At 167 pounds, he is often the slightest player on the field, but 5-foot-8 Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (’14) keeps making big plays to justify his coaches’ decision to give the speedy rookie from Abilene Christian University a shot in the National Football League.
With four catches for 97 yards, Gabriel was the Browns’ top receiver Sunday in their 29-28 comeback win over the Tennessee Titans. He leads his team in yards per catch (19.1) and has 10 receptions for 194 yards. Cleveland is 2-2 early in the 2014 season and cut NFL veteran Nate Burleson in August to give Gabriel a roster spot after the former ACU star led the Browns in receptions in the preseason.
He ran a 4.27 time in the 40 during ACU’s Pro Day in March but went undrafted in April. He finished his career ranked second in ACU history in catches (215), yards (3,027) and touchdown receptions (27), and fourth in all-purpose yards (3,880).
Proplayerinsiders.com has an interesting feature today about Gabriel that includes a podcast.
Gabriel represents a new generation of Wildcats in the NFL. The elder statesman in that fraternity is Wilbert Montgomery (’77), the running backs coach for Cleveland. This is Montgomery’s 27th year as a player or coach in the NFL. Other former ACU standouts are nine-year veteran safety Danieal Manning (’07) of the Houston Texans and running back Charcandrick West (’14), a member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice roster.
In the Canadian Football League, Aston Whiteside (’12) has risen to a starting role as defensive end for the Toronto Argonauts after brief stays with Dallas, Chicago and Cincinnati of the NFL the last two years. Whiteside, who was on the Bears’ practice squad for most of 2012 and the Bengals’ in 2013, was named to every major all-America team after his senior season in 2011 for ACU. His teammate on the Argonauts is backup quarterback Mitchell Gale (’12), ACU’s career passing leader. Tony Washington (’10) is an offensive lineman for the Edmonton Eskimos after playing for Toronto in 2012-13 and the Calgary Roughriders in 2011.