Braves sign former Georgia DB Sanders Commings to minor league deal

Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree (9) and cornerback Sanders Commings (19) celebrate a Florida fumble and Georgia recovery in the first half of a 24-20 win over Florida in 2011. Commings has decided to pursue a baseball career and signed a minor-league contract with the Braves this week. (Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com)
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Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree (9) and cornerback Sanders Commings (19) celebrate a Florida fumble and Georgia recovery in the first half of a 24-20 win over Florida in 2011. Commings has decided to pursue a baseball career and signed a minor-league contract with the Braves this week. (Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Former University of Georgia and NFL defensive back Sanders Commings is about to pursue a career in baseball, and Augusta, Ga., native is going to do it with the Braves.

Commings, who’ll be 27 in March, hasn’t played baseball since his senior year at Augusta’s Westside High School in 2008 and has been out of football since 2014 after an injury-shortened career with the Kansas City Chiefs. He signed a minor league contract with the Braves after deciding to pursue a baseball career and meeting with several teams.

“We feel this is a tremendous athlete and an even better person,” said Braves general manager John Coppolella, who finalized the deal with Commings on Wednesday. “Our mantra has always been to leave no stone unturned. What’s the downside here?”

The Braves famously had success with two-sport athletes in the past including Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan, standout defensive backs whose speed and athleticism helped make each of them successful outfielders. The Braves also expressed interest in former Heismam Trophy winner Tim Tebow last winter before he signed with the Mets.

Commings was a fifth-round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs who played just two games in the NFL in 2013. before a season-ending shoulder injury. He had ankle surgery following a broken fibula and high-ankle sprain at Chiefs training camp in 2014 and didn’t play in the NFL again.

Commings spent much of this past winter working out five days a week with former major leaguer Jerry Hairston Jr. in Arizona, after first telling Hairston during a pickup baseball game about his desire to pursue a baseball career. Hairston organized the workouts and approached teams on Commings’ behalf to set up meetings.

Hairston told FoxSports.com that Commings “is a Starling Marte type of talent. He’s that good.”

Marte is a .289 hitter with 58 home runs, 160 stolen bases and a .792 OPS in 599 games over five seasons with the Pirates.

As a high school senior in 2008, Commings hit .520 with 15 home runs and 18 stolen bases and was drafted in the 37th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He opted instead to play football at UGA, where he had 154 tackles and eight interceptions in 54 games (35 starts) over parts of five seasons.

He had 84 tackles while starting all 26 games in his junior and senior seasons in 2011-2012.