Monday, February 26, 2001

Dunn shuns football for long ball

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Adam Dunn
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        SARASOTA, Fla. — Any doubts about Adam Dunn's commitment to baseball should vanish forever after what happened this offseason.

        Four major universities — Kentucky, Notre Dame, Southern Methodist and Texas Tech — expressed interest in offering Dunn scholarships to return to football, the sport he spurned two years ago to concentrate full-time on baseball.

        “After not playing football for three years, it was kind of nice that they still thought I could play at the Division I level,” said Dunn, a former University of Texas quarterback. While some of these schools coveted the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Dunn as a tight end, he said Notre Dame still thought he could play quarterback or even defensive end.

        But this flattery won't lure Dunn away from the diamond. “I figured they would have gotten the hint by now,” he said of his football suitors.

        In football, Dunn's combination of size and speed is commonplace. In baseball, it makes him a rarity. Though Austin Kearns is considered Cincinnati's most polished prospect, Dunn has the most tantalizing skills.

        “Adam Dunn has the highest ceiling as far as power,” Reds general manager Jim Bowden said. “Adam Dunn has the potential of being a 40- or 50-home run hitter down the road. When Adam figures it out, watch out, because his physical tools put him in the category of a (Jim) Thome or a (Ryan) Klesko.”

        The Reds are more than willing to be patient with Dunn, since his attention has been divided between two sports for most of his athletic life. The left-handed batter has played just 249 professional games. Despite his inexperience, he hit .281 with 16 homers and 79 RBI at Single-A Dayton last year, offsetting his 101 strikeouts with 100 walks while stealing 24 bases in 29 tries.

        “There are so many things I have to work on with hitting,” Dunn said. “And everyone knows I'm the worst outfielder in America. Baserunning, that's about all I've got.”


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