Spring football works. Just ask Garrett Gilbert who made his first NFL start with the Dallas Cowboys….
Gilbert played in the Alliance of American Football league for the Orlando Apollos. His coach was the legendary college coach and player Steve Spurrier. The Apollos were likely the best team in the 8 week season led by now Cowboys Quarterback Garrett Gilbert. His season was cut short due to the league’s financial issues. But in those eight weeks he completed 60.6% of passes, and threw for 2,152 yards. He threw for thirteen touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Garrett Gilbert was brought into the Cowboys QB room to start in place of the injured Andy Dalton. He played very well, and looked like a decent QB. With Andy Dalton returning from an injury next week it seems that Gilbert will go back to the backup role. Even if it was for one week, Gilbert still had a regular season start, a huge tell that spring football is successful in getting players to the NFL. His stats from his start against a really talented Pittsburgh defense: 21-38, 243 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Steelers ended up winning the game late by a final of 24-19.
Garrett Gilbert was not the only player from a spring league that played for the Cowboys. Punter Hunter Niswander started for them. On two punts he had 79 yards, averaged 39.5 yards a punt and his longest went 40 yards. Niswander was a punter in the XFL for the D.C. Defenders. His statline for D.C. included 21 punts for 936 yards. He averaged 44.6 yards per punt and his longest punt went 62 yards.
Congrats to both Garrett and Hunter on making it to the NFL for the Cowboys. Another congrats to all the former spring league players that achieved big milestones. Including former BattleHawk’s safety Kenny Robinson as he made his first NFL tackle, Renegade’s Tight End Donald Parham caught his first NFL touchdown (As it stands right now Parham has two NFL touchdowns with the Chargers), former Roughnecks kicker Sergio Castillo made his first NFL start and field goal. Finally, Included below this article is a list of former spring league players’ accomplishments this season in the NFL.