20 January 2007

WR Jeff Samardzija Turns His Back on 2007 NFL Draft

Notre Dame Wide Receiver Jeff Samardzija has decided to forget football and focus on baseball. "Obviously it took some time," Samardzija said Friday evening. "It wasn't necessarily out of the blue. Things just kind of add up."

Samardzija is a right handed pitcher, and was the Chicago Cubs' fifth-round pick in last year's amateur draft. He made seven starts for their Class A teams at Boise and Peoria last summer, posting a 2.70 ERA. Don't worry, Jeff Samardzija will not have to trade in his Cadillac Escalade with this decision. His will collect a nice $2.5 million signing bonus and the Cubs hold options for a sixth and seventh seasons in 2012 and 2013. If the options are exercised, the deal would be worth $16.5 million over seven years.

Samardzija claims he is done with football, but is headed for a brutal stint in the minor leagues, probably starting for Class A Daytona after spring training. The deal also includes a no-trade clause.

Does anyone remember former Michigan quarterback Drew Henson, he also initially tried baseball, but changed his mind later and was drafted by the NFL's Houston Texans in the 6th round, and later traded to the Dallas Cowboys? After a stint in NFL Europe last year, the Cowboys gave up on Henson in favor of Tony Romo, and the last I heard Henson was trying ot for the Vikings and Patriots.

I think there is a decent chance some NFL team will still draft Samadzija at the end of the draft in order to retain his rights. He was an incredible football talent and would have been a mid-to-late 1st round draft pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Jeff has outstanding size at 6 foot, 5 inches tall, and 218 pounds, and he was very productive for Notre Dame catching 78 passes for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns. Opposing defenses knew he was going to get the ball, but still couldn't stop him.

After a year or two playing baseball he might realize football is his true calling and the NFL team that has his rights will have a wide receiver gem on their hands. But obviously, like every NFL Draft pick, there is a risk, if baseball does work out for him, the team that drafted him will have wasted a pick.

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