College football: A look back on recent multi-sport NCAA athletes
Tim Tebow had quite an impressive college football career with Florida, amassing two BCS National Championships, the 2007 Heisman Trophy and the all-time SEC record for total touchdowns.
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While Tebow, a high school baseball star, never suited up for the Gators baseball program over his four years in Gainesville, college football standouts testing their talents in other sports is nothing new.
Jim Brown, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders are perhaps the most acclaimed duo-sport athletes to do so. But here are some of the most notable recent examples of college athletes who shared their time on the gridiron with stints on the diamond, court or track.
Devon Allen – Oregon (2013-current)
It seems like every Oregon game turns into a track meet with its up-tempo spread offense and dynamic playmakers.
That suits current Ducks wide receiver Devon Allen perfectly as he doubles as a top hurdler for Oregon’s track and field program as well as the national team. While the Ducks reported to their first fall football practices earlier this week, Allen remains in Rio preparing to compete in the 110-meter hurdles for Team USA in the Summer Olympics.
Allen returned to the football field last year after undergoing knee surgery and ended his sophomore campaign with nine receptions for 94 yards in 12 games. He finished with 41 catches and seven touchdowns the prior season.
On the track, Allen is an NCAA champion in the 110-meter hurdle event and posted the second-fastest time in collegiate history in 2013-14.
Russell Wilson – NC State (2007-10)/Wisconsin (2011)
Years before leading the Seattle Seahawks to two straight Super Bowl appearances, Russell Wilson appeared dead set on living out his dreams on the baseball field.
After splitting time with the NC State football and baseball teams for three years, Wilson reported to the Colorado Rockies’ spring training camp after being drafted in 2010. However, he struggled with a .229 average through 315 minor league at-bats and transferred to Wisconsin to return to football in his final year of eligibility.
Between the two schools, Wilson was named to an All-conference team three years for football. In his three years with NC State baseball, he batted .279.
Jimmy Graham – Miami (Fla.) (2005-09)
All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham has proven he can go up and win any jump ball over smaller NFL defensive backs and linebackers.
That stems from his Miami routes where he made a name for himself on the basketball court for four years.
With his athleticism and 6-foot-8 build, Graham made for a serviceable forward and a reliable rebounder, averaging roughly four per game to go along with four points per game. He finished his Hurricanes career with the eighth-most blocks in school history (104).
Graham actually only spent his senior season playing football and had 17 receptions and five touchdowns. But his raw athleticism was enough to warrant a third round pick from the New Orleans Saints.
Julius Peppers (1999-2001)
North Carolina is known for its rich basketball tradition, reaching the Final Four a record 19 times. Star defensive end Julius Peppers was briefly a part of this.
Peppers played for the Tar Heels as a freshman and sophomore – and was a piece of the 2000 Final Four squad – and posted similar numbers as Graham: 5.7 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game. But once again, it was Peppers’ athleticism that stood out. Just check out this clip of one of his alley-oop finishes:
Peppers ultimately decided to solely commit to football after two years. He was an All-American in 2001 and finished with five interceptions in three years as a defensive lineman.