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Prior to Saturday night’s inaugural game of the new United States Football League (USFL), Alex McGough’s pro football career had been like a ping pong ball as he volleyed back and forth between various NFL practice squads and the league’s waiver wire.

The one time star at Tampa’s Gaither High School, who went on to a record-breaking college career at Florida International University, finally tossed his first regular season professional pass in the USFL’s debut - and it was just like old times.

With his Birmingham Stallions trailing the New Jersey Generals, 7-0, early in the first quarter of the USFL’s nationally televised prime time debut, McGough took the field at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium for the first time. He sprinted around the left side for a seven-yard gain on first down and a late hit by the Generals tacked on 15 more yards.

On the next snap, he dropped back for what would be his first regular season pass attempt in a professional football game and he made it count. Rolling through his progressions, he looked left and gazed over the middle before lofting a beautiful deep ball into the back right corner of the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown pass to teammate Osirus Mitchell.

Unfortunately for McGough, now 26, that would be the highlight of his evening. Later in the first quarter, he rolled his ankle while being tackled, after a short run, and limped off the field.

He came back out for the Stallions next series, but had lost his effectiveness. He was sacked on first down and nearly intercepted on second down as he scrambled away from pressure. His third down pass sailed high and was intercepted by New Jersey’s Shalom Luani. He struggled through one more series before being ruled out for the rest of the night.

McGough was 5-of-10 for 55 yards on the evening, with the one touchdown, one interception and a quarterback rating of 109.2. One time Louisiana Tech quarterback Da’Mar Smith replaced McGough and after a shaky start, rallied the Stallions to a 28-24 victory.

If history is a guide, McGough will battle back from this setback to continue chasing his childhood dream.

“I kind of just always had that dream,” McGough told Birmingham’s CBS 42 shortly after being drafted by the Stallions in the first round the USFL Draft. “In the back of my mind and I didn’t really ever not think it. I think if you stop thinking or you don’t think that you’re going to make it or be at the highest level or be the best, I don’t think you’ll ever achieve it. So, I always have that in my head like I could be the best and I want to be the best.”

The 6-foot-2 McGough first got noticed when he passed for 1,727 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior at Gaither. Soon thereafter he gave a verbal commitment to FIU, before tossing for another 1,258 yards and eight more scores as a senior.

In 2014, he made 11 starts for the Panthers as a true freshman and threw for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning a spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. As a sophomore he set Florida International single season records in pass attempts (420), completions (269), yards (2,722) and touchdowns (21). His junior year was limited to just nine games due to injuries, but McGough still managed to throw for 1,891 yards and 13 scores. By the time he was done, he accumulated a school record 9,091 passing yards and threw 65 touchdown passes in 45 games. He also rushed for 16 touchdowns.

McGough became the first quarterback drafted by the Seattle Seahawks since they selected Russell Wilson, when he was picked in the seventh round (220 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Having displayed dual-threat capabilities at FIU, Seattle envisioned a potential fit as a backup to Wilson. Coming off a broken collarbone suffered in his final college game, the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl, McGough showed enough to be signed to the Seahawks' practice squad after getting waived at the end of camp.

That offseason he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but once again he was waived in training camp. He was not idle long as he was signed to the Houston Texans practice squad and, on September 10, 2019, he was promoted to an active NFL roster for the first time.

Unfortunately, he did not see game action and he was waived in October and immediately resigned to the Texans’ practice squad. In 2020 he returned to Houston and again he was waived. Later that season he resigned with Seattle and spent the remainder of the year on Seahawks’ practice squad, but once again he did not survive training camp, getting waived in August of 2021.