A generation ago, athletes played multiple sports as a way of life. The only thing that changed was the season, as football bled into basketball, which bled into baseball, which bled back into football.
Modern times have brought a trend of specialization. Today, young athletes are far more likely to pick one sport early on and stick with it, playing on travel teams, AAU squads and training in the offseason rather than broadening their horizons as multi-sport athletes.
However, a number of talented athletes have continued the tradition of multi-sport success.
Russell Wilson excelled at baseball and football at N.C. State. He even spent time in the minor leagues, with the Colorado Rockies, before transferring to Wisconsin and being drafted by the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He also spent time this spring in the Texas Rangers’ minor league camp.
Notre Dame receiver Jeff Samardzija turned down a shot at an NFL career to focus on a baseball career, and he is now a mainstay of the Chicago Cubs’ rotation.
2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston excelled as a member of the Florida State baseball team this spring, compiling a 1-0 record with seven saves, a 1.08 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 33.1 innings as the Seminoles’ closer.
With the 2014 MLB draft set for this week, a handful of college football recruits are on a similar track.
While some will be early round selections and others later round choices, these players could have an interesting choice to make, or at least a nice footnote for their biographies.