jeff Badet (Oklahoma).
The Michigan Panthers’ quarterbacks are Shea Patterson, the draft’s first overall pick and a two-year starter at the University of Michigan, and Paxton Lynch, a first-round 2016 NFL Draft pick who started four career games for the Denver Broncos.
The USFL is the latest in a recent string of alternative football leagues. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) played for eight weeks in 2019 before going bankrupt midway through the season, whereas the Vince McMahon-founded XFL played five weeks in 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of all activities and led to its eventual bankruptcy.
Bolden, a native of Euless, Texas, played for Stony Brook from 2015 to 2017 and was the team’s leading receiver in all three years. He was named First-Team All-CAA in his senior season and graduated with 171 receptions, the most in the Seawolves’ Division I history and 2,081 receiving yards, third-most.
He went undrafted in 2018 and received an invitation to the Philadelphia Eagles’ rookie minicamp tryouts. When the XFL launched in 2020, Bolden earned a roster spot on the Houston Roughnecks, but a preseason injury left him unable to play in any of the season’s five games.
The USFL’s season will begin on April 16 and end with a championship game on July 3.