With college football and the NFL in full swing, sports fans are in full gridiron mode.
But college basketball season is just around the corner, and many of its best players have an intense and scrappy playing style that might lend itself well to the football field. We’ve seen this in the past – current NFL stars such as Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates and Julius Peppers all once played college basketball.Important note: this piece excludes actual dual-sport athletes. But hypothetically, which college ballers would have a chance to thrive on the gridiron?
Here are our choices.
QB: Grayson Allen, Duke
Here’s what we know about Allen: he’s polarizing, he’s got plenty of swagger and he seems like the type that would be successful at anything he puts his mind to.
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Allen is the leader of arguably the most prestigious college basketball program in the country, Duke, in a year in which the Blue Devils might have their most talented squad ever. The junior is tall, fearless, athletic and is prone to dealing with pressure and criticism. Those are all traits you want in a star QB, which is why Allen is quarterbacking this basketball-turned-football team.
RB: Frank Mason, Kansas
Toughness, strength and quickness are all attributes you’d like to see in a running back. Mason has all three, and you know he’s the type that wouldn’t go to the ground easily.
Of course, he hits the deck plenty throughout the course of a college basketball season. But again, we’re dealing with different sports. Mason is frequently the first guy on the floor to dive for a loose ball, and he’s widely known as one of the most fearless players in the country.
Having a relentless attitude is great, but when you combine it with legitimate speed, agility and strength, that’s when you have something special. How about this juke past national champion Josh Hart?
Mason blows by the quickest guards in college hoops with ease, and once he gets in amongst the trees on the inside, he has the bulk to draw fouls and finish at the rim. We’ll never get to see it, but watching Mason run in between the tackles and on the edge would be a joy.
WR: Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Sorry in advance, defensive backs.
Vert test today pic.twitter.com/mCDXBjoRo1— Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges01) June 30, 2016
Bridges is an athletic specimen with the size of a Kelvin Benjamin, and he would make Allen’s job under center a heck of a lot easier. At 6-7, 225 pounds, if Bridges could learn route-running techniques, he’d be unguardable.
Theoretically, Bridges would have the strength to get off a jam at the line of scrimmage, the hops to win jump balls and the speed to beat corners and safeties down the field. We won’t see that happen, but at least we’ll be able to witness a hefty portion of putback dunks in East Lansing this season from the freshman.
WR: Kerwin Roach, Texas
No. 45, you poor soul.
We’ve got ourselves a pair of bounce brothers on the outside in Bridges and Roach. As a guard for Shaka Smart at Texas, Roach is one of the best athletes in college basketball. He’s capable of submitting a few dazzling plays per night.
Roach pretty much lived above the rim as a freshman:
The play ‘just go up and get it’ would be a popular one on this football team. With vertical superstars on the edge like Bridges and Roach, it would be tantalizing for Allen to throw into double and triple coverage multiple times per game.
TE: Bam Adebayo, Kentucky
At 6-10, 260 pounds with otherworldly athleticism, it sure would be fun to see what a guy like Adebayo could do at the tight end spot. Linebackers in coverage, beware.
Adebayo is a part of yet another star-studded Kentucky freshman class; he’s going to give the Wildcats a toughness on the interior that they lacked last season. Nimble athletes that weigh 260 pounds are few and far between, which would make Adebayo an intriguing blocking and receiving option as a football player.
TE: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
Swanigan was a stud left tackle growing up. But he’s slimmed down plenty over the years, so his combination of size, hands and agility lends itself well to the tight end spot.
An underrated aspect of a post player’s arsenal is his ability to catch tough passes. After all, a point guard is only as good as his intended target. Swanigan is adept at snatching difficult passes in tight spaces, and at 6-9, 260 pounds, he certainly has the bulk to dominate on the football field.