Coming out of high school, Cord Sandberg had the option to play professional baseball or college football. Sandberg, the dual-threat quarterback on Manatee High's last state football title in 2011, pursued baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies organization over playing at Mississippi State when he graduated in 2013.
On Wednesday, Sandberg, 23, publicly announced his baseball dream was ending so he could chase his football dream.
"I felt it was time to go to college, get an education and at the same time play a little football and pursue that dream," Sandberg told the Bradenton Herald after six seasons with the Phillies, where he reached as high as Double-A. "... And if for some reason I never start a college football game ever, I can at 28 be like, 'OK, I gave it all I had to both, but now I have a four-year degree and I can move on with the next part of my life.'"
Sandberg said he knew after five or six seasons, he'd have to make a decision about football. And he said he was the fourth outfielder in Double-A before injuries gave him some playing time this year.
"I was kind of just the same player that I had kind of been," Sandberg said. "A solid, just average Double-A guy hitting .240 or whatever it was and a handful of homers."
So Sandberg began thinking, talking with his family and praying hard on what to do. A bus trip from New Hampshire back to Reading, Pennsylvania, for a nine-game homestand a couple weeks ago was when Sandberg made his decision.
"I just didn't feel like wasting any more time," he said. "I truly felt that at this time next year, I would be in the same position. I was ready to move on."
Cardinal Mooney assistant coach Chris Conboy, who was an assistant at Manatee when Sandberg played, connected Sandberg with some of the college coaches he previously talked with during his initial recruitment out of Manatee High.
Sandberg said he's talked with four schools so far: Florida, LSU, Auburn and UCF. Dan Mullen, the head coach with the Gators, recruited Sandberg, who drew comparisons to Tim Tebow for his playing style in high school, when he was at Mississippi State. Sandberg was a four-star prospect and the No. 33 overall ranked player in Florida coming out of high school, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Mullen was the Gators' offensive coordinator during Tebow's time in Gainesville.
Both Florida and LSU are preferred walk-on situations, while Auburn and UCF are offering full-ride scholarships.
"My main goal is going for the place with the best situation," Sandberg said. "With my Phillies contract that I had, I do have some money for schooling through the Phillies. So, if for some reason I decided to go a place that was a walk-on situation for maybe a year or two, the Phillies would be able to pay my tuition and books and all that stuff. I'd be able to make that work until I was on scholarship, if I felt that was the right situation."
Sandberg said he'll take some official visits in late July and wants to be enrolled at a campus before classes begin in late August.
There are also no favorites to land Sandberg. It's still early in the process, he said.
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