Former pro baseball player switches to college football; UF makes offer

Cord Sandberg, 18, Height: 6'3, Weight: 215. Cord Sandberg is the offensive player who played for Manatee High. (January 22, 2013 Herald-Tribune Staff Photo by Thomas Bender)

By Scott Lockwood, GateHouse Media Services

Cord Sandberg has decided to chase another dream.

Sandberg, a former two-sport star at Manatee High, is retiring from professional baseball after six seasons with an eye on college football.

“I want to thank the Phillies for allowing me to chase a dream of mine for the last six seasons, but it’s time to chase another one,” Sandberg wrote in a Twitter post that featured a photo of Sandberg playing quarterback at Manatee.

Sandberg, who collected a $775,000 bonus after being picked 89th overall by the Phillies in the 2013 MLB draft, posted a .243 average, .298 on-base and .348 slugging percentage in 496 career minor league games. He advanced to Double-A level last year and has spent this season with the Double-A Reading Fightin’ Phils. Sandberg was hitting .231 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 54 games this year.

“I knew coming into this baseball season it would be a big year for me,” Sandberg said. “I kind of figured I might have to make some decisions after the season. Midway through the season evaluating myself as a baseball player and kind of what the future held with that, I started weighing my football options and when I wanted to go back.”

Sandberg was the HTPreps Football Player of the Year and Class 7A State Player of the Year in 2012 passing for 2,735 yards and 35 touchdowns with 1 interception in 264 attempts. The dual-threat quarterback also ran for 600 yards on 96 carries, a 6.25 average, with 10 touchdowns.

For his three-year football career, Sandberg was 572-for-786 (73 percent) for 7,829 touchdowns with 79 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He ran for 1,991 yards and 31 touchdowns. Sandberg committed to play for Mississippi State coached by Dan Mullen before the Phillies made him a third-round pick out of high school. Mullen now coaches Florida.

“While I was playing I was talking to some (football) coaches,” Sandberg said. “What I found out was enrolling for this fall semester was a possibility. After talking with my family and praying on it, I didn’t want to waste any more time. I figured at this point next year, I would be in the same situation. I just didn’t want to waste any more time moving forward on college and football.”

According to a story in the Reading (Pa.) Eagle, Sandberg has already received an offer from Auburn. He also has been given an opportunity to be a preferred walk-on at LSU and Florida.

Scott Lockwood is a writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. He can be reached at


        • Robert Howard. That same decision for Chris Weinke turned out really well for him. Hope it does the same for Sandburg; and at Florida, hopefully. I think I read yesterday on another site that the Phillies are obligated to pay for his college education, so he does not need an athletic scholarship offer. But I am sure the Phillies would appreciate him getting one. Either way, I am sure his dad can afford to pay for his advanced schooling.

          • I’m guessing you’re thinking his dad is hall of famer Ryan Sandberg? His dad is actually Chuck Sandberg, and unless he had a high paying job after his stint in the minor leagues, I’m pretty sure he’s hoping to not have to pay for college. One thing’s for sure though, he’d certainly be happy if his son chose to play at UF as he himself played baseball for the Gators in the late 70s.

          • Joe. Thanks. I guess my mind made that association from the name and the Ryan Sandberg association to the Phillies as a player and manager. But we all know what assumptions do…..and did. Thanks for the correction and information. Appreciated.

        • Gator65. Just a few years ago, Florida had another preferred walk on that came back to football after being in the baseball minors for a while. He was a pro-style, 4-star QB recruit coming out of high school and chose baseball right out of high school. He bombed in the minors and then committed to Muschamp, I believe, and then Muschamp immediately switched to the spread with Roper. He then became a bad fit at Florida and quit football entirely. I cannot recall his name. Can’t think of any others at Florida, or elsewhere (other than Weinke, who was very successful in his transition).

          • Gator65. I remembered his name. Chris Wilkes (thinking of Chris Weinke made me remember. Funny how such things work).

          • Thanks,I remember Wilkes. Didn’t know the history on him. I was curious if this was a good gamble. Appears he would be immediately eligible and we could use another QB. I’d hate to see anyone lost to injury but that is the nature of the game. My opinion is we got some solid guys (not great yet anyways). Gonna be a interesting fall camp and start to the year.

          • I guess he would enroll summer B at this point. I doubt he will be a factor for any team this year, as he gets back into football shape and learning to play QB again at a much higher level after such a long lay off. Big hill to climb for him. But he once had the talent to do it. We will see if he still has it, and hopefully as a Gator.

    • Last I heard, CO, Willie woke up with a panic attack over his record next year, and Kirby went back to sleep thinking it was all just a dream. Which just goes to show you, as gifted as those two guys may or may not be, neither one yet defines anything except they have a long way to go until they earn the title of “guru”. I’m with you–there’s a lot of football yet to be played in 2018 and a lot of youngsters still to sign before the 2019 class is formed up. We’ll be all right! This IS Florida, and we’re on our way back.

  1. Sandberg’s dad played baseball at UF, then a few years in the Red Sox organization. It’s so likely Cord grew up bleeding Orange & Blue and identified with the Gators. As I recall, because he was a dual threat prospect, Muschamp and his OC had little or no interest in him. His choice of Mississippi State indicates a strong relationship with Mullen and perhaps Brian Johnson. Meantime, it’s been substantiated that a prospect’s high school completion percentage usually carries over to his collegiate performance. Sandberg’s 73% completion ratio at Bradenton Manatee as well as his overall remarkable production screams out, “Get this guy!” We need a fourth QB for depth and he’s mature as well as a very solid individual. His character and faith echo that Tebow guy. I surely hope Cord Sandberg become a Florida Gator.

  2. If he signs then Mullen’s first class just got a little better. I bet he could contribute at receiver too since center fielders have to have speed and timing.
    If Mullen likes him at QB then I have confidence he will be good but the one thing is these players must resist losing and resist any form of not doing what it takes to be successful. talent may get you a chance or two but only you can earn the spot.
    I remember Michigan got excited over a minir league baseball player named Drew Henson and put him ahead of Tom Brady…so talent is necessary but not sufficient

  3. The article stated that UF made him an offer. Is the offer a full scholarship? or as a preferred walk-on? I’m going to go out on a limp and say, it’s a full ride.

    Coach Mullen made him an offer at MSU but that was a few years ago. It’s a big risk to make an offer to someone that has been out of football for such a long time but I trust his judgment on this one

    I would prefer that we bring him on as a preferred walk-on instead but he seems to fit our system well with his running ability and it seems like he has a big time arm..

    It’s a hit or miss and it seems like other big time schools are going after him as well which tells me that he was a talented prospect coming out of high school and at one point played at a very high level..
    let’s see what happens

    • I agree Neil, although I don’t really have a strong opinion one way or the other. As Clyde said, he seems to have some Tebow DNA and we need the depth anyway–good enough for me. Who knows? May turn out later to be a great decision.

    • Neil: Paragraph in article: “He also has been given an opportunity to be a preferred walk-on at LSU and Florida.”
      Sandberg collected a $775,000 bonus after being picked 89th overall by the Phillies in the 2013 MLB draft.

  4. Mullen compared Sandberg to Tebow coming out of high school in 2013. Sandberg was a 4-star prospect and the No. 33 overall ranked player in Florida coming out of high school, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

    As the Donald says, “what have you got to lose.”

    • Well if Dan Mullen said that, then this story suddenly takes on a whole new dimension, DFF. I must have missed that part. Part logic in that I trust Dan Mullen not to engage in hyperbole, and part emotion because, well, you know.

  5. How could anyone think someone out of football for six years could come back and play at an elite level especially at QB? However, there is that fellow named Staubach who served in the Navy for 6 years after graduation from Annapolis who did a pretty good job of it with the Cowboys. Cord is an elite athlete who can bring a lot more to the table than just athletic skills. Qualities, such as maturity and leadership, that have been in short supply since Tebow. Motivation, discipline and fundamentals are as important as skill in a team sport. ( think back to all the years Georgia owned us when we were clearly more talented mainly because they had a coach named Erk Russell who could get a bunch of mutts to play like Junkyard Dawgs with that formula). SOS was a master at motivation. It will be interesting to watch if the new staff has those talents and players like Cord maybe just the kind of Gators we need right now to lead us back to where we belong.

  6. If you know High School ball in Florida and those Bradenton Manatee teams he was on. then you know that he can ball. His sill set is ideal for the spread. Won a State title his junior year…got upset by St. Thomas in the semis his senior year.