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New England Patriots' Belichick unearths rugby player in draft

  • By NFL.com
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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is known for unearthing gems late in the NFL draft. On Saturday, he went so far as to look to a different sport, selecting former rugby player Nate Ebner in the sixth round.

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The Patriots took Ebner, a special teams standout at Ohio State, with the 197th overall pick despite the fact that he has played just three snaps on defense.

"We think he has a lot of good football in front of him," Belichick told the Providence Journal. "Of course, we had good connections at Ohio State. Obviously, that played a part in it."

Ebner, who played little football as a youth, is a standout rugby player, a sport he picked up from his late father, the newspaper reported. He was named the most valuable player for his age group at the 2007 and 2008 world championships.

In 2009, the 6-foot, 205-pound Ebner walked on to the Ohio State football team, playing primarily on special teams, although he was listed as a safety.

"I enjoy running down as fast as you can," Ebner told the newspaper. "It's exciting. ... It's just one big blur, then it's over. I don't know, maybe I've got a screw loose."

Ebner said his rugby skills have allowed to him to transition naturally to football.

"It comes from the fact that we hit each other, there's a lot of running and some big dudes," Ebner said.

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