What do college football stars study?

December, 20, 2012
12/20/12
3:00
PM ET
Johnny ManzielThomas Campbell/US PresswireContrary to popular myth and stereotype, college football stars like Johnny Manziel actually do go to class.
College remains a vital part of college football for many of the sport's biggest names as they prepare for bowl season, the NFL draft or in some cases, the rest of their non-football lives.

Heisman Trophy winner, AP College Football Player of the Year and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel made a stop on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno on Monday and gave the host a rundown of his classes this semester.

Manziel, a redshirt freshman and business major who enrolled at Texas A&M in January of 2011, had just taken his final in economics. "That sucks," said Leno. Manziel said he thought he did "all right" on the test. His other classes this past semester included architecture, political science, economics and kinesiology, or a "sociology in sports" class.

"Kinesiology, oh that's Japanese paper folding," Leno quipped.

Contrary to popular myth and stereotype, college football players do go to class. And their studies are much more serious, if not challenging, than paper folding. At the Home Depot College Football Awards in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., ESPN Playbook asked several of the top college football players in the nation to name their favorite class in college.

Here's our class roll call (listed in alphabetical order, naturally):

[+] EnlargeMontee Ball
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireMontee Ball enjoyed his military science class at Wisconsin.
Player: Montee Ball, runnning back
School: University of Wisconsin

Favorite class: Military Science

Why: "I had the opportunity every day to listen to a guy who has done it who has been over there and done some great things for this country. … We went outside and walked a lot. It was a different class."

Extra credit: Ball, who won the Doak Walker Award and was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, scored 76 touchdowns and gained 5,040 yards in his four seasons for the Badgers. He took military science as a freshman.

Bowl: Wisconsin and Stanford face off in the Rose Bowl Presented by Vizio on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.



Player: Kenjon Barner, running back
School: University of Oregon

Favorite class: Gender Studies

Why: "You're in a class with 50-something women and there's maybe me and three other guys. So I kind of just sat back and didn't say too much. I just sat back and enjoyed the class and only spoke when the teacher asked me to. Learning what women went through over time, which is, I don't want to compare it to slavery or even bring that into this context, but they were very oppressed. They didn't have rights at all. And the rights they thought they had were what men wanted them to. Learning that, and an understanding of the history of the women's movement and of feminists, that was pretty cool. I got a B, so they didn't discriminate against men in the class."

Extra credit: Barner is a junior criminology major and was a Doak Walker Award finalist.

Bowl: Oregon and Kansas State meet in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 3.



Player: Kyle Christy, punter
School: University of Florida

Favorite class: Statics

Why: "It’s an introduction to engineering class. I just really like the teacher. It makes me think outside the box but it doesn’t really help me with football.”

Extra credit: Christy is a sophomore and was a Ray Guy Award finalist. His classes resume in Gainesville, Fla., five days after the Sugar Bowl.

Bowl: The Gators play Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.



Player: Jonathan Cooper, offensive guard
School: University of North Carolina

Favorite class: Drama

Why: "Early on, I took drama course that I enjoyed. I fancy myself a thespian. So it was interesting. I'm a shy person, initially. It taught me to express myself and get out of my comfort zone."

Extra credit: The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Cooper was a unanimous All-America selection and Outland Trophy finalist.

Bowl: None. North Carolina finished 8-4 this season but was bowl ineligible due to NCAA probation.



[+] EnlargeTyler Eifert
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireNotre Dame TE Tyler Eifert got hands-on business experience in his problem solving class.
Player: Tyler Eifert, tight end
School: University of Notre Dame

Favorite class: Business Problem Solving

Why: "The professor [Chris Stevens] is a former basketball player and made the class really enjoyable. He was one of the founders of Keurig so he really knows business firsthand. It wasn't your typical 'sit there and write notes off PowerPoints.' There were a lot of discussions and putting us in situations where you'll be in, in the business world. We did several case studies -- one on Keurig and one on XM Radio and one for McDonald's -- where we acted like consultants."

Extra credit: Eifert won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end but didn't say if they got free coffee. Eifert and his teammates were preparing for final exams and Alabama simultaneously earlier this month. Eifert called it "a crazy time."

Bowl: Notre Dame plays Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami.




Player: Johnathan Franklin, running back
School: UCLA

Favorite class: Theater

Why: "I took it junior year with my teammates to see who could act. We had a lot of fun clowning around. We did a lot of improvisation. I played Romeo in a skit, that was pretty fun. Unfortunately, I didn't do anything with Juliet afterward."

Extra credit: Franklin was a Doak Walker Award finalist this year as a senior and gained 1,700 yards on 268 carries this season (6.3 avg.), scoring 13 touchdowns.

Bowl: The Bruins play Baylor in the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Calif., on Dec. 27.



Player: Dustin Hopkins, kicker
School: Florida State University

Favorite class: Rhetoric of Didactic Literature

Why: "We basically took some television shows and some narratives and sports books, like 'Friday Night Lights,' and studied how they tied into culture. My teacher was a cool cat. One of the shows we studied was 'Glee.' We learned how high-school culture has changed and how media has influenced the perception of what's cool. And about social norms and how they've changed in the past 20 years."

Extra credit: A Lou Groza Award finalist, Hopkins got his undergraduate degree in media/communications and is seeking a master's degree in international affairs.

Bowl: FSU and Northern Illinois play in the Jan. 1 Discover Orange Bowl in Miami.



Player: Luke Joeckel, left tackle
School: Texas A&M

Favorite class: Business Interaction

Why: "We worked with several consulting firms -- [retired Lieutenant] General [John A.] Van Alstyne was a great teacher. He was in the Army and was commandant of the corps of cadets. I really enjoyed his class. I'm thinking about getting into advertising. I'm in a great advertising class right now."

Extra credit: The Outland Trophy Winner and unanimous All-America choice, Joeckel was a big reason why "Johnny Football" was able to amass 4,600 total yards this season and become "Johnny Heisman." Joeckel, at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, is a junior business major who said he will soon decide whether or not to enter the NFL draft.

Bowl: Manziel, Joeckel and the Aggies will put their high-octane offense (they average 44.8 points per game) up against Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Jan. 3 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.



Player: Barrett Jones, offensive lineman
School: University of Alabama

Favorite class: Accounting

Why: “I love accounting. That’s my major. Really all my accounting classes. I really, really liked them. It’s hard to pick one out. I enjoy working with numbers and learning with numbers. I’m not really an accountant but I majored in it.”

Extra Credit: The 2011 Outland Trophy winner (he was a 2012 finalist) stands 6-foot-5, weighs 305 pounds and can play center, guard or tackle. Barrett is used to some big numbers in the classroom as well. He graduated with a 4.0 GPA in August 2011 and has kept his 4.0 average in grad school.

Bowl: Alabama plays Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami.



[+] EnlargeJarvis Jones
Dale Zanine/US PresswireIronically, Jarvis Jones was the only male in his diversity class.
Player: Jarvis Jones, linebacker
School: University of Georgia

Favorite class: Diversity

Why: "I was the only male in the class out of 40-something females. I tried not to say much. I mean 1-to-40 is a lose-lose situation. We touched on a lot of different things in class. Not just racism, but the differences between males and females. Just learning the basics of so many diverse ways in our culture and the racism in life in our country. A lot of females get taken advantage of in a lot of ways because they don’t get the same opportunities as males get. There are a lot of jobs that males do that females don’t get a chance to do. That's changing, but not enough."

Extra credit: Jones is a human development and family science major and passing the Diversity course is required for him to receive his degree. He was awaiting his grade when he spoke to Playbook but was hoping for a B. He was finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award.

Bowl: The Bulldogs will represent the SEC in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1 against Big Ten foe Nebraska.



Player: Collin Klein, quarterback
School: Kansas State University

Favorite classes: Business (entire course load)

Why: “I have been really fortunate to have a lot of great professors and students I’m still in touch with. People just throw the 'K-State Family' name around, but it really means a lot. I’m on a first-name basis with a lot of professors in the business college. They ask about me. That means a lot. The classes all kind of stack on another. So many people have invested so much in me. I can’t pick one.”

Extra credit: Klein, who is married, had a 4.0 GPA as an academic senior, graduated with a degree in finance in December of 2011 and is pursuing his master's degree. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Klein plays the violin and piano but did not take any music classes at K-State.

Bowl: Kansas State and Oregon battle in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 3.



Player: DeMarcus Milliner, cornerback
School: University of Alabama

Favorite class: Math 100

Why: "I had never done math on a computer or without a teacher. You had to teach yourself. It helped me out and I learned a lot. But there's a lot of old math you haven't seen since freshman year in high school so you have to go back and re-teach yourself things you haven't seen in a bit."

Extra credit: Milliner is a junior majoring in communications and was a unanimous All-America pick as well as a Jim Thorpe Award finalist in 2012.

Bowl: Alabama plays Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami.



Player: Cairo Santos, kicker
School: Tulane University

Favorite class: Legal Studies

Why: "There was a legal studies professor who was really cool. He'd tell the class about me and make jokes. The legal system in the U.S. works about the same as Brazil. If NFL doesn't work out, I plan to use my business degree to help my dad run his construction business in Brazil."

Extra credit: Dad might have to wait. Santos won the Lou Groza Award, was a consensus All-America pick and went 21-for-21 on field goal attempts this season.

Bowl: None. Tulane finished 2-10.



Player: Caleb Sturgis, kicker
School: University of Florida

Favorite class: Accounting

Why: “The first accounting class I took in grad school was the most practical class I’ve ever taken. Just the way we broke down things and actually went through balance sheets, income statements and cash flows. Got an A in that class, that’s probably why I enjoyed it.”

Extra credit: A Lou Groza Award finalist, Sturgis received his degree in sports management in 2011 and was on track to complete the coursework required for his master’s in management this month.

Bowl: The Gators play Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.



Player: Manti Te'o, linebacker
School: University of Notre Dame

Favorite class: Graphics Design

Why: “I really enjoyed my graphics design and my three-dimensional design classes. That’s always been an interest of mine. It was a toss-up between graphic design and industrial design and I just had more of a feel for graphic design. All my work is with my professor. It’s not that great. It’s more a work in progress."

Extra credit: A unanimous All-America pick, Te'o was the Walter Camp Player of the Year, won the Chuck Bednarik, Dick Butkus, Bronko Nagurski and Vince Lombardi/Rotary Awards and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Bowl: Notre Dame plays Alabama play in the Discover BCS National Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami.

Bill Speros is an ESPN.com contributor. He can be reached on Twitter @billsperos or via e-mail at bsperos1@gmail.com.

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