LA Wildcats

Tre McBride, Los Angeles Wildcats rally to defeat Tampa Bay Vipers

CARSON — Tre McBride paused to change his phrasing. He was concerned with how it would come out, but he proceeded anyway. There was no way around it. He was just stating facts.

“At the risk of sounding overconfident, if you’re watching film, you can’t ignore the last two weeks that I’ve had,” said McBride, a wide receiver for the Los Angeles Wildcats. “So defenses are gonna have to adjust to that. That’s not me being cocky or anything. That’s just the fact of the matter.”

McBride certainly didn’t come off as cocky when speaking to a reporter earlier in the week. He’s cautious with his words, but there’s nothing wary about his game.

Entering Sunday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Vipers, there was no wide receiver better in the XFL the previous two weeks than McBride. Of course, McBride wouldn’t say that, but the numbers also don’t lie. McBride topped 100 receiving yards in his first two games, and recorded a crucial touchdown on Sunday in the Wildcats’ 41-34 comeback victory against the Vipers at Dignity Health Sports Park.

McBride missed the first two games of the season because of a hamstring injury, and had a late start in Los Angeles after the DC Defenders traded him to the Wildcats in January.

“The season started off a little bumpy for me personally with the trade and everything,” McBride said. “Looks like I might have found a home here in L.A.”

The Wildcats are familiar with impressive two-game stretches from wide receivers. Nelson Spruce led the XFL in receptions and receiving yards after Week 2, but he was watching on the Wildcats’ sidelines for the second consecutive game with a knee injury.

“We can’t wait to pair (McBride) up with Spruce, and see how that works out,” Wildcats coach Winston Moss said in a conference call Thursday.

Moss’ dream duo was on hold for the fourth game this season, but the Wildcats had plenty of playmakers Sunday to erase an 18-point deficit. Moss didn’t forget the “other guys” while speaking to reporters on his Thursday conference call.

Wide receivers Jordan Smallwood and Saeed Blacknall, and tight ends De’Quan Hampton and Brandon Barnes helped the Wildcats trim a 24-6 deficit to a four-point game before halftime.

“You put Spruce with McBride, and Smallwood, and we get (running back Martez) Carter healthy, Barnes … We have the pieces,” Moss said Thursday. “We gotta get them all together, so we can become an explosive offense.”

Quarterback Josh Johnson connected with McBride for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats their first lead at 27-24 with 1:48 in the third quarter Sunday. The Wildcats scored 27 unanswered points after Johnson found Blacknall for a 17-yard touchdown to give the announced crowd of 12,181 plenty to cheer about in the fourth quarter.

McBride recorded three catches for 35 yards and one touchdown against the Vipers. Johnson completed 20 of 36 passes for 288 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

McBride has been a dynamic playmaker for the Wildcats since Week 3. He’s a physical receiver who can play inside and track deep balls from the outside. He’s doing what many scouts expected him to do in the NFL after being drafted out of William & Mary.

“Something is going on here because Tre McBride is too talented and his combine was too good for him to fall all the way to the seventh (round),” one NFL Network analyst said after McBride was taken with the 245th pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2015 NFL draft.

McBride wasn’t able to put it together during his five seasons in the NFL. He spent his first two years with the Titans before bouncing around on practice squads with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars.

McBride comes from a military family. That’s why he avoids bragging about himself, and doesn’t make excuses for why it didn’t work in the NFL.

“Yeah, in the NFL it was really hard to find a home,” McBride said. “I thought I was playing well while I was there, but there were definitely opportunities I didn’t take advantage of in the NFL. So I’m not looking to place the blame on anyone besides myself as far as where I am in my career.

“I don’t think it’s over. I think that if I continue to play well the rest of this year whatever opportunities that are for me will come.”

McBride recorded five receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 3 win against the DC Defenders. He followed that with eight catches for 127 yards and one touchdown in the loss to the New York Guardians.

They way he’s been playing lately, McBride might get another call from the NFL, but the Georgia native isn’t looking ahead.

For now, he’ll focus on making plays for the Wildcats, and posting pictures to his Instagram account (@fuzzyslippers__). He’s an avid photographer who can play the trumpet, harmonica, and is currently learning the electric guitar. He’s also a “dog dad” to his pit bull, Chubbs.

McBride brings a lot to the Wildcats’ table. He’s finally found a home in Los Angeles.

“He’s definitely been a welcomed addition,” Moss said.