Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham were all former Division I basketball players before developing into some of the best tight ends in the NFL.
Sammis Reyes is aiming to become the next athlete to make the transition. He'll begin his football career with the Washington Football Team, who announced his signing Tuesday.
Reyes (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) grew up in Chile before moving to the United States when he was 14 years old and starred at North Broward Prep in Florida. The football coaches there begged Reyes to play both sports, and he even went through a few practices as a tight end. Ultimately, though, he thought his future was in basketball, and getting injured on the football field would hinder his chances at the next level. He never ended up playing a game.
Only after playing sparingly at Tulane for two seasons did Reyes give football a legitimate shot.
"I wanted to go to the NBA; that was my dream my entire childhood, and of course it never happened," Reyes told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "So when I was 23, my current agent, my family and my close friends, they were like, ... 'You've got to give this football thing a shot. You're fast, you're strong, you're powerful.' So my friends, my best friends, and everybody around me convinced me to give it a shot."
Reyes' shot at the NFL was supposed to come through the International Player Pathway Program, which aims to provide athletes with the opportunity to compete at the professional level. Reyes, along with 10 others, spent the last 10 weeks training at IMG Academy in Florida and then worked out in front of scouts at the University of Florida's Pro Day on March 31.
Players awarded spots in the program will then be allocated to teams in one division chosen at random. (Washington received defensive lineman David Bada a year ago.) If these players do not make the 53-man roster following training camp, the assigned teams will receive a practice squad exemption to keep them throughout the season.
However, Reyes was so impressive during his Pro Day that Washington's scouts decided snag him before the program even concluded.
Reyes, 25, will join a tight ends room that currently includes Logan Thomas and Marcus Baugh. Other former Division I basketball players currently playing tight end include Graham (Chicago Bears), Mo Alie-Cox (Indianapolis Colts) and Darren Fells (free agent).