Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Friday, January 19

Samardzija Passes On NFL For Baseball

Jeff Samardzija didn’t wait for the NFL draft. Not when the Chicago Cubs offered the Notre Dame wide receiver a five-year deal worth a reported $10 million that likely will leave him financially comfortable for the rest of his life.

Unless, of course, he hires Mike Tyson as his business manager.

Anyway, Samardzija has decided to give up his football career and concentrate solely on pitching. He will report to the Cubs spring training camp in Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 14.

Why forego his NFL prospects?

“I have concluded that playing two sports professionally is impossible,” Samardzija said in a statement.

Samardzija was Chicago’s fifth-round selection last summer. He made seven starts and posted a 2.70 earned run average. Baseball America rated him as the Cubs’ fourth-best pitching prospect.

In football for the Irish this season, he caught 78 passes for 1,017 yards. As a junior, he set school records for touchdown catches (15) and yards receiving (1,249).

“I understand some people may be skeptical of my intentions,” he said. “I cannot lie. Leaving football will not be easy. But playing baseball is my first love. It is what I want to do for a living.”
At least for now, Samardzija insists he’s done with football, although if baseball doesn’t work out, who knows what might happen.

“This does not mean I have lost my passion for (football),” he said. “I will always love football. My four years at Notre Dame were amazing. I could not have asked more from my teammates, our fans and our coaches. I appreciate fully that another amazing experience awaited me in the NFL.”

Instead, that experience looms in baseball. And that’s not bad.


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