Arena League Opens March 11 With Several Former Knights

March 4, 2011

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By Christian Edwards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With the NFL season concluding a couple of weeks ago many people might think that there will be no professional football for a while, but that is not true. The Arena Football League will kick-off the 2011 season next week with five former Knights currently on different rosters.

The hometown Orlando Predators are represented by three alums in WR Doug Gabriel, WR/LB Sergio Joachim and DL Frisner Nelson. Joachim and Gabriel are entering their first seasons in the AFL, while Nelson is in his second.

Gabriel played at UCF from 2001-02 and finished his career as one of the most decorated receivers in school history. He holds many single-season receiving records for his breakout performance in 2002. Gabriel holds the record for the most receiving yards in a season with 1,237 yards in 2002, including six 100-yard receiving games. Gabriel is tied for eighth in career 100-yard receiving games with eight. He finished his career at UCF with 97 receptions for 1,869 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also recorded one rushing touchdown. Gabriel was selected in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders and played for four seasons in the NFL prior to beginning his AFL career.

Joachim played receiver for the Knights from 2003-07. In 2005, he earned his first playing time and played in 10 games. He finished the season with five receptions for 16 yards. Joachim appeared in 13 games with one start in 2007 and finished the season with 19 receptions for 236 yards.

At UCF, Nelson started at defensive tackle in 22 of the 45 games he played in from 2002-05. He finished his collegiate career with 101 tackles (57 solo), 17 tackles for loss, seven and one half sacks and an interception.

The Knights are also represented by Arizona Rattlers' OL Steve Edwards, who is entering his second season in the AFL, and Tampa Bay Storm FB/LB Mike Merritt, who is entering his first AFL season. Edwards anchored the offensive line at UCF from 2000-01 and started 19 of the 20 games he played in. He played in the NFL from 2004-07, including stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens.

Merritt played tight end at UCF from 2004-07 and appeared in 38 games with 30 starts. In 2007, he helped block for the nation's leading rusher in Kevin Smith, who recorded 2,567 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns. Merritt's career receiving totals include 17 receptions for 201 yards. He was a seventh-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2008 NFL Draft.

UCF Football season ticket packages can be purchased or renewed online at UCFAthletics.com or by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000. Home games include Charleston Southern [Champions UKNIGHT (Sept. 3)], Boston College [Hall of Fame Weekend (Sept. 10)], Marshall (Oct. 8), Memphis [Alumni UKNIGHT - Homecoming 2011 (Oct. 29)], Tulsa (Nov. 5) and UTEP [Senior Day (Nov. 26)]. Should UCF host the C-USA Championship Game for the fourth time in seven years, it would be played on Saturday, Dec. 3 and season ticket holders will receive the first shot at the best seats.