While the remaining 37 players were released and/or waived, one would expect to see at least several of them end up on practice squads, or potentially claimed off of waivers. There were plenty of athletes (i.e. Austin Watkins, Frank Ginda, Josh Butler) who proved their worth during the preseason.
K Brandon Aubrey
First up, Brandon Aubrey has officially made the Dallas Cowboys 53 man roster, which isn’t too much of a surprise. He won the kicking battle in training camp against Tristan Vizcaino, and performed quite well during preseason.
Aubrey has a unique and amazing story, which begins before the USFL. He was a standout soccer player at Notre Dame, and played for a couple of professional teams before deciding to give football a try.
Brandon landed with the Birmingham Stallions in 2022, taking advantage of the opportunity to play professional football in the USFL. He was sensational, winning two Championships with the team. In 2022, he earned All-USFL honors. 2023 was no different, as Aubrey was one of the top kickers in the league.
After being signed to the Dallas Cowboys, Brandon continued to make improvements throughout training camp. Once he won the gig against Vizcaino, he began to perform at an even higher level.
WATCH: Brandon Aubrey makes his first official field goal kick (29yds) in NFL preseason.
The former soccer-turned-football player has been one of the #USFL's best kickers through two seasons. Taking full advantage of the opportunity with Dallas so far. pic.twitter.com/OVsvqDzeWe
During week three of the preseason, Aubrey showcased his strong leg. After missing from 59 yards out, he was given another opportunity from the same distance, and crushed it. He also went 4/4 on XP’s during the outing.
Now, Aubrey will have the privilege of playing in the NFL – even though he never saw a snap in high school or college. Had it not been for the platform the USFL provided him with, this achievement likely would have never been possible.
LaBryan Ray is a USFL name that many may not be familiar with. He joined the Philadelphia Stars during the season, in an effort to bolster the defensive line.
Ray made a quick impact, starting in five of the seven games he played in. His NFL experience showed in the USFL, finishing the season with 10 tackles and three sacks.
Once the season was over, Ray garnered interest from multiple NFL organizations. He ended up signing with the Carolina Panthers, and the rest is history. He impressed in the preseason, making multiple plays early on that caught the attention of fans across the country. LaBryan posted four tackles, two TFL, and a sack in three games.
WATCH: DT LaBryan Ray with a big-time sack to wrap up the first half of action.
Now, he’ll look to continue his professional career with the Carolina Panthers, having officially made the 53 man roster ahead of the 23-24 season.
It’s encouraging to see the USFL continue to prove that it is a legitimate platform – and pathway – back to the NFL.
Whether it’s a player like Ray who had prior NFL experience – or, an athlete like Aubrey who just needed a chance to play football – the USFL provided hundreds of players with the opportunity to showcase their talents to the entire nation.
Spring football is extremely valuable, and it’s here to stay with the USFL approaching season three.
What are your thoughts on Brandon Aubrey and LaBryan Ray making their respective 53 man rosters? Which USFL players deserve a shot in the NFL? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!