Shark's two-sport hunt began in Valparaiso

A's Samardzija rode Indiana All-State honors in football and baseball to Notre Dame

Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Athletics
Hometown: Valparaiso, Ind.

Growing up in Valparaiso, Jeff Samardzija had athletic prowess in his blood. His father, Sam, was a semi-professional hockey player. His older brother, Sam Jr., was an All-State football and baseball player.

It's no surprise, then, that Jeff made waves at Valparaiso High. He was a three-time first-team All-State selection in football and a one-time first-team All-State selection in baseball.

Samardzija stayed close to home, attending Notre Dame to play baseball and football. While riding the bench his first two years as a wide receiver, Samardzija got plenty of opportunities on the diamond, finishing second in the Big East in ERA as a freshman.

But once he got his chance, Samardzija was even better on the gridiron -- he was one of the best wide receivers in the nation. He set the Irish's single-season records for receiving yards and touchdown catches and was named to the College Football All-America Team after the 2006 season.

Ultimately, Samardzija chose a career in baseball. While he still misses football on occasion, the Indiana native does not regret his decision.

"I was committed to myself that if I wanted to be the best at something, I'd have to commit full-time to one," Samardzija recently told "A lot of those [two-sport] careers, they didn't really turn out the way guys wanted them to. I always wondered, if those guys did pick one, how good would they have been?"

Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.