Baseball and Football Crossover Athletes

Discussion in 'Baseball' started by Shadowlight, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. Shadowlight

    Shadowlight Master

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    From ownership ( Don) to management (white lightening and Flint) to team captains ( Leonardfan and Bucky) (ha) to star players the message getting through is more posting fortifies the site and helps keep it alive and well.

    This off the beaten track thread during this sports lull will likely bore the hell out of nearly everyone and won't help rectify things. But what the hell?

    No mystery here that I am a diehard sports fan and even I am a bit ashamed to admit I have been tracking baseball speedsters since the 1993 MLB draft and have kept many of those resources I have used over the years. Obviously I have never been married. What wife would put up with my "hobby?" Ha.

    What triggered me for this thread was ultra dynamite Ole Miss QB John Rhys Plumlee ( please read the recent synopsis of Plumlee in the College Football Stars - 2020 Quarterbacks thread). He is a true rarity. Most baseball speedsters don't play football after high school. Plumlee made National Champions LSU look like their legs were in cement as Plumlee blew through them like a tornado. It is a shame a player who attended some of the same baseball camps as Plumlee, WR Jase Bowen,( Michigan State commit) opted to play pro baseball instead where he struggled last year. Bowen and Plumlee would record the same 60 yard dash times.

    Below is four players that have always intrigued me. I aim to add to the list and maybe others will as well?



    Jason Sehorn

    upload_2020-6-30_12-58-58.png

    Crazy but I vaguely recall hearing his name when he played for the Cubs organization. A gifted all around athletic stud Sehorn was also a great basketball player with big time hops. The Cubs drafted him even though he didn't play high school baseball. He was such an intriguing athlete they couldn't pass him up. As an OF Sehorn displayed his speed with 9 stolen bases in 123 at bats but hit only .184 in 1990. Thankfully he saw the light before it was too late and the rest is history. He went on to star at USC for two seasons. He is still the last great White CB to play in the NFL.

    Fred Lynn

    upload_2020-6-30_13-7-56.png

    Being a Yankees fan I despised the Red Sox but when Lynn exploded onto the scene in 1975 he won both ROY and MVP ( the only player to do that up until that point). That was the season the Red Sox lost perhaps the greatest WS of all time against the Reds. Lynn didn't run. He floated. Whether swinging the bat or chasing down and diving for balls in CF he remains the most graceful baseball player I have ever seen. Many keen observers thought he was the next coming of Joe DiMaggio and I had to admit he was a stunning player to watch.

    But his career while good never consistently blossomed to rarified heights and that has remained a mystery to me. I was shocked when the Red Sox let him go. I would be shocked again later on when New England hero C Carlton Fisk was shown the door.
    Baseball scouts were drooling over Lynn while he was in high school but he was given a football scholarship at USC. Lynn Swann was there at the time and Lynn became an instant star playing both WR and CB for the freshman squad. This was before freshman were allowed on varsity. He returned both punts and kick offs and even kicked the ball. But after a year of it Lynn. who was 6'0" 170, decided that baseball might be a better fit even though football was his first love.

    John Elway
    upload_2020-6-30_13-26-3.png

    Elway's HOF football credentials are well known so no need to rehash his brilliance as a QB. But Elway is that rare two sport athlete where many are left wondering what kind of baseball player he would have been. In his one season for a Yankees farm team Elway flashed brilliance. In 1982 he batted .318 in 151 at bats and stole 13 bases in 16 attempts. He had a good eye and his play in right field left scouts stunned. He was not only flawless out there he garnered 8 assists with his cannon arm, the same arm that made him famous in the NFL. A top tier tremendous athlete he is that rare two sport athlete that makes one wonder whether he actually chose the right sport despite his great NFL career.

    Kirk Gibson
    upload_2020-6-30_13-35-11.png

    Once in a while a player comes around that has me completely transfixed and Kirk fits the bill. I only recall watching him play football in a college all star game. At his size scouts were flabbergasted when he ripped off a 4.27 40 yard dash. A sure early first round NFL draft pick. But I never gave him much thought until I saw an SI cover article in a doctor's office. Kirk had made his way through the minors at the time and was ready for the big show. His famous manager Sparky Anderson compared him to Mickey Mantle. The first early memory was anxiously watching Kirk play the Red Sox at Fenway. He had a ferocious swing but was struggling early in his career.



    Kirk won a WS with the Tigers in 1984 and one with the Dodgers in 1988, the same year he hit that historic WS home run off Dennis Eckersley . He also won the NL MVP that season. He was an electric athlete. His raw athleticism was breathtaking. But I can't help but wonder if he ended up choosing the wrong sport. He had enormous gifts as a WR and unlike baseball he wouldn't have to worry about hitting curve balls etc. Kirk did a lot of swing and missing despite having a very good career. As a pure athlete I feel Gibson was better than the much ballyhooed Bo Jackson. Kirk was a better baseball player than Bo and I suspect would have been a better NFL player as well.



















     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  2. Carolina Speed

    Carolina Speed Master

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    Great thread Shadowlight. If it's Ok, I would like to throw out Danny Ainge. Probably the greatest HS and maybe college athlete of all time. I know this is baseball/football. But would just like to remind everyone, if you didn't know that Ainge a two time NBA Champion, is the only athlete to be named All-American in three HS sports. Baseball/Football and of course Basketball.
    Thanks for staring this thread Shadowlight. I hope others will participate.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  3. la piovra

    la piovra Newbie

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    Cool post. Two contemporary NFL players that come to mind are Jeff Driskel and Hayden Hurst who was drafted by the Pirates but had the yips so bad transitioned to football iirc. Jeff Driskel is a great talent idk if he is even on the Lions anymore but if he is I would most likely trade Stafford and build around Driskel
     
  4. Shadowlight

    Shadowlight Master

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    Regarding the Carolina Speed and la piovra posts above. It is funny I had Danny Ainge written down and was planning on throwing him in. Good one. For sure Ainge was playing for the Blue Jays at the age of 20 and played three seasons from 1979-1980 while he was also starring for the BYU basketball team. And his coast to coast last second shot against Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament is still regarded as one of the greatest clutch tournament plays of all time. In fact he beat the entire Notre Dame five players on that play.

    I forgot about Driskel. He was a star high school baseball player and is considered one of the fastest QBs in the NFL. Hope he sticks with a team. With the Bengals then Lions. Like you lost track of him. Hurst got out of "Dodge" just in time.

    San Jose State big play WR senior Bailey Gaither ran impressive 60 yard dash times while in high school. But below is another player who tested the waters of minor league baseball for a spell.

    David Durden
    upload_2020-6-30_17-14-1.png

    Durden is also a big play speedster junior WR for Mercer. Both Gaither and Durden are mentioned in the College Football Stars - 2020 Wide receivers thread. Durden batted .220 in 90 at bats in the Gulf Coast league which is just a rookie league. Thankfully he saw the light too.

    The truth is too many potential football playing White baseball players never see the light and get stuck playing out their minor league careers in anonymity. The list is a mile long.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  5. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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  6. Don Wassall

    Don Wassall Administrator Staff Member

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    Fred Lynn was someone who disappointed after his phenomenal MVP rookie year in 1975 when he led the AL in runs scored, doubles and slugging percentage, batted .331 and knocked in over 100 runs while also winning a Gold Glove and leading the Red Sox to an unexpected trip to the World Series. As Shadowlight mentioned, Lynn had a nice career, but in '75 it appeared he was going to be a superstar for the ages.

    I lived in New England for a couple years, including '75, and the Red Sox were a blast to root for that year, and of course the World Series against the Reds was also a classic, with Carlton Fisk providing an all-time iconic homerun and celebration in Game 6.
     
  7. dolphins15

    dolphins15 Guru

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    Chipper Jones was an All State Wide Receiver in Florida. Of course he was the #1 pick in the MLB draft right out of high school. Word is he had offers from Miami and FSU to play receiver.



    [​IMG]
     
  8. Shadowlight

    Shadowlight Master

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    Member white is right ( see article above) brings up former ND star WR Jeff Sarmardzija another name I jotted down on a pad. Coming off two straight 1,000 receiving yards for the Irish pretty much guaranteed getting drafted but Jeff opted out and became a MLB pitcher. I was not pleased with his decision ( I don't think anyone here was) especially since he was a pitcher.

    upload_2020-6-30_21-20-52.png


    Don I think a major issue with Lynn were nagging injuries. But still his career arc was bizarre. He followed up his rookie year with a .314 average but lost some pop that year. He also started missing chunks of time. He had a very good season in 1978 and in 1979 hit .333 and whacked 39 home runs. His last year with the Red Sox in 1980 he still managed to hit .301 and his Gold Glove play in center was a constant. He still seemed like the best natural talent in baseball at that point but after landing with the Angels and later the Orioles he would put up decent stats but the magic had faded somewhat. He did make the All Star game from 1975-1983.

    I have two other players who had somewhat strange careers.

    Dain Erstad
    upload_2020-6-30_20-48-54.png



    The amiable Erstad was an all around athletic stud in high school. A star kicker and punter and hockey player. He was state champ in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles. And he was a fantastic baseball outfielder. He went on to star for the Nebraska baseball team and hit over .410 his junior season in 1995 and was the first player chosen in the 1995 draft. In the meantime he was the Nebraska punter for one season in 1994 a year they won the championship. He was a gifted punter who averaged over 42 yards a punt and not wasting his athleticism they let him fake punts and run every once in a while like the photo above.

    Erstad went on to have a very good baseball career. He won some Gold Gloves and at the age of 26 in 2000 he exploded. He had 240 hits and ended up batting .355. He bopped 25 home runs and knocked in 100 runs. Just entering his prime at 26 he was on the verge of superstardom. But he never approached those numbers again. He did have some solid seasons and had a huge postseason leading the Angels to a WS championship in 2002 while manning centerfield with aplomb. But that great season was an anomaly. Still a gutsy fun hustling player who was still pretty darn good.

    Drew Henson
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    Drew was seen as the next big thing. A star football, baseball and basketball player the strapping 6'4" 222 Henson was destined for stardom in either baseball or football. Seemed like the next coming of John Elway. His career path is so complicated I won't try to cover it all. He looked like a can't miss prospect with a lot of athletic ability, a rocket arm and light tower baseball power. I remember getting frustrated that he had to share his first two years at Michigan with Tom Brady (ha) but he did have a very good junior year after Brady got drafted. Meanwhile he was spending summers in the Yankees organization trying to fine tune his craft as a 3B showing early promising power.

    What could go wrong? Everything. A career .248 minor league hitter he only ended up with 9 career major league at bats. He played in the NFL ( was drafted in the 6th round) as a scrub for two seasons ( 2002-03) with only 20 career passes to his name. Henson's story should serve as a warning for up and coming multi sport talents. Maybe he would have been better served sticking to one sport. In his case I wanted to see him succeed in football and he did show flashes but it just wasn't meant to be.

    Late edit see dolphin15 post above. I was a Chipper Jones fanatic and followed his career right after he got drafted first in 1990. I would keep looking up his minor league stats every week and collected all of his baseball cards. Chip off the old block because he looked just like his dad. I read his interesting book which was published a few years ago. That is a nice little highlight video that I have never seen before. Chipper, on the verge of making the team as a rookie tore his ACL in 1994 in a Braves preseason game and lost a little bit of that speed. I remember watching it live and I was sick for weeks.

     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  9. dolphins15

    dolphins15 Guru

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    Joe Mauer became the only athlete to ever be selected USA Today High School Player of the year in two sports. Mauer from St. Paul Minnesota had committed to FSU as QB but ultimately went the MLB route after he was selected 1st overall in the draft his senior year of high school. He went on to have a 15 year career and a 6 time All Star and the 2009 AL MVP.

     
  10. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    Brady while never signed was drafted as a long shot catching prospect, imagine how that could have turned out if he was drafted higher and had a bigger signing bonus dangled in his face. I know this he probably wouldn't have a 1,000,000 dollar baseball card if he was the equivalent of Brady in MLB history...

    PS, the first MLB and NFL player was probably Jim Thorpe who while being a journeyman MLB player is a legendary running back and punter and was regarded as the top athlete of the first half of the 20th century.

    PS 2, I never was disappointed by The Shark's decision as he was just being smart considering the long term health implications and the financial rewards if he stuck in the majors.

    I'm not even sure Julio Jones or whomever is the highest paid receiver makes 19 million and their contract isn't guaranteed beyond 2 years of the contract.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  11. Don Wassall

    Don Wassall Administrator Staff Member

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    Lynn definitely had the injury bug, as in the eleven year stretch from 1980 through 1990 he only played in more than 124 games twice, and those totals were 138 and 142. But other than a big year in 1979 he never again approached the offensive promise of his rookie season. He only exceeded 86 RBIs twice in his career, and from batting .331 as a rookie he ended up with a career batting average of .283, hitting over .300 just four times in 16 years. So comparing his all-time great rookie season to what came after was a distinct downer. He was undeniably always graceful as an outfielder though.
     
  12. la piovra

    la piovra Newbie

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    A bit random but former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione was a DE on the Giants practice squad(under Accorsi) for a season before he embarked on MMA.

    I remember Jeff S wish he declared for the NFL, I could see him being in the Jordy and Decker camp. His college tape is great.
     
  13. TwentyTwo

    TwentyTwo Master

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    NICE thread! Much respect to the Two Way Players!

    Yes indeed Shadowlight...Watching 6'-5" WR Jeff Samardzija at Notre Dame...You knew he had NFL Starting potential & 1,000 yard receiver! . He made it look too easy back then. Wish Jase Bowen had given Football a shot @ Michigan State

    A few off the top of my head...

    Jeff Francoeur was a Highly Recruited DB & WR out of HS headed to Clemson ....But Played MLB instead....ended up hitting 160 HR's & 698 RBI's in his career.
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    Matt Szczur was a stud Consensus FCS All American; All purpose Tailback/WR at Villanova. ( 5'-11" 200lbs )One Scout potential 4th Round pick as an NFL RB. Drew comparisons to Michael Westbrook.
    Career totals include 1,803 rushing yards & 17 TD's ; 1,485 receiving yards & 11 TD's + 1,690 kickoff return yards & 2 TD's ; 206 passing yards (12-of-14) with 5 TD's and 180 points ... Had 5,234 career all-purpose yards ..& 30 TD's.....essentially saved the girl's life donating bone marrow back in o9.
    MLB career went ok...But really wished he had tried the NFL first
    [​IMG]

    When Mike Trout was asked "If you were in the NFL would you play Safety or Linebacker"? Trout said "Running Back". Labeled the white Bo Jackson @ 6 '-2" 230 running 4.4 sure would have been interesting .

    Heisman Runner up RB Toby Gerhart played college baseball ...Wish the Vikings had not Drafted him as Adrian Peterson's back up.
     
  14. Shadowlight

    Shadowlight Master

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    Worth noting WR Eric Decker ( mentioned in passing above),WR Riley Cooper and QB Jake Locker were stand out high school baseball players. Decker was also a star on the Gophers baseball team in 2008-09. Cooper played one year of Gator baseball but didn't play very well.

    Regarding the TwentyTwo post above. When I was making my list Matt Szczur completely slipped my mind. Had 4.4 speed.

    And I remember the hubbub surrounding the athletic Jeff Francoeur a star DB out of Georgia. For a while it looked like the hometown youngster would become a folk hero for the Braves. A RF in his rookie year he batted .300 in 257 at bats. After a solid second season he hit .293 with 19 home runs and 103 RBIs in his third season. Landed a cover on SI and had a gun in RF. Had a lot of charisma and was well liked by everyone. Then his career went south. He batted .239 the next year, got dumped by the Braves and started bouncing around the league. Had a decent year in 2011 for the Royals where he batted .285 but after that things got even worse until he retired after 2016. Baseball scouts loved his athleticism but a few did question his bat. That in the end came back to haunt him. Will never know if he chose the right sport. Maybe he could have been a prelude to Tanner Muse if he had played football at Clemson?

    Todd Helton
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    Another well liked player Helton was the 8th overall pick in the 1995 MLB draft, the same year Erstad was taken number one. He went on to have a fantastic career at 1B and might deserve to be in the HOF? But before that he played both baseball and football at Tennessee. His first two years he backed up exciting dual threat QB Heath Schuler. He finally got to start his junior year but a few games in suffered a knee injury which led the way for Peyton Manning who was a freshman at the time. Helton had nifty feet and wasn't a bad QB but he chose the right sport no question.

    Keith Smith
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    Smith was a record setting QB out of California but was also a star SS who decided to play baseball. He played one year and batted .237 in 198 at bats with 15 stolen bases as a Tigers farm hand. He gave up and landed on the Arizona football team as their starting QB as a freshman in 1996. With his 4.47 speed and outstanding quickness he was a real dynamo running racking up 546 yards on the ground with 8 TDs. He was cat quick and blew by defenders. He ended up playing all four years there but started to run less often. He also shared QB duties at times but played in 43 games at Arizona. He was a pretty good passer but was only 5'10" so he landed in the CFL. I lost track of him at that point but I was reading he suffered a bad injury which cut his career short.
     

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  15. white lightning

    white lightning Hall of Famer Staff Member

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    Keith Smith helped to lead the U of A Wildcats to their best season in the history of the university of arizona. All they did was go 11-1 in 1998. The only game they lost was a game against UCLA at home. It was a close game until the 2nd half. Turnovers
    cost the Wildcats the loss that day. That would be their only loss including the bowl game. You could say they only lost 1 quarter of football in that year. Too bad they ended up in the Holiday Bowl. They beat Nebraska and finished 4th in the country
    at the end of the season in the rankings. Keith Smith was electric. He was so fun to watch. A Doug Flutie Clone per say and he made this U of A Wildcats Teams so much fun to watch. The kid was amazing! :)
     
  16. TomIron361

    TomIron361 Guru

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    I know this doesn't have to do with crossover athletics but it is an interesting situation. Just goes to show even smart jews are dumb.

    Happy Bobby Bonilla Day! Why Mets pay him $1.19M every ...
    www.espn.com › mlb › story › happy-bobby-bonilla-d...
    www.espn.com › mlb › story › happy-bobby-bonilla-d...
    1. Cached
    Jul 1, 2019 - Other notable examples of deferred-money contracts. • Bobby Bonilla (again): A second deferred-contract plan with the Mets and Orioles pays ...
    Missing: brutal ‎| Must include: brutal
     
  17. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    Rick Leach is a guy we forgot about he was a Tiger and a Blue Jay reserve outfielder that had substance abuse issues. He was voted third in the Heisman race as a qb for Michigan and was drafted in football, even after being a high pick in baseball. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Leach_(baseball)

    PS, we forgot about Timothy Tebow who has a chance to have a cup of coffee at the MLB level and had an unfulfilled NFL career.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  18. Flint

    Flint Mentor Staff Member

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    This is a great thread but don't let Sports Historian see it, he could go on for days about the oldtimers that were double sports stars. I'll let you in on a little secret, prior to the black take over of college football nearly all Major League white players were football players, mostly starters and plenty of stars. That's just the way it was in the olden times, you played baseball in the spring/summer and football in the fall. Many played basketball in the winter too. Recently I was looking at some baseball cards from a team of my childhood: the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers. Nearly all of those guys had been college football players, many of them drafted. Norm Cash, Jim Northrup, Mickey Stanley, and so on. I think it was pretty standard that the two sports were pulling from almost the exact talent pool. Baseball was way ahead in those days, that's where the money was and football was considered practically a minor sport for a long time.
     
  19. Carolina Speed

    Carolina Speed Master

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    To your point Flint, but going back a little farther. Mickey Mantle was offered a football scholarship to Oklahoma to play halfback, but baseball was his first love.
     
  20. Shadowlight

    Shadowlight Master

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    I find this a fascinating topic. The cultural evolution in sports where White stars started to get replaced by black stars. One could write a massive book on the subject.

    Before that I just want to interject something that will amuse Carolina Speed. In case some are wondering why Mike Trout never played football, Mike's father was a very good baseball player and was a career .300 plus hitter in four minor league seasons as an infielder. He was probably heading to the majors at some point batting well over .300 at Double-A but injuries finished him off. As Flint points out if Mike Trout was a child of the 60's he would have probably played football along with the baseball. But Mike Trout's second sport was basketball. See below. Ha.
    upload_2020-7-3_6-20-5.png

    I was just a little kid but I vividly remember that mighty Tigers squad ( Horton and his bulging biceps, Kaline, Freehan, Lolich and his pot belly, Cash and of course Denny McClain) from the 1960's. Even went to a couple of games at Tigers stadium back then. They were like the "New Yankees" since the Yankees were in sharp decline. From 1967-1968 they were top of the pops and yes CF Mickey Stanley was considered the best athlete on the team. He was a sensational defensive CF and had great speed. He won 4 Gold Gloves. When their dominance had ended in the early 1970's they brought in 3B Aurelio Rodriguez. He was a great defensive 3B and threw absolute peas to first base. What an arm. He only won one Gold Glove though because he played in the era of Brooks Robinson who won 16 straight Gold Gloves.

    Even though the Orioles surprised Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series it was the early star studded 1969 onward Orioles that eventually overtook the Tigers for good. But the sands were shifting on another front too. Mickey Stanley would eventually be replaced in the mid 70's by speedy black CF Ron Leflore. David Halbestram wrote a revealing book in 1995 titled "October 1964" which charts the beginning of the decline of the mainly white Yankees and the rise of the speedy blacker St. Louis Cardinals. (Lou Brock and Curt Flood). By the way star pitcher Bob Gibson played for the Harlem Globetrotters for a spell.

    If there has been a major cultural shift since the 1960s and 1970s I even detect a shift after the mid 1990's. While multi sport white athletes are around in the recent past and today like Rocco Baldelli who like Darin Erstad was a four star high school athlete, NBA leaper Pat Connaughton who has potential as a MLB pitcher and Royals OF Bubba Starling who Nebraska wanted as a dual threat QB, I have noticed a clear drop off of White baseball stars who also were star RBs or WRs in football. Two of the best examples I can think came up in 1993 and 1994.

    McKay Christensen
    upload_2020-7-3_6-43-56.png


    McKay scored 44 touchdowns as a senior in high school and BYU wanted him at WR. He was the fastest high school player in the 1994 draft and was chosen as the 6th overall pick. He went on a two year Mormon mission and after a long climb eventually made it to the big leagues but mainly as a reserve. (5'-11" 180).

    Chad Green
    upload_2020-7-3_6-51-40.png

    Green might be the fastest prospect I have known since the 1990's. I saw him play in person towards the end of his minor league career. Rumored to be faster than the neighborhood dogs he beat Deion Sander's 60 yard dash record at an event, Green was lusted after by Lou Holtz at Notre Dame after Green's star running back play at Mentor High School in Ohio. But he eventually went to Kentucky to play baseball and was the 8th overall pick in the 1996 draft. After a promising rookie season Green muddled his way through a minor league career and never made it to the big leagues. (5'10" 200).

    To this day I have to think both of these players chose the wrong sport. Christensen as a WR for BYU and Green as a RB at Notre Dame. Where is that time machine when you need it?


















     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020

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