CFP National Championship teams rich with multi-sport athletes

January 6, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingFootball
There is no shortage of athletes or parents who believe that sport specialization provides the best chance of succeeding at the next level, but evidence consistently suggests they’re wrong.

Clemson and Alabama meet Monday in the CFP National Championship.
Clemson and Alabama meet Monday in the CFP National Championship.

Every so often we take a look at the number of multi-sport athletes playing with some of college’s top programs. Clemson and Alabama meet Monday in the 2016 CFP National Championship, and both teams have heavily recruited athletes with experience in more than one sport.

According to, 85% of Clemson’s recruits since the 2012 season have included multi-sport athletes, with Alabama coming in at 86%. Here is a closer look at the backgrounds of the players:

Clemson (85% total)

  • 60% track and field
  • 45% basketball
  • 10% baseball
  • 3% wrestling

Alabama (86% total)

  • 59% track and field
  • 45% basketball
  • 10% baseball
  • 4% wrestling

This isn’t to say that single-sport athletes can’t excel at the next level, but it’s apparent that playing more than one sport provides athletes the best chance to do so. College coaches themselves have said they prefer to recruit athletes who play multiple sports.

The Pro Bowl is also a great example of the benefits of multi-sport participation, as each year the majority of players invited have experience in a variety of sports. Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell is one of the players named to last year’s Pro Bowl. Here were his comments on multi-sport participation, as reported by Stack.

“Playing multiple sports 100 percent made me a better athlete,” he said. “When you play different sports, you’re forced to do different things. I learned quick-twitch stuff from basketball. Track and field, I learned about my stride, my jumping, my hip thrust. I actually even wrestled for a while, and that helped me learn leverage and momentum. It all transfers over and develops different muscle groups.”

Next time parents or anyone else tries to defend specialization, just show them the numbers. It’s difficult to argue with hard facts.

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