1B~ Darin Erstad~ Los Angeles (AL)–Former punter for the 1994 National Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers. Averaged over 42 yards per punt. Was such an impressive walk-on punter, he was offered a full football scholarship in 1994 by legendary coach Tom Osbourne. Had possible NFL potential as a punter, but decided to concentrate on baseball only in 1995, after he was selected #1 overall in the baseball draft by California (now Los Angeles).
1B~ Todd Helton~ Colorado–Was once, very briefly, the starting QB for the University of Tennessee. Threw for 484 yards and 4 TD’s in 3 seasons for the Vols. Was a backup to former NFL #1 pick Heath Shuler early in his career. Finally got a shot to start in 1994, but someone named Peyton replaced Helton when he was injured that season and the rest is “history”. That minor injury may have launched two Hall of Fame careers (one in baseball; one in football), as it forced Helton to give up football and look towards baseball fulltime.
1B~ Phil Nevin~ San Diego–First overall pick in the 1992 MLB draft (Houston Astros), was once an impressive kicker and fringe NFL prospect for Cal State Fullerton. Kicked 65 straight PAT’s and a total of 31 FG’s for CSF in the early 1990’s. Came into baseball with a poor attitude and looked like a total “bust” early, until he changed his outlook and turned his career around at the age of 28 (1999).
OF~ Brian Jordan~ Atlanta–Veteran baseball player Jordan was once a budding NFL star. After garnering All-America honors at the University of Richmond, he played three seasons with Atlanta (NFL). He was named Pro Bowl alternate in 1992 and led all NFL DB’s with 193 tackles in 1990. Abruptly switched to baseball fulltime in 1993. Has 180 career HR’s and 806 career RBI’s. Was named to the 1999 NL All-Star game.
OF~ Adam Dunn~ Cincinnati–A budding baseball superstar, Dunn spent time as a QB for the University of Texas, after a stellar high school career, but never took a snap in an actual college game. Was a very highly recruited QB out of high school, but left the Texas program when they tried to move him to TE. Due to Dunn’s dual baseball/football background, he became fast friends with former Texas star RB Ricky Williams, who also used to play minor league baseball.
1B~ Frank Thomas ~ Chicago (A.L)–Looks like a virtual lock as a Major League Hall of Famer, with over 430 career HR’s and 1,440 careers RBI’s. Nonetheless, was once considered a legit TE prospect for Auburn, snagging 3 receptions for 45 yards in 1986, as a true freshman. Might have projected as an NFL prospect, but quit football at 18 years old to concentrate on baseball–a wise move.
OF~ Chris Singleton ~ Tampa Bay– Mostly a fringe baseball player, although he did start for several season for the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore. Was a WR for the University of Nevada, where he had 86 receptions for 1,526 yards and 11 touchdowns from 1990-92. Had 43 receptions for 893 yards and 8 TD’s as a junior. At 6’2″, with decent speed, had an outside shot at an NFL career.
OF~ Quinton McCracken ~ Arizona–Journeyman OF, with only 20 HR’s, 234 RBI’s and 86 stolen bases in 10 MLB seasons. At 5’7″, was a former CB and kick return specialist for Duke University from 1988 to 1991. Once returned an interception for a TD to help Duke defeat North Carolina State in a big ACC upset.
2B~ Eric Young ~ San Diego (DL)– Speedy infielder, in his 14th MLB season, was once an impact WR for the Rutgers Scarlett Knights in the latter part of the 1980’s. As a senior, the 5’8″ speedster had 48 catches for 592 yards and 3TD’s on the football field. For his career, he had 109 catches for 1,380 yards and 9 TD’s for Rutgers. Best MLB season was 1996, when he hit .324, with 53 stolen bases for Colorado. Young had a son in his mid teens, who is now a decent MLB prospect. Eric Jr. and Eric Sr. actually faced each other in a March spring training game.
OF~ Gabe Gross ~ Toronto–Former starting QB for Auburn, left football for good after the 1999 SEC season to concentrate on a promising baseball career. Threw for a total 1,254 yards, with 9 TD’s for Auburn. First round pick by Toronto in the summer of 2001, but has struggled to get to the Majors fulltime due to his propensity to strikeout too much. Hit a grand slam and drove in 5 runs against Oakland in September of 2004. Son of former NFL guard Lee Gross (Baltimore Colts, New Orleans).
One more football note: Did you know that future NFL Hall of Fame safety John Lynch threw the first pitch in history of the Florida Marlins organization on June 15th, 1992? Lynch, a 2nd round pick from Stanford in baseball, was pitching for the Erie Sailors that day against the Jamestown Expos. Remember, the Marlins didn’t play their first Major League game until April of 1993, but their minor leagues operation began in 1992. Lynch was a 3rd round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993 and never took to the mound again after the 1992 baseball season.
R44 is the Head Editor of draftdaddy.com, a Jet Nation affiliated website dedicated to providing premium draft information to die-hard fans of the NFL.