An NFL dream deferred can come true in no time for players in the USFL. Two players proved that when they made it through final cuts on Tuesday as NFL teams finalized their 53-man rosters ahead of the 2023 season.
Those players, 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 Arizona Cardinals.
With the Cowboys, Aubrey joins fellow USFL alum KaVontae Turpin, who went from league MVP for the New Jersey Generals in 2022 to All-Pro kick returner in Dallas.
“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 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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