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Patriots safety taking leave of absence to try and play rugby in the Olympics

Going back to his first love, Nate Ebner is setting his sights on Rio.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots safety Nate Ebner is taking a leave of absence to attempt to make a run at making the US Rugby team and potentially the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The former Buckeye, just signed a two-year deal to stay with the New England Patriots as a special teams player, and will get back to the team in August.

Ebner is entering his fifth year in the NFL, after being drafted in the sixth round by the Patriots. The safety has always been a rugby player first, and football player second. During his first two years at Ohio State, he focused on rugby before walking on to the football team in 2010. He earned a scholarship with the team his senior season, and was a three-time Big Ten Conference All-Academic honoree.

He skipped playing football his first two years in college due to competing internationally in rugby. Ebner was a standout rugby player from a young age, and at only 17 years old, was the youngest player to ever play on the United States national rugby sevens team. He went on to earn MVP honors on Team USA at both the Under 19 IRB Junior World Championship (2007), and the Under 20 IRB Junior World Championship (2008).