NFL Draft: Ty Sambrailo, the 300-Pounder Who Can Fly
The term “athletically gifted big man” is usually reserved for the NBA, but it fits rather nicely with today’s NFL, where there is typically no bigger man on the field than an offensive tackle. In the 1960s, the average lineman weighed in at 250 pounds; in 2015, he’s 6-foot-5, 315 pounds. Or larger. With the ability to run a 40-yard dash in 5 seconds (give or take an earth-shaking step).
Now imagine one of those beasts barreling down a mountain at 50 miles per hour.
That could have been Ty Sambrailo’s future, had he not made the decision to quit competitive ski racing when he was 12 to focus on football. At the time, he was perhaps the best young skier in the West – but Sambrailo, a 6-foot-6, 311 behemoth out of Colorado State, doesn’t regret the decision; he’s projected to be a second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
As he prepares for the next phase of his supersized career, Sambrailo spoke with Rolling Stone about giving up life on the slopes for afternoons in the trenches, and how, if pressed, he’s still willing to break out a backflip.
When did you start skiing?
I was one-and-a-half years old. My dad used to take me out and had, like, a harness on me and he would get behind me and make sure I wasn’t going too fast. I think I could ski before I could really walk. I kind of grew up skiing a lot with the family and just went up to Lake Tahoe a pretty decent amount. When I was eight I started ski racing and I did that until I was 12. I ended up racing for like five seasons.
And you were pretty dominant for your age, right?
I was in the “Far West,” an official, sponsored event in racing, and that was kind of the peak of me being a competitive skier. Once I stopped ski racing I just went and enjoyed it. Instead of making it competitive, it was just personal. I ended up winning the Far West overall award when I was 12, which meant that I had the most points at the end of the season out of California, Nevada and Oregon.
So when did you start playing football?
Growing up I played flag football, stuff like that, but it wasn’t until eighth grade that I played contact football. I started out as a quarterback and in my first game I got a concussion. We didn’t really have a very good offensive line, so I decided to move to offensive line to do some of the hitting instead of being hit.
And that was the beginning of the end for your skiing career?
The end of football season kind of runs into the beginning of ski season, and I was about four hours away from any snow. I had to decide if I wanted to play football and still have skiing be my sport, or kind of switch over. And I decided I wanted to be a football player. I was a little nervous giving up skiing, ’cause I probably had a future doing that. But at the same time, I was excited to play football because I really had a passion for it.
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