New England Patriots special teams player Nate Ebner was named Monday to the U.S. Olympic rugby sevens team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Ebner joins former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best – who qualified for the track team of St. Lucia, his father’s homeland – as Olympians with NFL ties.

The Patriots drafted Ebner in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft even though he never played high school football and – while concentrating mostly on rugby – only walked on to the Ohio State football team during his junior year. In March, soon after signing a two-year contract extension with the Patriots, he took a leave of absence to try to make the U.S. rugby sevens team. He is expected to rejoin New England at training camp after the Olympic rugby event ends on Aug. 11.

Rugby sevens is a quicker variant of the game most known around in the world; instead of 15 players per team playing 40-minute halves, there are seven per side playing seven-minute halves. It is making its Olympics debut this year.

The men’s roster also includes Carlin Isles, who’s been called the “the fastest man in rugby” and briefly entertained notions of trying to make the American track and field team in the 100 meters.

The U.S. men’s roster is Ebner, Madison Hughes, Zack Test, Folau Niua, Danny Barrett, Garrett Bender, Maka Unufe, Perry Baker, Isles, Andrew Durutalo, Chris Wyles and Ben Pinkelman.

The U.S. women’s roster includes Jillion Potter, Kelly Griffin, Victoria Folayan, Richelle Stephens, Alev Kelter, Jessica Javelet, Lauren Doyle, Joanne Fa’avesi, Kathryn Johnson, Carmen Farmer, Bui Baravilala and Ryan Carlyle.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.