The Patriots officially announced that they have re-signed safety Nate Ebner on Tuesday, but football won’t be his only athletic pursuit this offseason.
Ebner’s football career did not begin until he walked onto the Ohio State team during his junior year because he had been a top-flight rugby player before that point. Ebner made the U.S. national rugby sevens team when he was 17 and continued to play internationally during his first two years of college before switching to the gridiron.
Ebner will temporarily reverse that change this offseason. Ebner has been granted time off from the Patriots to train with the U.S. team in the coming months as they prepare for the Rio Summer Olympics in August.
“First and foremost, I want to thank the Patriots from top to bottom for giving me the opportunity to come back and play for a truly first class organization,” Ebner said, via Adam Schefter of ESPN. “I also want to thank them and USA Rugby for giving me the opportunity to chase a dream I’ve had since I was a boy in a sport in which I’ve always had a passion. I can’t put into words how much this opportunity means to not only me, but my friends and family as well. I plan to represent the Patriots and our country to the best of my ability. Thanks again and Go Pats and go USA.”
The Olympic rugby competition will take place from August 6-11 and, assuming he makes the team, Ebner is expected to rejoin the Patriots in training camp after its conclusion.