Thursday, May 31, 2012

Patriots sign Nate ‘Leonidas’ Ebner

By Karen Guregian

May 30, 2012

The Patriots signed sixth-round pick Nate Ebner to a four-year contract today. Ebner is listed as a safety, but he’s a true special teamer who won’t make an impact on defense for quite some time.

Earlier this month, I caught up with Paul Haynes, who was Ebner’s positional coach at Ohio State. Haynes loved Ebner. Loved him. But Ebner only played three defensive snaps last year because Haynes said he still had to learn the mental aspect of the game.

Haynes, who is now the defensive coordinator at Arkansas, had some great stuff to say about Ebner. During Ohio State’s football camps, Ebner earned a reputation of forcing his roommates to do an insane amount of pushups every night before bed. Eventually, Ebner’s intense work ethic earned him the nickname “Leonidas,” after Gerard Butler’s character in the movie 300.

How many pushups would Ebner do?

“Maybe 5,000,” Haynes said with a laugh.

Haynes couldn’t overstate how much everyone loved him on the football team.

“He was probably the most valuable player on that whole team, the most valuable player on that whole team last year,” Haynes said strongly. “If there was a guy that we were going to go down with, it would have been Nate Ebner by far. There isn’t a coach on that staff who wouldn’t say that.”

How many times have you heard anyone say that about a special teamer?

I have no idea if Ebner will make the team, but I can say with certainty that he’ll be a fun player to watch during training camp.

Defensive end Chandler Jones (first round), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first round) and defensive end Jake Bequette (third round) are the only Patriots draft picks who remain unsigned. The rookie contracts are merely a formality with the new salary scale, so there’s no reason to think they won’t get done on time.

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