Recently, the Detroit Lions have been exercising a recruiting process much like those classic sports movies where team coaches piece together a team of misfits by snagging players from other sports who might fill a role on the football field. Like in We Are Marshall, the coaches find a kicker off the soccer team and a receiver off the basketball team. The Lions in the past year or so have brought in the German Football League’s best receiver for a tryout and considered YouTube craze Harvard Rugland as a potential kicker.
For their next trick, the Lions looked at American Rugby to find speed, of course. If speed is not the first thing you think of when thinking about rugby, then there’s something slow about you. Oh wait, I actually think of crazy tough Irish guys with nine teeth, collared sweatshirts, and alcoholism. Sounds like a fraternity brother you still get a Christmas card from, right? Well, how does a 4.22 second 40-yard dash fill up your stocking?
Carlin Isles, a wing on Team USA Rugby, signed with the Lions earlier this week. He returned some kicks for college football juggernaut Ashland University, a tiny school in Ohio, but really was a track and field star. He’s been called the “fasted rugby player in the world” — a strange distinction for sure, but a distinction nonetheless. He wouldn’t be the first rugby player to play professional football, but not much has come from the idea. However, track stars have been used in football to varying degrees of success over the years. The Denver Broncos’ Trindon Holliday is the latest example of a player with a similar background as Isles doing well in the league.
As far as pure athletes go, he’s got speed and toughness in spades, so why not throw him on the practice squad, right? If I could control the Lions (oh what a dream/nightmare) I would play him this week against the Minnesota Vikings for a little boost in fan morale. Either way, it should be fun to see how the Lions’ latest experiment pans out.