By Chris Mahr
Watching the action unfold from London each night hasn’t just deprived me of sleep for the past week and a half. It has also got me thinking about how some of the star Olympic athletes would fit in on the college gridiron or hardwood.
Today, I take five Olympic athletes from three different countries and speculate what their position would be on a college football team. On Thursday, I’ll do the same but with college basketball.
Quarterback: Tony Azevedo, USA, Water Polo
Peyton Manning and his “laser, rocket arm” would be have to be impressed with a first-hand glimpse of Azevedo.
Like Manning, Azevedo is capable of making all the throws. Rockets from distance, soft touch goals just out of reach of opposing goaltenders, skip throws into the corners, you name it. He did it at Stanford (a school-record 252 goals) and continues to do it with the U.S. national team and professionally in Europe.
And while Manning didn’t win the Heisman at Tennessee, Azevedo won water polo’s version of it, the Peter J. Cutino Award, four times.
RB/WR/KR/PR: Jessica Ennis, Great Britain, Heptathlon
Just like Oregon’s D’Anthony Thomas and Michigan’s Desmond Howard, Ennis has the ability to score in a variety of ways. Thomas and Howard ran, caught and returned their scores. Meanwhile Ennis — the 2012 gold medalist in the heptathlon — is even more impressive overall.
Speed? Ennis ran the 100-meter hurdles in 12.54 seconds and the 200 meters in 22.83 seconds. Strength? She threw the shot put 14.28 meters. Agility? She high-jumped 1.86 meters and long-jumped 6.48 meters.
You wouldn’t know where Ennis would line up, but she would be a threat to scoring from anywhere.
Linebacker: Justin Gatlin, USA, Sprints
If Gatlin is capable of running 100 meters in 9.79 seconds, think about how fast he could close in on ball-carriers and receivers on the gridiron.
It’s dangerous for me to say this in light of his four-year ban, but Gatlin’s muscles are just eye-popping. Among all the finalists from Sunday’s 100-meter dash, he was easily the one person I would be terrified to see running straight at me.
Wide Receiver: Usain Bolt, Jamaica, Sprints
As fast as “The Gatlin Gun” can go, he’s no Lightning Bolt.
The double gold medalist in the 100 meters proved on Sunday that the gap between him and the rest of the field, while closing, is still considerable. Think of how well he’d be able to accelerate from helpless defensive backs. And at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, he could (if taught properly) out-jump them, too.
Add to that Bolt’s penchant for goofing around and dancing and he even has the persona of a wide receiver. His TD celebrations would be epic.
Kickers have to have ice water in their veins, going long stretches without touching the ball but delivering when they do. Alex Morgan’s game-winning goal against Canada on Monday epitomizes that. (That she scored on a header is beside the point.)
Think of it as a real-life version of Necessary Roughness. Instead of Kathy Ireland trying to split the uprights, you would have Morgan. She wouldn’t be in body paint, but it’d still be a sight to behold.
Chris Mahr is the managing editor of LostLettermen.com. His column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can follow him on Twitter at @CMahrtian.