Major League Baseball’s annual draft came and went this week without Keith Holcombe being selected. That doesn’t necessarily mean, though, a return to the gridiron is in the cards.
Holcombe has played for the Alabama baseball team each of the last three years. During that time, he’s also been a linebacker for the Crimson Tide football team, leading the reigning national champions in special teams tackles during the 2017 season.
Asked Thursday whether the linebacker could return to his football team for a fourth on-field season, Nick Saban didn’t sound optimistic that Holcombe’s situation would play out that way.
“I talked to him before [the draft]. He wanted to continue to try to pursue his baseball career, so I haven’t talked to him since that,” the Tide head coach said by way of al.com. “I think he could actually come back and play another year of baseball if he chooses to do that. So, I will talk to him again, but when we had the last conversation, he was pretty much set on trying to play baseball.”
After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014, Holcombe played in 44 football games for the Tide the past three seasons. In addition to a team-high 11 special teams tackles, he was also credited with three pass breakups and two tackles for loss on defense in 2017.
On the baseball side, he started 87 of the 97 games he played, including 45 of 47 this past season as an outfielder. He was third on the team in hits with 51.
While he wasn’t drafted this time around, he was taken in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Instead of signing with that organization, he headed to Tuscaloosa on a football scholarship.