Antonio Gates shares how Nick Saban helped inspire NFL career

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Gates announced the end of his Hall of Fame career on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the legendary tight end shared how head coach Nick Saban changed the entire course of his life with just a few simple words.

Appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show”, Gates shared how he dedicated so much of his life to basketball coming out of high school and believed it would be his future. That’s when Saban, then Michigan State’s head coach, changes Gates’ entire outlook on his potential career in football.

“He said you are a first-round pick… you’re what NFL scouts are looking for. The natural attributes at 6-foot-4, the ability to run and move.” Gates said, via Andrew Perloff. “It blindsided me because I was 17 years old. Basketball was my life.”

Gates originally went to Michigan State hoping to play football under Saban and basketball with Spartans’ head coach Tom Izzo. When Saban wouldn’t allow him to become a two-sport player, Gates then went to Eastern Michigan before transferring to Kent State.

He shared how, at the time, he rejected Saban’s advice because he wanted to play and focus his efforts on football. Gates never played college football, but after not getting an opportunity in the NBA, he worked out for the San Diego Chargers. The rest is history.