H.S. multi-sport athletes dominate NFL Draft

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick Jameis Winston, center, holds his jersey as he stands with general manager Jason Licht, left, and head coach Lovie Smith, right, during a news conference Friday, May 1, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. Winston, a former Florida State quarterback, was the first overall pick. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick Jameis Winston, center, holds his jersey as he stands with general manager Jason Licht, left, and head coach Lovie Smith, right, during a news conference Friday, May 1, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. Winston, a former Florida State quarterback, was the first overall pick. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The days of earning multiple varsity letters are dwindling, at least for the best of the best. Visit any high school basketball game, and you'll likely find the school's football stars watching from the bleachers. You'll rarely see them on the court, no matter how strong their basketball skills. 

Once an athlete shows talent in one sport, he or she is generally encouraged to drop the other sports, to concentrate on the sport that could be his ticket to a college scholarship. They start playing that one sport year round, working with trainers and private coaches to further develop their skills. 

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It's happening all over the country, but it doesn't make sense. Just look at the athletes drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, held over the weekend in Chicago. The website TrackingFootball.com dug into the draftees' high school profiles to see how many concentrated solely on football. It turns out the single-sport athletes were in the minority.

NFL teams selected 256 players. Of those, 224 played multiple sports in high school. That's 88 percent, including No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston and 27 other first-round picks. Only four first-round picks didn't play more than one sport. 

More than a third – 94 of the 256 – played three sports in high school. 

Tracking Football found that 63 percent of the players ran track, while 48 percent played basketball, and 10 percent played baseball. 

The website did not say whether these players were multi-sport athletes throughout high school, or if they instead dropped their extra sports after freshman or sophomore year, around the time colleges generally start showing scholarship interest. Regardless, they show that there's still something to be said for mixing it up, for playing various sports and taking at least short breaks from football. 

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Danielle Elliot is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact her at delliot@yahoo-inc.com or find her onTwitter and Facebook. 

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