Ohio State Football: The Nate Ebner Story Continues, Now an Olympian

Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of an Ohio State Buckeyes helmet against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of an Ohio State Buckeyes helmet against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Quite a success story for this former Ohio State football player!

Nate Ebner was a long shot to ever walk into The Horeshoe to play for the Ohio State football team. Now he has a Super Bowl ring and has been invited to play for The USA Rugby Team in the Olympics. His journey has been incredible, and inspiring.

If you were to write a movie script along the lines of the success former Ohio State football player Nate Ebner has had, and presented it to a hollywood producer, you would probably be laughed out of the room. The producer would probably think the script is too unbelievable to be true. But in this case it is true.

Ebner was a star rugby player at an early age but he never played football in high school. For some reason Ebner thought he could walk onto the Ohio State football team his junior year at Ohio State and compete against former high school stars. He didn’t just compete, he excelled.

Not only did Ebner make the team but he became a special teams star and played nickel-back. He played so well that Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Paul Haynes had this to say about Ebner after his senior season.

"“He has a passion for being great …. He was probably the most valuable player on that whole team last year.”"

The answer Ebner gave when asked what his favorite special teams unit was will give you an insight as to why he became such a terrific player for the Buckeyes.

"“Kickoff, probably. Because … I just enjoy running down as fast as you can. It’s just mayhem, it’s exciting, it’s crazy. It’s such a rush…. It’s just one big blur, and then it’s over…. Maybe I got a screw loose.”"

Ebner had a strong performance at the Ohio State’s Pro Day and ran a 4.47 second 40. That combined with his excellent play for the Buckeyes, convinced New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to take Ebner in the 6th round of the NFL draft in 2012.

Ebner proved to be a good choice for coach Belichick as he finished his rookie season with the second most tackles of any Patriots’ special teams player in 2012. In 2014, he was an important player on special teams and at nickel-back when the Patriots won the Super Bowl.

Here is what Bill Belichick had to say about Nate Ebner.

"His development has really been outstanding. I would probably put him in the, not the all-time top, but maybe in the top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached, from where they were in college to how they grew in the NFL. [He] has adapted in a relatively short amount of time to the knowledge of our defense, to the understanding of opponents’ offenses, to instinctiveness and reading and recognition at a position that he plays right in the middle of the field, which is among the most difficult – inside linebacker and safety – where the number of things that can happen is the greatest."

Fast forward to 2016, Nate Ebner wanted to go back to his first love and play rugby for the USA in the Olympics. He asked Bill Belichick for his approval to take a leave of absence from the Patriots to pursue his dream and the coach granted it.

Ebner was welcomed to try out for the national rugby team even though he hadn’t played the sport for a few years. However, USA Sevens head coach Mike Friday said he only had a 10 or 20 percent chance of making the team. After strong performances by Ebner in Hong Kong and Singapore on the World Rugby Sevens circuit, his chances improved to 50-50 according to coach Friday.

Ebner had also shared how the New England Patriots used their “common language” on the football field. Coach Friday realized their were communication issues among his players and sought to resolve those issues.

That certainly had an impact on coach Friday as he had this to say:

"“That’s exactly what I wanted from Nate. From being a newbie in the environment, he’d recognised an area we could improve.”"

Now Nate Ebner has been named to the the USA Rugby Team. What if the guy who never played high school football but walked on to play football at Ohio State, and now has a Super Bowl ring, would win an Olympic medal in rugby for Team USA? What a storybook ending that would be. Except this is Nate Ebner we are talking about, and there may be more things to come.

You see, Ebner’s role model while growing up wasn’t a ballplayer but his father who instilled a guiding principle in Nate before he passed away in 2008.

"“My dad stressed finishing strong in every task I did, and conduct myself always in a proper manner.”"

More from Scarlet and Game

Nate Ebner is only 27 years old and is in the prime of his professional career so expect many more great things from the young man. After all, his task is not yet completed.

Would anyone want to bet against Nate Ebner? I certainly wouldn’t.

However, if his career were to end today, it is still a tremendous story about a young man who chased his dreams and was successful in doing so. It is an inspirational story for Buckeyes everywhere.

must read: Ohio State Recruiting: Could J. K. Dobbins Be The Next…?

Much of the information in this article I found at Wikipedia. I suggest you check it out because there are more interesting things about this fine young man.