The Santa Clara
April 13, 2017
No athlete could seamlessly transition to another sport, but a few are so immensely talented that you can’t help but imagine what could have been had they chosen to pursue a different sport while they were younger.
Lebron James – Tight End
James was reportedly recruited by Urban Meyer at Florida and other major D1 programs until he focused solely on basketball his senior year. His ability was so unique that James’ high school defensive coordinator—11-year NFL veteran Mark Murphy—said he was one of the best receivers he had ever witnessed, in the same breath as NFL greats Jerry Rice and Steve Largent.
At 6’8”, James has all the tools to be a legit NFL tight end—massive hands, explosive speed and a 44-inch vertical. He is the best athlete on the planet. It is also worth noting that the tight-end position has been a natural transition for former basketball players—Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez all played collegiate basketball and went on to become superstar NFL tight ends. We can only fantasize about LeBron James being a red zone nightmare for NFL defenses on Sundays.
Russell Westbrook – (Soccer) Forward
Westbrook absolutely terrorizes NBA defenses and his incredible vision and athleticism has him looking like the favorite to win the MVP this year. His explosiveness and footwork would make him just as lethal with a soccer ball at his feet. Defenders couldn’t contain him on the ground because of his elusiveness, or in the air as his ridiculous vertical would give him an advantage to be first to meet the ball. Westbrook simply has the swagger of a goal scorer and would be a handful for defenders racing down the soccer field. He could have been one of the great US forwards had he focused on soccer.
Tony Romo – Point Guard
The recently retired Romo is an extraordinary athlete, even more than most people would expect from a pro-bowl quarterback. According to Caron Butler, a 14-year NBA veteran and high school opponent of Romo’s, the NFL QB “could have easily been a professional basketball player.”
Romo averaged 24 points per game in high school and remains the all-time leading scorer in Burlington High School history with 1,080 points—which merited recruitment from mid-major universities. As a quarterback—the “point guard” on the football field—Romo’s vision would be a tremendous asset on the basketball court.
Cam Newton – Pitcher
Newton’s athleticism translates well to a number of sports, but his stature and effortless throwing ability would make him a dominant force on the pitcher’s mound. In 2014, NFL.com rated Cam Newton as having the sixth strongest arm in the entire NFL. In a league with numerous former baseball players as quarterbacks—Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson to name a couple—Newton certainly has the tools to succeed.
Pitchers that are Newton’s size have the leverage to throw at a different level of dominance (think Adam Wainwright—6’7”). No hitter would feel confident stepping into the batter’s box on the other end of Newton’s gaze. If Cam had gone the baseball route, he’d be closing out games in the MLB.
Ben Epstein is a senior finance major.