Former Pitt defensive end James Folston Jr. was drafted by the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL on Tuesday night. Folston was the first player to come off the board in the fourth round of the 2022 USFL draft, which follows a unique position-specific structure.
James Folston Jr. is New Orleans bound pic.twitter.com/BZ6uMNClJJ— New Orleans Breakers (@USFLBreakers) February 23, 2022
Folston was the only Pitt product selected on the first day of the draft, which saw teams choose quarterbacks in Rounds 1 and 12, defensive ends in Rounds 2-4, offensive tackles in Rounds 5-7, and cornerbacks in Rounds 8-11. With that said, the second day of the draft will see players at the remaining positions selected in Rounds 13-35.
Folston played at Pitt from 2014 to 2018, redshirting as a true freshman and working his way up the depth chart from a reserve role. His college career peaked in 2017, when he made four starts at Pitt. That year, Folston came up with 21 tackles, two tackles for losses, one sack and one blocked punt. All told, he played in 43 games over his four active seasons at Pitt, coming up with 47 tackles, 3.5 tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks and one blocked punt.
Since moving on from Pitt in 2019, Folston has had stints with the Arizona Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers, and the Tennessee Titans of the NFL; the Dallas Renegades of the XFL; and the Edmonton Football Team of the CFL. However, he has seldom seen the field at the professional level, as he was cut by all three NFL teams before the start of the 2019 season and did not post any stats in Edmonton. And in Dallas, he had one tackle and two QB hits.
As a member of the Breakers, Folston will play for former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, whose tenure in the ACC overlapped with Folston’s. Fedora came to Chapel Hill ahead of the 2012 season and was fired after the 2018 season. He generally treaded water there, going 45-43. But with that said, Fedora did manage to post an 11-3 record in 2015 and went a perfect 6-0 against Pitt.
The 6’4”, 250-pound defensive end will vie for playing time at his position with Georgia alum Davin Bellamy, Georgia Tech alum Anree Saint-Amour and Norfolk State alum Nigel Chavis. And given his draft position, Folston could face an uphill fight for playing time, as he has at previous points in his career.
The 2022 USFL season will get underway on April 16. However, the Breakers’ schedule has yet to be released, and the only game that is currently set is the season opener, which will feature the Birmingham Stallions and the New Jersey Generals facing off in Birmingham.