Jul 1, 2010, 2:59 PM EDT
Villanova and the Chicago Cubs announced great news for both parties earlier today. The Wildcats’ two-sport standout Matt Szczur, who helped lead Villanova to the 2009 NCAA Division I National Championship in football, will return to campus this fall to help the Wildcats defend their National Championship…after he plays professional baseball in the Cubs’ organization this summer. Below is the official release from CAASports.com.
This is tremendous news for Villanova, the Chicago Cubs, CAA Football and all of FCS Football. Arguably one of the most dynamic athletes last season, will return to a team which is among several Preseason Top-5 rankings in 2010. Does this make Villanova the prohibitive favorite to repeat as NCAA Division I National Champions in 2010? We want to know…post your comments and thoughts below!
VILLANOVA, Pa. (July 1, 2010) — Villanova’s Matt Szczur, CAA Football’s reigning Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year, has signed a contract with Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and will report to one of the franchise’s minor league affiliates within the next few days, it was announced today. The contract will allow Szczur, a rising senior in football at Villanova, to return to campus this fall and play his final year for the Wildcats which won the NCAA Division I National Championship in 2009.
Szczur begins his professional baseball career just a few weeks after the Cubs made him their fifth-round selection in last month’s amateur draft. He will be able to play baseball this summer before returning to campus for the start of fall semester classes as well as preseason football workouts.
“I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to play professional baseball. It has always been a dream of mine to play at this level,” stated Szczur. “I could not have asked for a better situation. I am thrilled to begin my professional baseball career in the Chicago Cubs organization and also be able to return to Villanova for my senior year and help my football teammates defend our national championship.”
As a baseball player for the Wildcats, Szczur batted .443 (77-174) and became Villanova’s first .400 hitter in 13 years. He earned first team All-BIG EAST recognition after leading the Wildcats in eight offensive categories, and has since garnered All-East and All-ECAC honors. Szczur had 13 doubles, seven triples and four home runs for Villanova this season while drawing 14 walks and striking out only nine times in 191 plate appearances. He posted a .487 on-base percentage and a .667 slugging percentage.
In his junior campaign on the gridiron last fall, Szczur led the Wildcats to their first-ever national championship. He was a consensus first team All-American as well as the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year. In the national championship game against Montana, he rushed for a career-high 159 yards and gained 270 all-purpose yards en route to being named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.
The numbers put up by Szczur during Villanova’s baseball season are even more impressive considering that he missed 10 consecutive games in April and May because of donating peripheral blood cells to a young patient with leukemia. Szczur is a member of the national Be The Match registry and was a match for a patient who only had a 1-in-80,000 chance of finding a donor.
Szczur and the Wildcats will kickoff the 2010 season on Sept. 3, at 5 p.m., against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on ESPN3.com.
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