In order to be an actor or other celebrity, you have to enjoy the spotlight (or at least tolerate it). It’s clear that many actors really love the spotlight. Because not only do they seek it out in their acting careers, many of them previously sought it out as college athletes. Check out these 15 celebrities who also made a mark as college athletes.
Before he starred in The Transformers and before he married Fergie, Josh Duhamel played division two football at Minot State University. He was a quarterback and started for one season before being moved to a backup position. Josh is still a Minot State football fan, and can occasionally be seen at games.
Dean Cain may be best known for playing Superman, but he also had a very impressive career as a college football player. He was recruited by nearly twenty colleges out of high school before deciding to play for Princeton. His college career was so successful that he moved on to the NFL after college to play for the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, his football career was ended prematurely after a severe knee injury.
Although his athletic career was very brief, rapper Rick Ross does qualify for this list. He earned a scholarship to Albany State University to play football. Unfortunately, he only lasted a few weeks as a running back before dropping out.
Today, Mark Harmon is the star of one of the most popular dramas on television today, NCIS. He also has an impressive list of other movies and television shows under his belt. Before he became an actor though, Mark Harmon was a star UCLA quarterback during two of the university’s most successful seasons. His athletic prowess should come as no surprise though. His father was Heismann trophy winner, Tom Harmon.
When Emma Watson enrolled at Brown University, she wanted to have as authentic and normal college experience as she possibly could. One thing that she did in order to achieve this was to make the choice to live in the dorms rather than off campus. The other thing she did was to join the school’s field hockey team.
You may know Ed O’Neill from his work on Modern Family and Married…With Children, but that’s only because his football career ended when he was in his early twenties. Ed O’Neill was a defensive lineman for Youngstown State. His work on the gridiron was so impressive that the Pittsburgh Steelers recruited him to attend their training. Unfortunately, he was quickly cut from the team’s roster. Despite failures to continue in the NFL, O’Neill has certainly flourished as an actor.
You probably know Tom Selleck for his work on Magnum P.I., Friends, Blue Bloods, and movies such as Quigley Down Under. You may also know that he spent many years supporting himself as a model appearing in a variety of ads and publications, including Playgirl. What you may not know is that he was a scholarship basketball player who had an impressive career at USC.
He may not be the most famous Baldwin brothers, but he has certainly had an impressive career. Before joining his brothers to become an actor, Billy Baldwin was a star of high school wrestlers, and then a standout on the wrestling team at Binghamton University. As a matter of fact, he was inducted into the Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame
Forest Whitaker has earned a reputation as well-respected and talented athlete. What many people do not realize is that Whitaker actually attended school as a music major (he can sing opera!), or that he played college football at USC for two years. Fortunately for his fans, Forest Whitaker dropped both football and USC to study acting and music at UC Berkeley.
Ed Marinaro didn’t just dabble in football, he was a record setting athlete at Cornell University. In fact, he was a runner up to the Heisman trophy winner in 1971. After college, Ed played professional football in the NFL for 6 seasons. During those half dozen years, he made it to the Superbowl twice.
Today, Fred Dryer’s biggest claim to fame might be his title role in the detective series, Hunter. However, football fans fondly remember Dryer’s football career as well. He was a standout football player at San Diego State. After graduation Fred Dryer became respected athlete in the NFL. His career lasted for an impressive 13 years before he left the sport to pursue an entertainment career.
Anybody who was a professional football fan in the 1970s remembers Merlin Olsen as a member of the LA Rams, ‘Fearsome Foursome’ along with Rosey Grier. The name was earned due to the quartet’s reputation as being one of the toughest lines in NFL history. Before he played in the NFL, Olsen was a star of football players at Utah State. After football, Olsen acted in Little House on The Prairie and Father Murphy.
Terry Crews has appeared as the Old Spice Guy, a detective, and Chris Rock’s overworked father. He’s also worked with the Muppets. What many people may not know is that all of this was preceded by a very impressive athletic career. Terry Crews attended Western Michigan University on a full ride football scholarship. After college, Crews played professionally for the LA Rams, the Chargers, the Redskins, and the Eagles. He even spent time in Germany playing in the NFL – Europe league. The multitalented Crews also once displayed his writing skills by writing, producing, and directing a film in the mid nineties.
As an actor, Dennehy has played a corrupt cop in the first Rambo movie, played Chris Farley’s father in Tommy Boy, and earned multiple awards for his performances on both stage and screen. As a young man, Dennehy also showed a lot of promise as an athlete. He played football for both Columbia University and Yale.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
When you think of The Rock and sports, you probably think of his career as a major WWE star. What you may not realize is that Dwayne Johnson also had a decent stint as a college football player. He played for the University of Miami and had a role in the team earning a national championship. After graduation, he played for the Canadian Football League. Eventually, he returned to his birthright sport and became a professional wrestler.