Oakland Athletics right-hander Jeff Samardzija has emerged as one of the top pitchers in baseball, but it wasn’t all that long ago that he was picturing himself in a New England Patriots jersey, catching passes from Tom Brady.
As a two-sport star at the University of Notre Dame, Samardzija reached a fork in the road, having to decide between pursuing a career on the gridiron or a career on the diamond. Although his love for baseball eventually won out, the All-Star revealed to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford during the break, that if he had chosen football, he might have taken his talents to Foxboro.
The 6-foot-5 Samardzija hauled in 155 passes for 2,266 yards and 27 touchdowns during his last two seasons with the Fighting Irish, putting up numbers that were more than enough to have many believe that the wide receiver could be a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
The Patriots were the logical landing spot for the wideout, and it appears they were willing to do what it would have taken to bring him to New England. With Charlie Weis, who served as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator from 2000-2004, at the helm of Notre Dame at the time, Samardzija was already running the offense that has been so notoriously difficult for rookies to pick up over the years.
“Well, Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator for the Patriots for their Super Bowl runs for a number of years, so he just brought the whole Patriots’ offense to Notre Dame and we started running that for a couple of years,” Samardzija told Bradford. “Where I was projected to go in the draft was a little earlier than where the Patriots were picking, obviously their perennial 30, 31, 32 pick. I was hoping to be a little before that.
“The word from coach and other guys was that they were going to try and trade up to try and get me based on the fact it would be a seamless transition into their offense considering I already ran it. That was about all I heard, but obviously it never got to that point.”
It never got to that point because Samardzija was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft, eventually signing a five-year, $10 million contract with the ballclub that effectively ended his prospect of playing under Bill Belichick.
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