All these years later, Gulf Shores Hall of Fame quarterback Brandon Silvers still looks back on a ping pong table at his uncle’s house in Foley as the place where the first sparks of his …
All these years later, Gulf Shores Hall of Fame quarterback Brandon Silvers still looks back on a ping pong table at his uncle’s house in Foley as the place where the first sparks of his burning hatred toward losing were ignited.
Now quarterbacking the Houston Roughnecks to first place in the XFL’s South Division entering Monday’s battle against the North-leading D.C. Defenders, the Orange Beach kid seemed only destined for a hall of fame of his own after learning from legendary athletes at family functions.
Silvers’ grandfather (Raymond Christensen), aunt (Metta Christensen) and uncle (Carey Christensen) are all members of Foley High School’s Hall of Fame and helped establish his competitive fire.
“It was just always competitive. And it still is to this day,” Silvers said in a March 22 interview. “We used to go round after round playing ping pong in (my uncle’s) media room in Foley when they were living down there and now they live in Houston. But it was just always about competitiveness and hating to lose. Going up against them when I was younger, it definitely drove me.”
An Orange Beach kid, but a Gulf Shores Hall of Famer
While he displayed that drive as a Gulf Shores Dolphin where he graduated in 2012 as the No. 27 quarterback recruit in the nation according to ESPN, Silvers’ hometown is indeed Orange Beach where his parents still live and his father Jeff serves on the city council. Had there been schools in his city at the time, Silvers would have been a Mako which he said might be a controversial take.
“Yeah, it might be a little bit because I mean, I do claim Orange Beach,” Silvers said. “Now I’m kind of waiting to see what happens with the Orange Beach City Schools and Gulf Shores City Schools, they're going to be going back and forth to see who gets the better stuff. … They're just going to compete with each other so it's going to be good for both schools.”
In addition to his enshrinement in the Gulf Shores Hall of Fame, the Dolphins’ current offensive coordinator, Kenny Edenfield, held the same position at Troy when Silvers was the Trojans’ four-year starter. Now with Gulf Shores’ coaching staff loaded with other former college coaches including head coach Mark Hudspeth, Silvers sees a positive trend in the Dolphins’ program.
“They really run it like an actual Division I university so it's good for those kids, if you think about the last 20 or so years in Gulf Shores, there's really only maybe a couple of good teams,” Silvers said. “But now, you're starting to see a bunch of new stuff, a lot more wins, breaking records and stuff like that so it's good to see.”
Roughnecks start hot with explosive offense
Silvers and the Roughnecks have won plenty of their own after they started the regular season with a 4-0 record in now the third version of the professional spring football league currently run by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia.
Entering Houston’s Week 6 battle against the undefeated Defenders Monday night on ESPN, Silvers was tied for first in the league in passing touchdowns (11) with Mobile native and St. Paul’s Episcopal alum AJ McCarron. Silvers was also second in the league in passing yards (1,189), just ahead of McCarron (1,086), with a Baldwin-Mobile quarterback duel set for April 2 when the St. Louis Battlehawks face the Roughnecks in Texas.
Silvers expected a large crowd of familiar faces on hand for that game but has been able to see family at each game this season.
“My mom comes to every game, my dad has come to all the home games and then I have my uncle's family,” Silvers said. “A lot of people are coming out to games and especially when we play AJ on April 2nd, a lot of people are coming to that game. … I asked them, ‘Are you coming to watch me or are you coming to watch AJ?’ because they're a bunch of Alabama fans.”
Although Silvers confirmed his friends were going to cheer on the home team in Houston, he chalked it up to convenient timing.
Silvers, Spanish Fort alum Barry set for Baldwin County reunion Monday
Monday night will bring another familiar face in D.C. tight end Trae Barry, a Spanish Fort alum who played collegiately at Jacksonville State and Boston College. Silvers said he did attempt to get the Roughnecks to pick up the former Toro but their air-raid style offense didn’t allow for much depth at Barry’s position.
“I throw with Trae, we're family friends. My brother's good friends with him, too. I texted him yesterday because he was actually back home,” Silvers said Wednesday. “I was excited for him to get a shot. I couldn't really do much for our team because we don't really carry a tight end. I tried to get him on our team, but we only carry like one tight end so I couldn't really do much for him there.”
Coaching tree roots overlapping, leading to top ranks
Silvers likely did have some pull on the offensive side having worked with offensive coordinator AJ Smith in one of his previous professional spring league stops.
The Alliance of American Football went bankrupt eight weeks into its 10-week inaugural season in 2019 before Silvers was named the quarterback of the Seattle Dragons in XFL 2.0 which was canceled after only four games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, he started all six games for the Conquerors in The Spring League, a former showcase that has now turned into another spring football league, the USFL. But it was at The Spring League when Smith’s Run N’ Shoot background collided with Silvers’ air-raid experience and the rest was history.
Now back together in XFL 3.0, Silvers led the league in pass completions over 40 yards (6) and was tied for first in completions over 20 yards (14) with McCarron and Seattle’s Ben DiNucci through five weeks of play.
“A lot of my decisions come down to just being with him and skipping out on the USFL, CFL (Canadian Football League) and working every summer so I really just get with him and talk to him about offense,” Silvers said.
Quarterback reunites with former coach, wins Blue Map
While he’s not yet nearing the end of his playing days, Silvers got a taste of what could be a post-playing option when he helped out coaching quarterbacks on his former head coach’s staff at Thompson High School in 2021. He said Freeman had been trying to get him on staff previously and with some downtime in between seasons, Silvers went for it.
“He's always been wanting me to help him out. I enjoyed it, it was fun; obviously, we won a state title so that's always fun,” Silvers said. “I can definitely see (myself coaching after playing). I wouldn't say that it's 100% but I think I could do it just depending upon the situation.”