Former Gopher standout Jonathan Celestin makes strong XFL debut with DC Defenders

With the dawn of the XFL, football season isn’t over yet. The dream of playing the game is also far from over for many of the players in the league, including former Minnesota standout Jonathan Celestin.

A familiar name to Gophers fans is now trying to make a name for himself in a new football league.

“We have plenty of guys who’ve been to the NFL, just maybe a step or two away from getting back to the NFL,” Celestin told FOX 9. 

Celestin starred as a linebacker at Minnesota and tried to translate that right into pro football. 

After spending time with 4 NFL teams, the XFL came calling with a new opportunity as Celestin caught on with the D.C. Defenders. 

“Leading up to the first game, it was kind of nerve wracking because it had been a while since I played a full game, but I was excited,” Celestin said. “After playing one game, I feel that it’s very similar to the NFL.”

The dream in this league is to be seen and Celestin accomplished just that in his XFL debut. The former Gopher scored the first ever touchdown in Defenders history by wrangling a blocked punt in the endzone.

“It was just amazing that I was able to score,” Celestin said. “I’m in history now for the D.C. Defenders.”

“[The play] was crazy and the environment was crazy, too,” Celestin added.

Crazy can also describe a life in football, but Celestin is taking this journey one game at a time, knowing that his time may come again to take a bigger step as a pro. 

“I’ve got more film of me going against somebody, so it could give me a chance to do the CFL, Arena football or the NFL,” Celestin said. “The end goal is to get back to the NFL, but sometimes you have to take different routes in life to get back to where you want.”