Vicksburg native Chris Stamps coaching with XFL’s Orlando Guardians

Published 11:00 am Sunday, March 5, 2023

In its various incarnations, the XFL has earned a reputation for rowdy entertainment storylines, experimental rules, and lesser-known football players trying to make a name for themselves.

Chris Stamps sees something else in it — opportunity.

The Vicksburg native and former Warren Central football star is a part of the XFL this spring as a member of the Orlando Guardians’ coaching staff. For the 26-year-old, it’s a chance to soak up knowledge and get his foot in a different door as he makes his way through the coaching profession.

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“I consider it a unique opportunity. I’m developing as a young coach, and I’m taking advantage of it,” Stamps said. “All the football knowledge that I’ve been around for the past 12 months, I’ve been appreciative of it. I’m just going to continue to soak it up and try my best to learn, and be able to put myself in the position to take advantage of any opportunity in coaching that presents itself for me.”

Stamps’ journey to Orlando — and football in general — has taken him to a lot of places.

He played at Mississippi State, Northwest Mississippi Community College and then Middle Tennessee State. After finishing his college career he went into coaching and had stops at East Central and Mississippi Delta community colleges, as well as the University of Buffalo.

He made connections all along the way, including one that led him to the XFL. His position coach at Mississippi State, Terrell Buckley, has worked in the college ranks for 15 years and is now the head coach of the XFL’s Guardians.

“It was something that (Buckley) knew, even when I was a young player, that eventually I wanted to begin coaching,” Stamps said. “After having a couple of years of experience working at the University of Buffalo, the opportunity came. That was how the doors opened up. I was blessed enough to be in this position to be hired on the staff and contribute.”

Stamps is a quality control coach for the Guardians. It’s not the most glamorous position on the staff, but it’s one that’s important to the team’s success.

In his role, Stamps performs what he calls “a variety of jobs” that could range from helping assemble the week’s playbook one day to running the scout team the next — basically, the behind the scenes grunt work that helps an organization run smoothly.

“I handle a ton of jobs with the goal of making the coaches’ jobs easier,” Stamps said.

Stamps added that his job is exposing him to the inner workings of a professional football team. Helping to assemble game plans and understanding how even minor decisions during the week can affect outcomes on the weekend is a learning experience he treasures.

“It is good to be around it, because I get to see week in and week out what it’s like to game plan. Being in this position, I get to work with the defensive line coach, the linebackers coach, the secondary coach. We’re all coming together to form a game plan, and I’m a part of it and I get to see it,” Stamps said. “As I continue to rise in the business, I pride myself on being the kind of guy that I would want to work for me.”

The 2023 XFL season is the third in the league’s history, over a span of 22 years.

The first version was launched in 2001 as the rowdy sports entertainment vision of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, and only lasted one season. A reboot in 2020 was crafted as a more serious spring football league, and was off to a promising start when the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to an abrupt end after only five weeks.

In August 2020 the XFL brand was purchased by movie star Dwayne Johnson, his ex-wife and business partner Dany Garcia, and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners investment group. Their plan was to relaunch the XFL as a spring supplement to the NFL, with a fan-first approach and experimental rules that set it apart from the bigger league.

XFL 3.0 launched in February, as a 10-team league with games airing on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, FX and ESPN+. Week 3 of the season begins Saturday. Orlando will play at the Arlington Renegades Sunday at 3 p.m. on FX and ESPN+.

Another Vicksburg native, Norman Price, is in the league as an offensive lineman for the San Antonio Brahmas. They play at Houston Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Stamps is hoping the efforts of he and all of the XFL’s coaches, players and staff lays the foundation for a league that can last for decades.

“There’s a lot of publicity going on with the league, a ton of commercials … just being part of that experience is fun. At the end of the day, you want to work as hard as you can to put a good product out there on the field. That’s what we’re working to do,” Stamps said. “It’s an incredible experience to be a part of. With the Orlando Guardians we’re working as hard as we can to build this league up and contribute to the success of this league and provide longevity.”

Sunday, March 5
Noon FX — St. Louis at D.C.
3 p.m. FX — Orlando at Arlington
7 p.m. ESPN2 — San Antonio at Houston

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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