Nate Ebner

Nate Ebner

refer to caption

Ebner in 2013
No. 43New England Patriots
Position: Safety / Special teamer
Personal information
Date of birth: (1988-12-14) December 14, 1988
Place of birth: Dublin, Ohio
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school: Hilliard (OH)
College: Ohio State
NFL Draft: 2012 / Round: 6 / Pick: 197
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 11, 2016
Total tackles: 59
Sacks: 0.0
Interceptions: 0
Forced fumbles: 1
Fumble recoveries: 2
Kickoffs: 2
Player stats at

Nate Ebner (born December 14, 1988) is an American football safety and special teamer for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL) and a rugby sevens player for the United States national rugby sevens team.

When Ebner was 17 years old, he became the youngest player ever to play on the United States national rugby sevens team. Ebner then played rugby union (15-a-side) on the United States Under-19 and Under-20 national teams, and was named MVP for the teams at both the 2007 and 2008 IRB Junior World Championships. He later played rugby sevens for the United States national team at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Despite not having played high school football, in his junior year of college he then walked on to and played college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes. In 36 career college games, he had 30 tackles as a special teams player from 2009 to 2011.

He was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft. He has played for the team since 2012, winning Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks in 2014.


Ebner was born in Dublin, Ohio, the son of Nancy Pritchett and Jeffrey Ebner.[1] He identifies as Jewish (his father was Jewish and his mother is not).[2][3]

Ebner was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, until sixth grade, and then in Columbus, Ohio.[4][5][6][7] Ebner attended Hilliard Davidson High School, but did not play football there.[1][5]

Junior rugby career

Ebner was a standout rugby union player on the U.S. age-group national teams.[8] At age 17, Ebner was the youngest player ever to play on the United States national rugby sevens team. He was named MVP of the USA team at both the under-19 IRB Junior World Championship in 2007, and the under-20 IRB Junior World Championship in 2008.[5][8]

College football career

Ebner attended Ohio State University, where he majored in Exercise Science.[5] Ebner did not play football his first two years of college, as he was competing internationally in rugby, but then in his junior year he walked-on the Buckeyes.[9] Although he had not played football in high school, by year's end he was nevertheless considered the team's best special teams player.[10][11][12] He played only a handful of plays from scrimmage at nickelback as a backup, but did record a sack. He ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.48.[13]

He was given a football scholarship his senior year, based on his special teams skills.[14][15] In 2011, during which he had 11 tackles, he was voted the team’s most inspirational player, receiving the Bo Rein Award, and the team's best special teams player, earning the Ike Kelley Award.[16][17] He was a three-time Big Ten Conference All-Academic honoree.[5][8]

He was nicknamed "Leonidas," after a Greek warrior-king hero of Sparta portrayed by Gerard Butler in the movie 300, because of his intense workout regimen, and his beard.[18] Paul Haynes, the Buckeyes' co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach, said: "He has a passion for being great .... He was probably the most valuable player on that whole team last year."[18] Asked which special teams unit he enjoyed playing on the most at Ohio State, Ebner's said: "Kickoff, probably. Because ... I just enjoy running down as fast as you can. It's just mayhem, it's exciting, it's crazy. It's such a rush.... It's just one big blur, and then it's over.... Maybe I got a screw loose."[19]

In his 36 career games he had 30 tackles from 2009 to 2011. Pro Football Weekly described him as a player who "races down the field like a bat out of hell, and hunts returners like a heat-seeking missile".[16]

On Ohio State's Pro Day, he had an unofficial 4.47 40-yard dash time, and 39.5-inch vertical jump.[17] He also bench-pressed 225 pounds 23 times, ran the 60-yard shuttle in 10.90 seconds, recorded a broad jump of 10 feet 8 inches, and had a short-shuttle time of 3.91 seconds and a 3-cone drill time of 6.59 seconds.[20]

Professional career

New England Patriots

Ebner was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, 197th overall.[1][5] He signed a four-year contract with a $96,600 signing bonus.[21] He had considered playing rugby but he was not offered a contract with a professional team.[22] During his rookie season, Ebner played in all but 1 game, playing in 15 regular season games and both playoff games, and finished second on the team both in special teams tackles (17) and special teams snaps (297, or 61% of snaps).[1][5][23] He also played 36 snaps at safety.[24] In two playoff games, he had one tackle.[24] Ebner continued to play primarily on special teams for New England in 2013, playing only sparingly on defense. He played in 15 regular season games, in which he had 9 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 playoff games.[5][25] In the Patriots' Week 12 victory over the Denver Broncos, Ebner recovered a muffed punt that hit Broncos cornerback Tony Carter to set up Stephen Gostkowski's game-winning field goal. The recovery capped a franchise-record 24-point comeback.[5]

Ebner won his first Super Bowl with the Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX. He played 48 percent of special teams snaps, making 11 tackles (second on the team), while missing four games with a broken thumb during the 2014 season.[15][26][27] Coach Bill Belichick said:

His development has really been outstanding. I would probably put him in the, not the all-time top, but maybe in the top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached, from where they were in college to how they grew in the NFL. [He] has adapted in a relatively short amount of time to the knowledge of our defense, to the understanding of opponents’ offenses, to instinctiveness and reading and recognition at a position that he plays right in the middle of the field, which is among the most difficult – inside linebacker and safety – where the number of things that can happen is the greatest.[13]

On December 6, 2015 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ebner attempted a rare onside drop kick on a kickoff after a Patriots touchdown. The kick was recovered by the Eagles at their own 41 yard line.[28]

On March 12, 2016, Ebner agreed to terms with the Patriots on a new 2-year deal.[29]

Rugby sevens career

United States national team

Nate Ebner as a rugby sevens player during the 2016 Paris Sevens.

Three days after Ebner signed his contract, the Patriots granted Ebner a leave of absence to try out for the United States national rugby sevens team for the 2016 Summer Olympics,[30] even though Ebner had no guarantee about his chances of making the team.[31] His transfer to rugby sevens follows in the footsteps of Sonny Bill Williams, Bryan Habana, and Quade Cooper, who are rugby union stars also attempting to qualify for the Olympics.[32]

In an April 2016 interview, USA sevens head coach Mike Friday recalled that when Ebner first approached him about trying out for the Olympic team, Friday placed Ebner's chances of making the team at "10 or 20 percent." However, after strong showings in the Hong Kong and Singapore events on the World Rugby Sevens circuit, Friday said, "He has a 50:50 chance now but if he stays on this trajectory then it's only going one way and that's up." Friday added that Ebner played a critical role in improving the team's on-field communication. According to Friday, one of Ebner's first questions upon arriving at the USA training camp was whether the team had a "comms book." Friday was unfamiliar with the term, and Ebner pointed out that the Patriots provide all players with a manual of common on-field language, with all terms tightly defined. While the sevens team had operated with a set of common words, Friday and the rest of the coaching staff analyzed the team's communications and found that many players had different definitions for the same term. In the interview, Friday indicated, "That's exactly what I wanted from Nate. From being a newbie in the environment, he'd recognised an area we could improve."[33]

Ebner's efforts proved successful: in July 2016 he was named to the 2016 US rugby sevens team.[34] While with the rugby team, the Patriots received a roster exemption for Ebner, so he does not count against the Patriots' 90-man limit for training camp.[35]

2016 Summer Olympics

Ebner played in the team's first two matches, a 17–14 loss to Argentina and a 26–0 shutout of host Brazil. During the latter match, Ebner scored a try in the first half, and was sent to the sin bin for two minutes in the second half for an illegal tackle. Playing against Fiji in the final pool match, Ebner scored a try to make the score 24–19 in favor of Fiji with just over one minute to play, but the Eagles were unable to score the conversion. As a result, the US team fell two points (in scoring differential) short of advancing to medal play; they ultimately finished ninth.

Personal life

Ebner is Jewish.[1][36] He said of his father: "He taught me the importance of being Jewish with holidays like Chanukah and Passover, and I spent some time at Sunday Hebrew school. My dad stressed finishing strong in every task I did, and conduct myself always in a proper manner."[24] He said his grandparents continue to be a big influence in his life, and "make sure I keep up with Jewish events and that I remember my origins."[24]

His father, Jeff Ebner, was a former college rugby player at the University of Minnesota and Sunday School principal at Temple Shalom in Springfield, Ohio, He was beaten to death at age 53 during an attempted robbery in November 2008 at the family business, Ebner & Sons auto reclamation in Springfield.[20][36][37][38][39] In July 2010, his father's killer was sentenced to life in prison for murder, with the possibility of parole after 15 years.[37][40] Ebner said:

My [late] dad was my only role model. Looking back on it, you had your favorite players, but they were just players. But a role model, and the way you carry yourself and how you go about your work – what hard work really means – and to be a man ... every aspect of life. To me, my dad was that role model, 100 percent. There wasn't anyone else I wanted to be like more than him.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Reiss, Mike (January 5, 2013). "Football journey: Nate Ebner". ESPN. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  2. Friedman, Gabe (July 31, 2016). "2016 Olympics: 7 Jewish American Olympians to watch in Rio". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  3. "The Jewish Federation of Columbus - Local Jewish Boy Hoping For Super Bowl Ring". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Football journey: Nate Ebner". ESPN. January 5, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "New England Patriots: Nate Ebner". Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  6. Bill Rabinowitz. "Ohio State football: Former walk-on is named a captain". Buckeye Xtra Sports.
  7. "The Evolution of Nate Ebner |". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  8. 1 2 3 "Nate Ebner". Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  9. Brandon Castel. "NFL Draft: Herron, Ebner Taken as Brewster Slips Out of Draft". Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  10. Austin Murphy (January 29, 2015). "2015 Super Bowl: Nate Ebner's unlikely rise for New England Patriots". Sports Illustrated.
  11. Rodak, Mike (April 28, 2012). "Patriots select DB Ebner at 197". ESPN. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  12. Matthew Hager (September 8, 2011). "Ebner Has Gone From Walk-On To War Daddy". Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  13. 1 2 Austin Murphy. "2015 Super Bowl: Nate Ebner's unlikely rise for New England Patriots". Sports Illustrated.
  14. "For Patriots safety Nate Ebner, rugby was an unhelmeted gateway to the NFL".
  15. 1 2 Bill Rabinowitz. "Former Ohio State walk-on Nate Ebner makes it to the Super Bowl". The Columbus Dispatch.
  16. 1 2 Christopher Price. "Legend of the fall: Nate Ebner's 'special' story began with a bang at Ohio State". WEEI.
  17. 1 2 Marcus Hartman (April 28, 2012). "Herron, Ebner Round Out OSU Draftees". Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  18. 1 2 "Nate Ebner Earns 'Leonidas' Nickname, Dubbed Ohio State's Most Valuable Player for Strong Work Ethic". NESN.
  19. "Ebner: 'Maybe I got a screw loose'". ESPN.
  20. 1 2 "Draft Prospect – Nate Ebner". Pro Football Weekly. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  21. "Nate Ebner Salary Cap, Contracts, Salaries, Cap Hits, & News Profile". Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  22. Doug Lesmerises (April 24, 2012). "Among Buckeyes with NFL Draft dreams, Nate Ebner's is rather special". Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  23. "2013 NFL SNAP COUNTS". Football Outsiders. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  24. 1 2 3 4 Jack Borenstein (December 8, 2014). "Patriots' coach impressed by Ebner's growth in NFL". Jewish Tribune.
  25. "Nate Ebner Stepping into Hybrid Linebacker Role for Patriots".
  26. "Special-teams standout Nate Ebner gets hometown celebration". ESPN.
  27. "New England Patriots safeties breakdown: Will Devin McCourty get long-term deal or franchise tag?".
  28. cite web|url=
  29. "Agent: Patriots agree to contract with special-teamer Nate Ebner - New England Patriots Blog- ESPN". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  30. "Patriots' Nate Ebner to chase rugby Olympic dreams". 15 March 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  31. "Nate Ebner Appreciates Patriots Letting Him Chase Olympic Rugby Dream". Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  32. "American football star Nate Ebner joins chase to play rugby at Rio 2016 Olympic Games". Rio 2016. 16 March 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  33. Hamilton, Tom (19 April 2016). "Nate Ebner on right path for Olympics, says USA coach Mike Friday". ESPN (UK). Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  34. Pengelly, Martin. "NFL player Nate Ebner selected for US Olympic rugby sevens squad". The Guardian. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  35. "New England Patriots roster moves: Nate Ebner gets exemption, team adds two veterans". Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  36. 1 2 Ron Kaplan (December 5, 2013). "Kaplan's Korner on Jews and Sports". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  37. 1 2 Valerie Lough (July 23, 2010). "Guilty plea ends murder trial; Willie Anderson, 43, is sentenced to 15 years to life for killing Jeff Ebner". Springfield News-Sun. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  38. Rich Garven (April 29, 2012). "NFL Draft: Patriots pick Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner; Ex-rugby player way off charts". Telegram & Gazette.
  39. "Jeffrey D. Ebner Obituary". Springfield News-Sun. November 16, 2008. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  40. "Surprise Plea In Springfield Murder". July 22, 2010.

External links

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