- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2021

In the NFL, the basketball-to-tight end pipeline has had a handful of famous examples. Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates, two of the best all-time players at the position, played college basketball before becoming a star NFL player. The league even has current players who made the switch like Chicago’s Jimmy Graham and Indianapolis’ Mo’ Allie-Cox. 

Now, the Washington Football Team is hoping they’ve found the latest standout. 

Washington signed tight end Sammis Reyes, a former Division-I basketball player looking to become the first Chilean-born player to play in the NFL. Unlike Gonzalez and Graham, Reyes didn’t play college football. The 25-year-old has been training to make the NFL and entered the NFL’s International Player Pathway for foreign players, a program that allows players to train with a team for a season.

But rather than letting him be assigned to a team as part of the program, Washington opted to sign Reyes on Tuesday to a contract.

Reyes has intriguing measurables at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. Last month, he wowed scouts at the University of Florida’s Pro Day — running a 4.65 40-yard dash and jumping 40 inches for the vertical jump. 

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Reyes briefly explored playing football in high school before sticking with basketball. He told the paper that making the NBA was his dream and wanted to see if he could do it. Reyes played two seasons for Tulane, last playing in 2018. 

Reyes grew up in Chile until moving to the United States at 14 years old. He said when he was 23, his family, friends and agent convinced him to give football a try.

“They were like, … ‘You’ve got to give this football thing a shot. You’re fast, you’re strong, you’re powerful,’” Reyes said.

Reyes, though, will have to work hard to earn a spot in Washington. He joins a tight end room that has starter Logan Thomas and Marcus Baugh. Thomas, however, can possibly help Reyes’ transition as he has experience in switching to tight end after playing quarterback in college. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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