Commentary

Many draft prospects had impressive careers on the court

Updated: April 24, 2009, 8:36 PM ET
By Mark Tennis | ESPNRISE.com

If you're a fan of athletes who excel in more than one sport and want to know which former grid-hoopers -- guys who excelled in football and basketball -- in high school figure to be the hottest prospects in this weekend's NFL draft, look no further than wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

The Texas Tech standout, who is picked to go at No. 5 in the first round by ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, was so good at both sports when he attended Carter High in Dallas that he was ranked among the nation's top 50 college recruits in both sports.

Crabtree wasn't even a wide receiver when he played football at Carter. Like many with his type of athleticism, Crabtree was a quarterback as a senior for the Cowboys. He passed for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns while running for 646 yards and nine TDs.

When Crabtree took his recruiting trip to Texas Tech, he was asked by then-Red Raiders basketball coach Bobby Knight which sport he was going to choose. It looks like he picked the right one, but that basketball background definitely aided in his development.

Here is a look at some more former grid-hoop prep standouts who should go quickly in this weekend's NFL draft (all listed in alphabetical order):

[+] EnlargeMichael Crabtree
AP Photo/Deborah CannonMichael Crabtree was a top basketball player coming out of high school.

Editor's note: While there are many players in the draft who played both basketball and football, the players below were selected because they played both sports through their senior years and were at least all-league-type players in basketball.

Travis Beckum (Wisconsin) TE
At Oak Creek High (Wis.), Beckum was a three-year varsity basketball performer who was tough to stop on the interior. In football, he was a four-year varsity standout, with two all-state selections. Beckum was the leading tackler in the U.S. Army All-American Game. He switched to tight end from linebacker for the Badgers in 2005.

Chase Coffman (Missouri) TE
Catching passes from his brother, Carson, at Raymore-Peculiar High in Peculiar, Mo., Coffman was a three-time first-team all-state selection. He went straight from the gridiron to the court his junior and senior year where he was a first-team all-conference selection. His dad, Paul Coffman, played in the NFL from 1978 to '87 with the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.

[+] EnlargeTravis Beckum
AP Photo/Eric GayTravis Beckum shined in the Army All-American Game.

Nate Davis (Ball State) QB
At Bellaire High in Ohio, Davis enjoyed one of the best grid-hoop careers of any athlete in Ohio history. He played basketball on the varsity as a freshman and was a frequent 20-point scorer. Davis wrapped up his basketball career with more than 2,000 points and broke a school career record that had stood for 50 years. In football, he was a three-time all-state pick who passed for 7,348 yards and 81 touchdowns.

Larry English (Northern Illinois) DE
English played three years of varsity football and basketball at Marmion Academy (Aurora, Ill.), before heading to join the defense at Northern Illinois. English had 98 tackles and six sacks as a senior co-captain and earned multiple honors. He also was captain of the basketball team and earned all-conference status.

Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech) DE
At Dallas County High in Plantersville, Ala., Johnson was a double-double machine in basketball. He averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game in his junior season. In football, Johnson was the team captain and was regarded as one of the nation's top high school tight ends with 42 receptions for 650 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.

[+] EnlargeNate Davis
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteNate Davis compiled one of the best grid-hoop careers in Ohio history.

Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) WR
Another wideout expected to go among the first 10 in the first round is Maclin. At Kirkwood (Mo.) High, Maclin was recognized in both sports. In football, he was an all-state wideout with 41 receptions in his senior year for 1,042 yards and 11 TDs. In basketball, he was an honorable-mention all-state selection and first-team all-league with 11.5 points, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

D.J. Moore (Vanderbilt) CB
At Broome High in Spartanburg, S.C., he earned all-state honors three times on the hardwood and averaged a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds per game. As a junior, Moore helped the Centurions win a state title in their division. In football, Moore was MVP in a state championship win. He had six interceptions and returned three punts for touchdowns in his senior season.

Alphonso Smith (Wake Forest) CB
At famed Pahokee (Fla.) High, Smith led the Blue Devils to the state championship in football, and was the title-game MVP, as well. Smith also was runner-up for state player of the year honors after throwing for more than 2,400 yards and 32 touchdowns in his high school career. After playing in two all-star games, Smith headed back to the basketball court where he was a standout point guard.

Mark Tennis is the deputy sports editor of ESPN RISE.

ALSO SEE