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Taylor Gabriel, Daryl Richardson improbably reunited with Browns

Daryl Richardson's memories of his final college season were fresh Thursday as he spoke from his locker inside the Browns facility.

Perhaps it was a familiar face across the room that jogged the running back's memory bank.

As a senior at Abilene Christian, then a Division II college, Richardson led the team with 825 rushing yards, 371 receiving yards and a combined 13 touchdowns in 2011. The player closest behind him in touchdowns? Sophomore wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, who led the team with 988 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns.

"He'd score one, then I'd score one," Richardson said Thursday. "It's just a blessing to come from the same college, Abilene Christian, Division II, to playing together in the NFL."

Gabriel, who earned his roster spot the hard way with the Browns last season, and Richardson were reunited Tuesday. The Browns needed a running back after Glenn Winston suffered a concussion in Sunday's win against the 49ers, and Richardson, a 5-foot-10, 192-pound, third-year veteran, fit the bill.

Needless to say, it was an unlikely, improbable reunion for two of the few Abilene Christian alums in the NFL.

"I'm happy he's here," Gabriel said. "It's good to see a familiar face."

There's one more familiar face Richardson's seen since he arrived Tuesday, but this one he'd only seen on posters and magazines back at school. Richardson's position coach, Wilbert Montgomery, is an Abilene Christian legend who set numerous program records and led the team to a 1973 NAIA Division I national championship.

Richardson's the most recent Abilene Christian alum to enter the league through the draft, but his path to playing time was right on line with what Gabriel, a tryout player with the Browns in May 2014, experienced. The second-to-last pick in the 2012 draft, Richardson made St. Louis' final roster cuts and played in all 16 games as a rookie, rushing for 475 yards. He played in eight games in 2013 and hasn't seen the field ever since.

Richardson, whose cousin Clyde Gates and brother Darnell Scott also played at Abilene Christian and in the NFL, went back to school and received his diploma last December.

"It hasn't been how I wanted it," Richardson said. "I've just been praying and hoping for this chance and opportunity again."

As Richardson went through the NFL process, he often fielded calls from Gabriel, who had his eye on the league as he wrapped up his college career. The advice was uplifting and encouraging, as Richardson saw pro potential in the 5-foot-8 wide receiver.

The more Abilene Christian guys, the merrier, he thought. He just didn't expect it to play out like this.

"The hard part is getting in. All you need is the opportunity," Richardson said. "I know once he got that opportunity, he was able to make the best of it."

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