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Ohio State alum Nate Ebner named to U.S. Olympic men’s rugby team

From the NFL to the Olympics, one Buckeye is eyeing gold.

A Day with the US Rugby 7s Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Shortly after signing a new contract with the New England Patriots, former Ohio State player and Super Bowl Champion Nate Ebner took a leave of absence to follow a long lost rugby dream. That dream is now a reality, as Ebner was named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic men’s rugby team and will be headed to Rio de Janeiro to compete for gold.

One of 12 players to earn a spot, the Buckeye spent the last few months playing internationally and transforming his body, shifting muscle from his upper to lower half, in order to excel at the next level. Ebner was the youngest-ever player to represent the Men’s Sevens at 17 years old, but only played rugby through his sophomore year at Ohio State, before joining the football team and continuing on that path.

The game of rugby was always special to him. It was part of a close bond that Ebner shared with his late father, and wanted to try one more time for Olympic glory. The 2016 games marks only the first time the men have competed since 1924 — when the USA won gold — and this is the first time Rugby Sevens will be played in the Olympics.

Ebner and his teammates will head to Brazil on Aug. 1, and will compete Aug. 9-12 at Deodoro Stadium. The team is seated in Pool A, along with Argentina, Brazil and Fiji.