An NFL dream deferred can come true in no time for players in the USFL. That was proven to be true this week when 14 players ended up either on NFL rosters, practice squads or injured reserve.
Former Birmingham Stallions kicker Brandon Aubrey and former Philadelphia Stars defensive tackle LaBryan Ray, made 53-man rosters for the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
In addition to those two players, former Houston Gamblers receiver Isaiah Zuber is on injured reserve with the Las Vegas Raiders, and 11 players have been signed to practice squads. Those 11 are:
- Former Michigan Panthers DE Levi Bell to Seattle Seahawks
- Former Birmingham Stallions CB Lorenzo Burns to Cleveland Browns
- Former Michigan Panthers DB Josh Butler to Dallas Cowboys
- Former Michigan Panthers WR Kaden Davis to Arizona Cardinals
- Former Birmingham Stallions DT Khalil Davis to Houston Texans
- Former Birmingham Stallions DB Matt Hankins to Los Angeles Chargers
- Former Birmingham Stallions QB Alex McGough to Green Bay Packers
- Former Michigan Panthers WR D.J. Montgomery to Indianapolis Colts
- Former Houston Gamblers TE Josh Pederson to Jacksonville Jaguars
- Former Memphis Showboats DB Nehemiah Shelton to New York Jets
- Former Birmingham Stallions WR Austin Watkins to Cleveland Browns
Seven former USFL players from 2022 remain in the NFL, including active roster players KaVontae Turpin of the Dallas Cowboys (formerly of the New Jersey Generals), and Mitchell Fraboni of the Denver Broncos (formerly of the Pittsburgh Maulers). Turpin was USFL MVP in 2022.
“We’re proud that the USFL provides life-changing NFL opportunities,” USFL President of Football Operations Daryl Johnston said. “The 2022 USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin turned his opportunity into being All-Pro for the Dallas Cowboys … but KaVontae was only one of the 24 USFL players last season who were either on active NFL rosters or practice squads. We’re thrilled that 2023 USFL players like Brandon Aubrey, LaBryan Ray and many others are carrying on this legacy of success in the NFL.”
In addition to Aubrey and Ray, other players could land on practice squads in the coming days or on 53-man rosters as the season continues.
In just two seasons, the USFL has shown it can help players get to the NFL. The USFL has seen more than 320 players land workouts with NFL teams, with more than 100 NFL contracts signed.
“With now more than 100 NFL contracts signed by USFL players over our first two seasons, the USFL has shown itself to be a premium league with outstanding talent,” Johnston said.
Aubrey was scooped up by the Dallas Cowboys in July after helping the Stallion secure a second-straight USFL championship run. He was 14-for-15 on field goals on the way to earning All-USFL honors.
Aubrey has had an unconventional pathway into football. The former Notre Dame soccer player, who briefly played in the Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League, was drafted by the Stallions two years ago and found great success as the team’s placekicker.
According to the USFL, 31 of 32 NFL teams signed players directly from its teams into training camps, aided by a spring schedule that helps players get into mid-season shape as they enter August camps.
“These are more than just numbers, they are individual success stories,” Johnston said, “and they prove that the USFL works and is here to stay.”
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