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Former Wildcats pursue pro football careers

Taylor Gabriel has made a big impression with the Browns.
Taylor Gabriel has made a big impression with the Browns.
It’s always crunch time, so to speak, in National Football League training camps.
But with the 2015 regular season just three weeks away and only two preseason games remaining, many of the men toiling in the late August heat are playing not only for a job but perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Four former Wildcats are on NFL player rosters as of today:

Gates – who is in his fourth NFL season – was signed by the Cowboys on Aug. 20 and made a brief appearance in last week’s game with the San Francisco 49ers. Richardson is in his third season, having played the first first two with the St. Louis Rams.
Second-year players Gabriel and West are drawing rave reviews from their teams for their speed and work ethic. Gabriel caught 37 passes for 629 yards and one TD for the Browns last season, when he and West were undrafted rookie free agents.
Other former Wildcats among NFL newsmakers:

  • Lance Barrow (’77), an ACU trustee and former Wildcat football player, is longtime executive producer for CBS golf and the network’s coordinating producer for the lead NFL game of the week. He has won multiple Emmy Awards for his work.
  • Wilbert Montgomery (’77) begins his 29th year in the NFL this fall, including his second as running backs coach for Cleveland. Thanks to his tutelage last year, the Browns became the first NFL team since 1967 to have two rookie running backs (Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West) rush for more than 600 yards in a season. Montgomery is a former All-Pro player and career standout with the Philadelphia Eagles who has been an assistant coach for the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens.
  • Veteran Houston Texans defensive back Danieal Manning (’07) retired this summer, ending a nine-year career that began by playing in Super Bowl XLI as a rookie with the Chicago Bears. He earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2008.
Ottawa Redblacks' Aston Whiteside moves in to knock the ball from the hand of Calgary Stampeders' Bo Levi Mitchell during second quarter CFL football action in Ottawa on Friday, July 24, 2015. Whiteside gained possession of the ball to make an interception. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ottawa Redblacks’ Aston Whiteside moves in to knock the ball from the hand of Calgary Stampeders’ Bo Levi Mitchell during CFL football action in Ottawa on July 24, 2015. (Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Further north in the Canadian Football League, two other former ACU stars are forging careers where the regular season runs from July to November to avoid the most harsh portion of winter in places like Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal.
Quarterback Mitchell Gale (’12) is a backup quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts and defensive back Aston Whiteside (’12) is making headlines for the Ottawa Redblacks.
Whiteside, a ball-hawking defensive end, was one of three CFL Top Performers for Week Five of the season after his season debut consisted of two tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in leading Ottawa to an upset win over the defending league champion Calgary Stampeders. He forced a fumble in overtime to set up his team’s winning field goal.
Gale is in his third year with the Argos, who won the 2012 Grey Cup – the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl – the season before signing ACU’s career passing leader.