Odell Beckham Jr. once was a very good football player. He’s still a very good football player – albeit a different kind of football.
The LSU wide receiver is projected as the third-best wideout in this year’s draft class and a possible top-10 overall pick (and has been linked to both the Jets and the Giants). But as a child, he played a lot of soccer -- and was good at it. So much so that he was presented with a tough decision early on: which type of football to play.
“My coach was from Jamaica and I was on a premier league team when I was young,” Beckham Jr. said Wednesday during an NFL Play60 event at Chelsea Waterside Park. “He wanted me to try out for the national team when I was 13 or 14.”
Why didn’t he do it? Family.
“It was one of those things where to be great at soccer, you have to go across seas,” Beckham Jr. said. “Europe is the place to play soccer, and I didn’t know if I wanted to leave my family.”
He didn’t want to play soccer in college because, as he put it, “if you’re going to do it, then you should do it big.”
Beckham Jr. also played baseball in his childhood, and though he enjoyed that as well, he left it for the same reason he left soccer.
“We were traveling every weekend,” he said. “I had the family on the road every weekend.”
So he stuck with football, which he started playing at age three. The choice has paid off – he racked up 141 catches for 2,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, returned two punts for scores and returned 1,005 yards worth of kicks in his three-year LSU career.
Now the 2013 Paul Hornung Award winner and All-American will have the chance to walk across the Radio City Music Hall stage on Thursday, shake NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand and pose with his new team’s jersey.
Said Beckham Jr.: “It’s crazy to even look back and think 18 years ago that you would be here.”