RWU HQ – For most of his life, Nate Ebner was known as a rugby star. A phenom, perhaps. The Dublin, Ohio native was a standout rugby player in his youth, playing for the United States U-19 and U-20 Teams and the National 7’s team… but that all changed in 2009.
See, 2009 was the first year Nate Ebner played football, as a preferred walk-on at Ohio State University.
Though Ebner didn’t see much of the field on defense as a defensive back, he was a stud on special teams. The exercise science major was so good on special teams, that it got him drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
In his rookie season, Ebner played in all but one game. He played primarily on special teams, but did see some time at safety too. The same went for the 2013 season. Ebner so most of his time on special teams, while he had a limited role on defense.
Fast forward to this year, and things look a little bit different for the former rugby star. According to his head coach, Bill Belichick, the third-year player has taken great strides this season.
“I would probably put him in … the top 5 percent all time of players that I’ve coached, from where they were in college to how they grew in the NFL,” said Belichick, according to the Portland Press Herald. “His development has really been outstanding. Nate has, I’d say, far exceeded our expectations defensively based on what he had coming out of college.”
Even though Ebner is third on the Patriots’ depth chart at strong safety, this could be the year that he breaks out on defense.
“If you do everything you can to get better and progress, the rest will take care of itself,” said the strong safety.