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Former UCF star receiver Doug Gabriel signs with Florida Tuskers; Punter Sauerbrun, QB Nall also expected to sign
Doug Gabriel, one of the most prolific wide receivers in UCF football history, will be playing in his old stadium again.
Gabriel signed a one-year contract Saturday with the Orlando Tuskers, who play their home games at UCF's old home, the Florida Citrus Bowl.
The Tuskers are one of four teams set to play in the United Football League, which begins Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 27. Gabriel joins former NFL players Michael Pittman (running back) and Koren Robinson (wide receiver) and former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett as the Tuskers' marquee names.
The Tuskers are also expected to sign NFL journeyman punter Todd Sauerbrun and ex-Northwestern State quarterback Craig Nall, who spent last year on the Packers practice squad.
Gabriel, who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2003 and has appeared in five NFL seasons, is excited to play in front of his friends and family in Orlando.
"It feels right," said Gabriel, a Dr. Phillips High graduate. "My family's going to be here, and that's more exciting than anything. They might even try to sneak into practice."
Gabriel, 29, was close to joining the San Francisco UFL team because Mike Kruczek -- his old coach at UCF -- is there. But Orlando offensive coordinator Jay Gruden swept Gabriel up at the last second.
"Gruden called me and said they bought my rights," Gabriel said. "I was happy, because I can be home. I wouldn't have minded playing for Kruczek -- he's a great coach -- but being home with Gruden and everyone has me really excited."
Gabriel spent three NFL seasons with the Raiders, showing promise with 71 catches and 1,122 yards in 42 appearances. He latched on with New England in 2006, catching three touchdowns and 344 yards from Tom Brady in 12 games.
Since then, Gabriel has been out of the NFL but has bounced around some training camps.
Now, he's ready to make an impact in his hometown, and he offers a promise to any football fans in Orlando.
Said Gabriel: "We're going to have this city going, I promise you that."
Zach McCann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.