100 in 100: Bladen County’s Tyrell Godwin, a two-sport star at UNC

The former Tar Heels baseball and football standout was taken three times in the MLB draft

Elzabethtown native and former UNC star Tyrell Godwin slides under a tag at second base while playing for the Washington Nationals during a spring training game in Viera, Fla., in 2006. (Todd Anderson / AP Photo)

North State Journal’s 100 in 100 series will showcase the best athlete from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. From Alamance to Yancey, each county will feature one athlete who stands above the rest. Some will be obvious choices, others controversial, but all of our choices are worthy of being recognized for their accomplishments — from the diamond and gridiron to racing ovals and the squared circle. You can see all the profiles as they’re unveiled here.

Bladen County

Tyrell Godwin

Imagine being drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft and being offered $1 million to sign with the New York Yankees.

Tyrell Godwin didn’t have to imagine it.

He actually was drafted by the Yankees in 1997 and offered a seven-figure contract. But he turned it down, opting instead to accept a Morehead Scholarship to North Carolina, where he played both football and baseball for the Tar Heels.

Tyrell Godwin played three games with the Nationals in 2005. (Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP Photo)

Godwin also said no to the Texas Rangers after they too picked him in the first round of the 2000 draft before finally accepting much less money to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays as a third-round selection in 2001. The two-sport star, who was ranked as the No. 1 baseball prospect in the state coming out of Elizabethtown’s East Bladen High School, eventually made it to the majors with the Washington Nationals in 2005, but he only played in three games — batting three times without a hit — before being sent back to the minors.

Although his decision not to turn pro out of high school didn’t turn out the way he hoped, Godwin did get a college degree while making contributions to UNC on both the gridiron and the diamond. The highlight of his football career came in 1998 when he led the ACC with a kickoff return average of 27.8 yards and set a school record with a 100-yard touchdown return against Stanford. He hit .337 or better in each of his three baseball seasons with the Tar Heels, earning third-team All-America honors in 2000 and an invitation to play for Team USA on its summer exhibition tour of Japan.

Now retired, he lives in Florida and works as an assistant vice president for BB&T.