At a time when it seems as if more and more high school athletes are focusing on one sport year-round, an interesting statistic has emerged showing the value of participating in more than one sport at the prep level.
Tracking Football, a recruiting and athletic analytics site, found that 30 of 32 players picked in the first round of Thursday night's NFL Draft — and 222 of the 253 of the players selected in all seven rounds — were multi-sport athletes in high school.
The site also breaks down which sport every prospect played, with 63 percent having competed in track and field; 46 percent played basketball; 8 percent played baseball; 4 percent played a non-traditional sport such as hockey, rugby, soccer, tennis or volleyball; 3 percent wrestled; and 2 percent played lacrosse.
Each one of Ohio State's seven draft picks participated in a secondary sport in high school, something that shouldn't come as a surprise under head coach Urban Meyer. Since he arrived in Columbus, 119 of the 145 recruits he's signed have played multiple sports in high school.
|NAME||ADDITIONAL SPORT(s)||ROUND (overall)|
|MARSHON LATTIMORE||TRACK AND FIELD||ONE (11)|
|MALIK HOOKER||BASKETBALL, TRACK AND FIELD||ONE (15)|
|GAREON CONLEY||BASKETBALL, TRACK AND FIELD||ONE (24)|
|CURTIS SAMUEL||TRACK AND FIELD||TWO (40)|
|RAEKWON MCMILLAN||BASKETBALL||TWO (54)|
|PAT ELFLEIN||TRACK AND FIELD, WRESTLING||THREE (70)|
|NOAH BROWN||BASKETBALL||SEVEN (239)|
Meyer, who played college football and minor league baseball, is among those who have publicly criticized year-round specialization. And for good reason, as studies show the rate of injury is significantly higher for those teenagers who devote all of their time and energy into one sport while their bodies are still developing.
He was particularly upset when his daughter Gigi, the middle child of three, gave up basketball in high school to participate in volleyball year-round. His wife, Shelley, was adamant such a commitment was necessary in order to succeed at the college level.
"I was very disappointed when my daughter — I don't know if now is the time to talk about it — but when I was told that she had to play volleyball year-round because I think you should play multiple sports," Meyer said during his Fiesta Bowl press conference in December. "My son plays baseball [and] football, and I always like the athletes that play more than one sport."
Gigi became a four-year starter at Florida Gulf Coast, following in the footsteps of her older sister, Nicki, who played volleyball at Georgia Tech. Nate, Meyer's youngest and only son, will play baseball at Cincinnati in 2019.
That said, the debate over sports specialization will certainly continue — even in the Meyer household. But there's no denying the benefits of playing multiple sports and how coaches and scouts view those who do.