Power Ranking the Best Two-Sport Recruits of the BCS Era
Many football recruits play more than one sport at the high school level, but it takes a truly talented athlete to play two sports at the college level.
Not only does it take an insane amount of talent to play two sports at the collegiate level, but it takes a massive amount of time and dedication. Many equate being a college football player to having a full-time job while in college.
Now imagine being an elite two-sport athlete. Sports essentially become the very fabric of your life.
We've seen some very impressive football recruits during the BCS era (1999-present), but some of these players excelled at more than just football.
Not all of these players played two sports at the same time, but all of them were regarded as big-time athletes in at least one sport entering the college ranks. In the case of one of these players, the professional ranks came calling, and we never got to see him put on a collegiate uniform.
With all of those technicalities in mind, here's a list of the best two-sport recruits from the BCS era.
5. Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham is currently one of the best tight ends in the NFL, but he entered the college ranks as a big-time college basketball player.
He averaged 20.7 points, 13.8 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game as a senior in high school (per his bio).
Graham went on to play basketball for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team, where he averaged 4.2 points and rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per game. He played basketball for Miami from 2005-2007 and played football for a season while taking graduate classes (per his bio).
As a tight end for Miami, he notched 17 catches for 213 yards and five touchdowns.
He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints after just playing that one year as a college football player, which goes to show you how good he was.
When you consider his NFL career, plus the fact that he played four years of college basketball in the ACC, it's hard not to be impressed with Graham as a college athlete.
He may have entered as a basketball recruit, but he left Miami as as star football player. That's enough to qualify him for this list.
4. Antonio Gates
If you've ever watched a San Diego Chargers game, chances are you've seen tight end Antonio Gates make a big-time football play.
Chances are you've also heard one of the announcers talk about Gates' abilities as a tight end and how they derive from his skill as a basketball player at the college level.
As a high school athlete, Gates was first team all-state in both football and basketball. He won a football championship at Detroit Central High School as a senior.
He was recruited by Nick Saban at Michigan State and took a redshirt season, but Saban wouldn't let him play basketball, so he transferred to Eastern Michigan. He then enrolled at a California community college called College of the Sequoias where he did not play and finally ended up at Kent State.
Gates averaged 20.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG at Kent State (chargers.com).
Like some of the other tight ends on this list, Gates' football career benefited greatly from his basketball career.
3. Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer is one of the best catchers in major league baseball today, but it's very easy to forget that he was considered to be one of the best high school athletes to ever come out of the state of Minnesota.
Mauer was drafted to play professional baseball, and he'll always be thought of as a baseball player, but he had actually signed with the Florida State Seminoles to play quarterback—and that's why he's on this list.
As a high school senior, Mauer completed 178-of-288 for 3,022 yards, 41 touchdowns and five interceptions according to Jason Deegan of Rivals.com. He also won the Gatorade State Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, Wendy's High School Heisman and was named National Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus according to Deegan.
Mauer was also a stellar high school basketball player.
Alas, he chose to enter the MLB draft, and the college football world never saw Joe Mauer the quarterback.
2. Julius Peppers
Right now you may think of Julius Peppers as the dominant defensive end that has terrorized NFL quarterbacks for the duration of his professional career, but there was a time where he was a basketball player as well.
He notched more than 1,600 points, 800 rebounds and 200 assists as a high school basketball player, according to Tim Crothers of SI.com, and he ran for 3,501 yards and 46 touchdowns as a football player.
Peppers was recruited by North Carolina as a football player, but he was actually talented enough to walk on to the famed UNC basketball team as well. While that in itself should be impressive enough, Peppers was much more than a bench player.
According to statsheet.com, Peppers averaged 4.5 points per game in 1999-00 and 7.1 points per game in 2000-01 as a power forward. He played 17.6 minutes per game in 2001.
The Peppers you probably know is a dominant NFL defensive lineman, but some may remember him as a good basketball player for the Tar Heels.
1. Antwaan Randle El
Antwaan Randle El is arguably one of the greatest athletes of the BCS era. Chances are you know him for what he's done in the NFL (and he's been quite prolific at that), but he was a very good college athlete.
Randle El actually played quarterback for the Indiana Hoosiers, where he racked up 7,469 yards, 42 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. That said, he also rushed for 3,895 yards and 44 rushing touchdowns, and he caught seven passes for 90 yards and one touchdown.
On its own, Randle El's college football career would be impressive enough.
He also played two years of basketball for Indiana, though, under coach Bobby Knight, and believe it or not, he played a year of college baseball (per Sean Merriman of BTN.com).
Without a doubt in my mind, Randle El is the best two-sports athlete in the BCS era.