Falcons sign former Georgia track star Garrett Scantling

Garrett Scantling is returning to football after a highly successful college track career. (AP)
Garrett Scantling is returning to football after a highly successful college track career. (AP)

Athletes who compete in track and field’s decathlon are often considered the best athletes in the world, or certainly the most well-rounded: the two-day event asks men who take part to sprint, run longer distance, hurdle, throw multiple implements, jump vertically and horizontally, and pole vault.

And at least one elite-level American decathlete is hoping his talents and athleticism will translate to the football field.

Garrett Scantling, a four-time first-team All-American at the University of Georgia in multi-events, posted a photo of himself signing a contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He worked out for NFL teams at Jacksonville University’s pro day last month, and will be trying to latch on as a receiver.

A Jacksonville native, Scantling hasn’t played football since his senior year of high school – he recorded 66 catches for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns that season – but has always loved the sport. He told News 4 Jax at his NFL workout that his hands are still there, but it hasn’t been easy jumping back into football.

“It’s hard, it’s tough to pick right back up again,” said Scantling. “I’ve always had my hands, that is one of my strong suits, they haven’t left me. So, I just had to learn how to run the routes again which I think I picked up pretty easily so I can’t complain.”

Scantling was very close to representing the United States at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics – he finished fourth at the U.S. Trials with a best-ever point total of 8,228; the top three finishers went on to the Games.

Marquise Goodwin, then with the Buffalo Bills (he’s since signed with the 49ers), spent last offseason pursuing his own Olympic dream, competing in long jump at several meets around the world. Though at one point he had the longest jump in the world, Goodwin finished seventh at the Olympic Trials, well out of a spot on the team.