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Gamblers RB T.J. Pledger Posts Two-TD Performance In USFL Opener

Apr 16, 2023, 12:55 PM

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SALT LAKE CITY – Former Utah Utes and current Houston Gamblers running back T.J. Pledger scored a pair of rushing touchdowns during the opening week of the 2023 USFL season.

The Gamblers hosted the Michigan Panthers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee on Sunday, April 16.

During Houston’s opener, Pledger powered into the end zone for a couple of scores.

The former Utah standout’s first touchdown came on a one-yard run up the middle. The score tied the scoreboard at 6-6 with 49 seconds left in the first quarter.

A few minutes later, Pledger was back at it. The running back burst up the gut for a two-yard touchdown to move Houston in front of Michigan, 12-9, with 9:02 remaining in the first half.

Houston went on to lose to Michigan, 29-13.

Pledger finished the contest with 16 carries for 41 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 10 yards.

With the loss, the Gamblers opened the season with an 0-1 record.

Houston’s next game is against the New Orleans Breakers on Saturday, April 11 at 10:30 a.m. (MDT). The game will be televised on USA.

About T.J. Pledger

The Pacoima, California native played at Utah for a single season in 2021. Prior to his time at Utah, Pledger was a member of the Oklahoma Sooners.

After transferring to join the Utes, Pledger helped Utah win the Pac-12 Championship and a Rose Bowl Game bid for the first time in program history.

During his lone season with Utah, the former Oklahoma player recorded 97 carries for 671 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. He surpassed the 100-yard mark in four games this season.

In Utah’s win over Stanford on November 5, 2021, Pledger scored on a 96-yard touchdown run. The run is the longest rushing play and the second-longest play from scrimmage in Utah football history.

In his college career, Pledger carried the ball 232 times for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes out of the backfield for 196 yards.

After going undrafted in 2022, Pledger spent time with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.

About the USFL

2023 USFL Teams

**new franchise for the 2023 season – Memphis replaced the Tampa Bay Bandits (temporary hiatus)

The original edition of the USFL started in 1982. The league played three seasons before ceasing operations in 1986. The 18-team league faced competition from the NFL.

In June 2021, the USFL announced it would return with an eight-team league in 2022. The league’s 2022 regular season schedule was played in only two locations in Birmingham, Alabama. The games were televised nationally on NBC or FOX.

The 2023 regular season games will be played in Detroit, Michigan, Canton, Ohio, Birmingham, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee.

The USFL is the third major professional football league operating in the United States in 2023. In addition to the USFL and NFL, the twice-defunct XFL rebooted for a third time in February.

However, unlike the USFL, the 2023 edition of the XFL includes a partnership with the NFL. The XFL previously ceased its operations in 2001 and 2020. A year before the XFL’s second stint, another football league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) ceased to operate.

Kyle Ireland is a Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com and co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on Twitter (@kyleireland) and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).

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Gamblers RB T.J. Pledger Posts Two-TD Performance In USFL Opener