Football Players Who Played College Basketball


So much is said about the college basketball players who became NFL players, mostly tight ends. A few were good college basketball players, but most were average.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Tony Gonzalez’s basketball ability. His college stats tell a different story. I know he played football which took away from his basketball time, but he only averaged 6.4 points per game in three years at Cal. Until I saw his stats I thought he was good enough to play in the NBA strictly based off what analysts have said.

Julius Peppers played two years of basketball at North Carolina and he wasn’t bad. He only averaged 5.7 points per game in his career, but he did have some memorable moments. Peppers scored in the 2000 Final Four and scored 21 points in a 2001 NCAA tournament game. He had some monster dunks that you can watch on Youtube.

Antonio Gates first enrolled at Michigan State because he wanted to play football under then head coach Nick Saban and basketball under head coach Tom Izzo. Saban didn’t want Gates to play basketball so Gates went to Eastern Michigan. After a season at EMU and time in community college, Gates transferred to Kent State. He thrived at Kent State and helped them to the Elite Eight. In his career Gates averaged 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. In four career NCAA tournament games, Gates averaged 18.8 points per game. At just 6’4, Gates was deemed too small for the NBA. Because he was athletic and a good high school football player, he worked out and was immediately signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers. Out of all the players in the NFL, I think that Gates is the best basketball player.

Jimmy Graham played 120 career games for the University of Miami basketball program where he only averaged 4.2 points per game. In a 2008 NCAA Tournament game, Graham scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in a 78-64 win over St. Mary’s. He never really did anything impressive. I would like to stop hearing about him and basketball.

Julius Thomas was a very efficient basketball player at Portland State. He shot 66.3 percent which is one of the highest. In the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, Thomas scored four points in Portland State’s loss to eventual national champion Kansas. He averaged 6.8 points per game in his career, but had an exceptional senior season by averaging 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Overall, these are the best players that played college basketball and are currently active in the NFL. Honorable mentions are Kendall Wright, Martellus Bennett and Jordan Cameron.

You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP

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