BY SPNW Staff 03:28PM 01/10/2012

Ranking Washington’s Best Multi-Sport Athletes

In the past quarter of a century, only three University of Washington athletes have played football and basketball. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is about to become the fourth.

Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to provide a physical, inside presence for the UW basketball team. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

In the modern era of specialization, the two-sport elite athlete has nearly become a dinosaur. But thanks to University of Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, athletic multi-tasking isn’t dead yet. A freshman on Steve Sarkisian’s football team last fall, Sefarian-Jenkins is joining Lorenzo Romar’s basketball team, and might play as soon as Sunday against Washington State.

Seferian-Jenkins, who made numerous freshman All-America teams this past season, is expected to provide a much-needed inside physical presence to the UW squad. When he sees his first action, he will become the first UW athlete to play varsity football and basketball since Nate Robinson in 2002-03.

“There’s definitely an upside to it,” said Romar. “Right now, we are not as physical a team as we need to be — and that’s the main thing that he does. I’ve got to go back to years ago when Tony Gonzalez played for California. He came out from football and they (the Bears basketball team) became a more physical team — instantly.”

In Gonzalez’s junior year at Cal (1995), he played tight end under Steve Mariucci (made All-America), and then played in 28 basketball games, averaging 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds as Cal reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

“Coach Sark has been fantastic,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “He’s been very supportive to me. He gave me the pros and cons and he just supported me at the end of the day. He’s an honest guy. He promised me when I came to the University of Washington that I would have the opportunity to play both.”

“It takes a tremendous athlete to be able to play football and basketball at the Pac-12 level, and Austin certainly has that sort of ability,” Sarkisian said. “It’s a great opportunity and I fully support him.”

The 6-foot-6, 258-pound Seferian-Jenkins played basketball beginning as a freshman at Gig Harbor High School.

In the past quarter-century, only four athletes have played football and basketball at Washington. Before Robinson, Charles Frederick, a kick returner from 2001-04, played in six 2002 basketball games. Before Frederick, defensive tackle Reggie Rogers (1984-86) played two basketball seasons under Marv Harshman (1983-85).

Whether Sefarian-Jenkins can manage overlapping seasons, given the demands on players made by the programs, remains to be seen. None of the three other athletes just cited could do it simultaneously. Once Robinson joined the UW basketball team, he abandoned his position as a starting cornerback. Frederick gave up on basketball to focus on football. Rogers abandoned basketball to concentrate on football.

Whether Seferian-Jenkins is ultimately forced to choose between the sports, his involvement in each will be fun to watch.

On the subject of multi-sport athletes: Two years ago, Art Thiel and Steve Rudman  of Sportspress Northwest and Mike Gastineau of KJR radio published “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists.” In it, the authors ranked the 10 best multi-sport athletes in state history. Here is the list:

10. Sammy White, basketball, baseball. An All-Northern Division basketball forward at the UW in 1948 and 1949 who helped lead the Huskies to their first NCAA Tournament berth, White was also the leading hitter on the UW baseball team in 1947 and 1948. After graduation, White played for the Seattle Rainiers from 1949 to 1951, then spent nine years in the major leagues as a catcher with the Boston Red Sox (1951-59). He wound up his career with Milwaukee (1961) and Philadelphia (1962). On June 18, 1953, White became the only player in major league history to score three runs in an inning.

9. Sterling Hinds, football, track. As a youth hockey player, Hinds rose to the junior B level, one step below the professional ranks. Recruited to Washington on a football scholarship, Hinds won three letters as a tailback between 1981-83 and also played a prominent role on the UW track team. He ran the second-fastest 100 meters (10.27) in school history, the second-fastest 200 (20.61), and ran the second leg on UW’s 1983 400-meter relay team that finished second in the NCAA track championships. Representing Canada in the 1984 Olympics, he earned a bronze medal in the 400 relay.

8. Ray Frankowski, football, wrestling, fencing. Frankowski gained his greatest athletic fame as a two-time consensus All-America football guard at the UW under coach Jimmy Phelan, and later as a pro with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Dons (All-American Football Conference.) Frankowski also won the 1940 Pacific Coast Conference Northern Division heavyweight wrestling championship and was a member of the UW fencing team.

7. Spider Gaines, football, track. A big-play wide receiver who caught seven touchdown passes of 50 yards or longer during his UW football career (1975-78), Gaines also starred in track. As a high schooler, he won the 1975 California high hurdles title (13.3). In 1976, he won the Pac-8 hurdles title, advanced to the finals of the U.S. Olympic trials, became a two-time All-America and set the UW 110-meter hurdles record at 13:57. Gaines’ biggest track moment occurred in 1977 when he won the hurdles race in the annual USA-USSR outdoor dual meet.

6. Nate Robinson, football, basketball, track. After setting a state hurdles record for the Rainier Beach High track team, the 5-8 Robinson became a freshman starter at cornerback for the 2002 Washington football team. Switching full time to basketball following his freshman season, Robinson developed into a third-team Associated Press All-America and led the Huskies to the round of 16 in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. A first-round draft choice by the New York Knicks, Robinson won three NBA Slam Dunk Contests.

5. Reggie Rogers, football, basketball. A member of two Pac-10 champion basketball teams at Washington (1984 and 1985), Rogers also played in three bowl games (1985 Orange, 1985 Freedom, 1986 Sun) for the Huskies footballers. As a senior in 1986, he was selected a first-team All-America and won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10’s top defensive lineman. The Detroit Lions made him the seventh overall pick in the 1986 draft.

4. Herman Brix, football, track. A Tacoma native, Brix played tackle for three years under Enoch Bagshaw (1923-25) when the Washington Huskies appeared in their first two Rose Bowls. He also won a silver medal in the shot put in the 1928 Olympics, and held both indoor and outdoor world records after the Games while competing for the Los Angeles Track Club. Brix broke his shoulder filming the 1931 football movie “Touchdown,” thwarting his entry into the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, but hastening an acting career in which Brix appeared in more than 100 films under the name Bruce Bennett.

3. Mark Hendrickson, basketball, baseball. A three-sport standout in basketball, baseball and tennis at Mount Vernon High, Hendrickson pitched and played basketball at Washington State University, where he was twice named first-team All-Pac-10 in basketball. After he was selected in the second round of the 1996 NBA draft by Philadelphia, the 6-9 Hendrickson played four years with the 76ers, Kings and Nets before switching to baseball. A left-hander, Hendrickson won 43 games for the Blue Jays, Devil Rays and Dodgers between 2002-07.

2. Johnny and Eddie O’Brien, basketball, baseball. All-America basketball players at Seattle University in the early 1950s, the O’Brien twins later formed the double-play combination for the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates. Johnny, first player in NCAA basketball history to score 1,000 points in a season (1953), had a six-year major league career while Eddie played five seasons.

1. Gene Conley, basketball, baseball. A Washington State All-America in basketball and baseball, Conley pitched for 11 years (1952-63) in the major leagues with the Braves, Phillies and Red Sox, winning 91 games, and also played for six years (1952-64) with the Boston Celtics. Conley won a World Series ring with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, three NBA championship rings with the Celtics (1959-62), and was the winning pitcher in the 1955 MLB All-Star Game.

Honorable Mention (Listed Alphabetically)

  • Ja’Warren Hooker, UW, football, track: A wide receiver and kick returner, Hooker was also an NCAA champion and 10-time (UW record) All-American in track. He won the NCAA 55-meter championship, twice won Pac-10 titles in both the 100 and 200 meters, and still holds the school’s 100-meter record (10.18, 1998).
  • Paul Jessup, UW, football, track: A three-year letterman tackle on the UW football team (1927-29), Jessup set a world record in the discus in 1930 (169-8) when he won the NCAA championship in the event. Jessup also threw the discus in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.
  • Lawyer Milloy, UW, football, baseball: A consensus All-America safety at Washington (1995), Milloy also played on the Husky baseball team. He holds the distinction of hitting home runs in the first and last at-bats of his UW career.
  • Isaiah Stanback, UW, football, track: Washington’s quarterback in 2005 and 2006, Stanback placed fifth in the 100 meters at the 2005 Pac-10 Track Championships and ranks among UW’s all-time top 10 in the 60- and 100-meter dashes.
  • Dave Williams, UW, football, track: An all-conference tight end on the Husky football team (1965-67), Williams still holds school TE records for yards in a game (257 vs. UCLA, 1965), TDs in a game (3 vs. UCLA, 1965) and TDs in a season (10, 1965). A hurdler and jumper in track, he regularly competed in four events for the UW track team (four-time All-America) and, as a freshman, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the decathlon.

Notable Football/Basketball Athletes

Many football players have taken up track and field as a second sport, while numerous basketball players have also played baseball. Perhaps due to overlapping seasons, the football-basketball combination is rare. Notables who played both sports (listed alphabetically):

  • Terry Baker: Here’s a quick quiz – How many football players have won the Heisman Trophy and played in the Final Four in the same school year? Terry Baker (1962 Heisman) did it for Oregon State, which reached the Final Four in 1963 with Baker as a point guard.
  • Cris Carter: Carter played basketball and football at Ohio State University before becoming an NFL All-Pro receiver.
  • Antonio Gates: An all-conference basketball player at Kent State, Gates became an All-Pro tight end for the San Diego Chargers.
  • Tony Gonzalez: Perhaps the best tight end in NFL history, Gonzalez played forward on the University of California basketball team in 1997 when the Bears qualified for the NCAA Division 1 Tournament.
  • Donovan McNabb: Another quick quiz — How many people have started at quarterback in the Super Bowl and played in the Final Four? Donovan McNabb (Syracuse University) has.
  • Antwaan Randle El: How many wide receivers in the NFL were recruited by Bobby Knight? Randle El was, to play point guard. He did that for a year, before committing to play quarterback at Indiana. He later became an NFL receiver.
  • Julius Peppers: Peppers played on a North Carolina basketball team as a power forward and later became an NFL All-Pro defensive end.

Top Draft Picks

  • Dave Logan: Played nine NFL seasons, primarily for the Cleveland Browns. After a collegiate career at the University of Colorado, Logan was drafted by the Browns (1976, NFL), Sacramento Kings (NBA) and Cincinnati Reds (MLB).
  • Dave Winfield: Baseball Hall of Famer was drafted by four professional teams in three different sports – basketball (Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and Utah Stars pf the ABA), baseball (San Diego Padres) and American football (Minnesota Vikings).

Scholarship Offers

  • Carl Crawford: Red Sox outfielder was offered a basketball scholarship by UCLA and a football scholarship by Nebraska.

YourThoughts

  • http://twitter.com/alldayberg Samantha Berg

    Lawyer Milloy Football Camp at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA on July 14-17
    Visit footballcamps.com or call 301-575-9400

  • http://twitter.com/alldayberg Samantha Berg

    Lawyer Milloy Football Camp at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA on July 14-17
    Visit footballcamps.com or call 301-575-9400

  • Bruce Kitts

    From the 1950s:

    Doug McClary was a 3-year letterman in both football and basketball at the UW and was a member of the Husky team that placed 3rd in the NCAA basketball tournament.

    Doyle Perkins was a 3-year letterman in both basketball and tennis at the UW, an unusual combination.
     

  • Bruce Kitts

    From the 1950s:

    Doug McClary was a 3-year letterman in both football and basketball at the UW and was a member of the Husky team that placed 3rd in the NCAA basketball tournament.

    Doyle Perkins was a 3-year letterman in both basketball and tennis at the UW, an unusual combination.
     

  • Phil

    Ray Evans was an All America half back and defensive back and two time All America basketball guard at Kansas in the 1940′s.  Played professional football with the Steelers.

  • Phil

    Ray Evans was an All America half back and defensive back and two time All America basketball guard at Kansas in the 1940′s.  Played professional football with the Steelers.

  • Matt712

    You will eat your garlic fries and like it. The next closest MLB team is over a thousand miles away. And while you might be free to root for anyone in the league, you’ll have to tighten your sphincter at your cable bill even more to see ‘em on a regular basis. Know where I’m going yet? It’s all about TV contracts folks. That is where the dough comes from. And that dough is only going to keep rising. You know why? Ever try ‘Tevo’ a game to watch it later? Yeah, me neither. …Don’t expect the M’s to do anything extraordinary, money-wise, until 2015 when they opt out of their current TV contract. In the mean time, head down to the ballpark on a breezy NW evening, watch some nice kids boot some balls around and whiff at some others, have a beer or two to go with those fries, and maybe even take home your very own Bobblehead. C’mon… Ya know ya wanna.

    • Artthiel

      Good points, Matt. But did you think about the possibility of consumer backlash against higher cable fees for sports might just put an end to ever increasing TV revs? It may be that the Rangers and Angels TV deals caught the last train that’s leaving the station. Think of it a bit like the housing bubble — everyone thought that the increase in value of housing was virtually infinite.

  • One174

    When a guy like Figgins consistently hits .200 why not let him rot on the bench? I suppose someone with real baseball knowledge will just shake his head at my ignorance and give me some baseball wisdom to explain why, but I just don’t get it. So what if he has a big salary? So what if they can’t get rid of him? Why play him game after game when some kid is waiting in the wings? Why send a guy up to the plate with a bat in his hands when they KNOW he is not going to hit? It is a model that would not work in any other business.

    • Bert

      You are mistaken. You confuse ‘winning’ with economic success. Let me just remind you that George Argyros ran a profitable team while losing 95 to100 games per year.

      • Artthiel

        True enough about Argyros. Now that the bloom is fully off Safeco as the sole reason to attend, the revenue slump mandates success, just when success has reached a higher level in the AL West. Mariners are counting on all kids delivering at once in 2012. Tall order.

      • Artthiel

        True enough about Argyros. Now that the bloom is fully off Safeco as the sole reason to attend, the revenue slump mandates success, just when success has reached a higher level in the AL West. Mariners are counting on all kids delivering at once in 2012. Tall order.

  • Herb Huseland

    Well, I saved the ame 214 Million by not signing Fielder. Fielder remines me of a great hitter that once played for the Mariners. At the last gasp, he got so fat he could whip the bat  around at warp speed like he used to. Fileder, if he puts on another 20 or so pounds will be the whale in the Detriot dugout. Plu, Fielder was never Junior.

  • Herb Huseland

    Re a subject that has been over worked, in the speech that the Nike president, gave at a service for Joe Paterno, he revealed that the information that was passed to Joe Pa reached the athletic director, the president of the University,AND the campus police. I(f you consider that the campus police had both the powers of arrest and was much larger that the small town the schol resided in, it would appear that the blame remains at the top. 

  • Herb Huseland

    Why, with Boeing, Microsoft and probably a few other billionaires in Seattle can’t we find enough money to buy the NBA team that is broke and the league is running. That could lso apply to the cash limited ownership in Japan of the mariners. I don’t blame the president of the team. It’s the Japanese owner that sets the budget. 

  • Jim

    Good luck to you guys, I truly hope it’s your year and you get 25-30 HRs out of Montero, and Ichiro gets back to 200+ hits. I will watch with interest from afar. I moved to DC in April last year, so I missed the 2011 season, though I did see a game on TV, with Pineda pitching, in a Gaithersburg MD brewpub with Roots sports on—that was some cognitive dissonance, for sure. Time for me to to get behind the other loser (i.e, winner) in the Princely sum sweepstakes, the Nats. Pitchers and catchers reporting in…

  • RadioGuy

    “One of the NFL’s most reliable players?”  Marshawn Lynch?  Really?  The same Marshawn Lynch that Buffalo was willing to let go with over a year on his contract because he was such an underachiever for the Bills?  The same Marshawn Lynch who was a dog in Seattle until he began his salary drive the last few weeks of the 2011 season?  That Marshawn Lynch?

    Hey, if he plays as hard now that he’s got $18 million guaranteed, I’ll come back here to SPNW and publicly make a mea culpa.  I’m just not as convinced as others seem to be that he’ll put up the same numbers now that he’s got the kind of contract he wanted.  Benoit Benjamin used to do the same thing:  Big Ben would sign a contract for 3 years and play like Fido for the first 2-and-a-half years, then play well enough down the stretch to get another big 3-year deal the following offseason.

  • Grover

    Running backs are a dime a dozen.  Giving any running back a big guaranteed contract is stupid, let alone an imminently ordinary running back like Marshawn Lynch.

    Spend your big bucks on linemen, receivers, and a quarterback.  Don’t waste money, especially guaranteed money, on a running back.

    Stupid mistake.

  • Bert

    Supercharge, I never said anything about other potential signings. This article was about Fielder. And Art’s earlier posts concerning free agent hitters’ lack of interest in Safeco should apply to all those second tier sluggers, too. I’m not crazy about the way the team has been run – but you can’t say, on the one hand, hitters won’t sign with the Ms, while on the other hand, complain that the team doesn’t sign hitters. If you believe the park is that much of a disincentive, then that needs to be changed. Then we can talk about the cheapskate owners.

  • Artthiel

    Super, as I pointed out, the payoff with young guys is supposed to be that they bring you close to a championship with contracts under club control. But if you keep trading them in their primes, the team treads water at best.

  • Jordan

    It wasn’t Art, it was Steve Rudman who wrote the article about Safeco being a deterrent.  And the risk of changing the field is they may have built their team based around how it currently is.  You would surely make a lot of star pitchers upset if you told them it is now a hitters’ park.

  • Artthiel

    The Mariners won’t change the park, so they have to keep investing in pitching and defense, which can work. But they need two home-grown sluggers with six years until free agency. That’s why Montero is so large in their futures.

  • Artthiel

    Last year’s attendance figures suggest you are part of a growing crowd outside the building.

  • Artthiel

    Exactly. And while changing dimensions could help some, they can’t change the cool weather through July 4, which retards the flight of the ball significantly.

  • Artthiel

    Learn to live with it. Yes, Burt. Steve was right however — even though lefties numbers will fractionally be better at safeco, it’s not enough to overcome other issues, such as Seattle’s distance from the rest of baseball as well as the players homes. 

  • Artthiel

    Fans need to exercise the wallet option. Biggest weapon.

  • Artthiel

    Ownership did not want to pay him, and Fielder did not want to be here anyway. That’s why they desperately wanted Montero.