Carlin Isles is the fastest man in rugby and now he has an outside shot at playing in the NFL. It’s been just over a year since most people heard of Isles for the first time. A former track star and Olympic sprinting hopeful out of D-II Ashland College, Isles left running behind for rugby in 2012. Since then he has almost single-handedly legitimized the United States in the world of Rugby Sevens. Now the Detroit Lions are giving him a shot.
Isles ran a 4.22 in a workout with the Lions earlier this week and on Thursday Detroit signed him to the practice squad. From the Detroit Free Press:
“Indianapolis has a rugby guy as a pass rusher (Daniel Adongo) and I know San Fran brought a guy in (Lawrence Okoye) that was a shot-putter or a discus guy,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday. “I mean, you’re looking for athletes. It hasn’t been unusual to see basketball players transition to the NFL. That’s not just recently, that goes way back. Even track guys like Bob Hayes and Renaldo Nehemiah, things like that. An athlete’s an athlete. There’s skills that you can develop, and if you see something you like then you can work with him.”
Is it selfish to hope that Isles leaves behind a dream of playing in the NFL because he’s so damn fun to watch play rugby? What’s more important? Collecting a check and maybe making a team or Olympic glory? Or maybe – hopefully – Isles can do both.