Football players who played basketball are quite common as the two-sport athlete rises to the top in many cases. Football players often play baseball because it is the least physical of all the major sports, but there are a fair number of men who played basketball and football in college. This article shares five men who played basketball in college, but that fact may have slipped the minds of some fans. Fans who love football hear talk of a certain player having the jumping ability of a basketball player, but that player was rarely a two-sport athlete in college.
#1: Julius Peppers
Julius Peppers played a couple seasons of basketball at North Carolina before devoting himself to football full-time. He made the right decision as he is still one of the most-dominant defensive players in football. Getting a basketball scholarship at UNC is not easy, but Peppers has the size and physicality to play a hard defensive role on any team. He came in the top ten of Heisman voting his last year in college, and that may indicate why football was the right choice.
#2: Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates is mentioned as a basketball player more often than not because he uses his size to catch the ball over defenders as he runs routes. He is a star tight end with the Chargers, but he was a basketball player with potential in another life. He is one of the great basketball players in Kent State history, but his upside as a football player saw him take a trip to San Diego that has not yet ended. His physical skill is unmatched at the position, and his jumping prowess as a basketball player makes him a dangerous receiver.
#3: Quentin Rollins
Quentin Rollins was a standout basketball player for Miami of Ohio before he came to the NFL. Miami is better known for being the home of Ben Roethlisberger, but Rollins was a fine basketball player who spent four seasons with the team. He made the choice to play football when he had a chance, and he has not looked back. He is a compact man who has quickness that was built on the basketball court. The game itself often trains men to do things that specialty football players cannot do.
#4: Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson is an excellent receiver who gets his share of praise for making plays. He does so effortlessly, and his size makes him a terrible match-up for most defenders. Jackson walked on at the University of Northern Colorado, and he became quite a good basketball player in his time. Football seems to have chosen him due to fate, but the skills he learned as a basketball player show in his game as a player in the NFL.
#5: Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham receives nothing but praise for his performance as a tight end in the NFL. He is a highly-touted player who went to the Seahawks in a blockbuster trade with the Saints. He was a basketball player at Miami long ago, and he uses his fleet feet honed on the basketball court to elude defenders after catching the ball. He has the athletic ability of a football player, but he has the deft touch of a basketball player.
These players on this list are unique athletes who play two sports with ease. They all chose football over basketball in much the same way Charlie Ward chose basketball after winning the Heisman Trophy. Their careers are aided by their time on the hardwood, but fans may forget that these men were once shooting the rock every night.