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Top 15 Celebs You Didn't Know Excelled at College Sports

It should not be surprising that many celebrities are incredibly talented. After all, we see them completely transform themselves in what seems like an instant to accurately portray whatever role they have taken on. It may be surprising to learn, however, that many celebrities were not just talented actors while in high school and college, but also talented athletes as well. It makes sense though, as the same qualities that make someone a successful athlete can be applied to achieve success in all other aspects of life as well.

For many of the celebrities on this list, a simple twist of fate helped to push them in the direction that would lead them to fame. Many suffered injuries that prematurely ended their athletic careers and forced them to consider a future elsewhere. For others, the pull of fame was already drawing them in, and many left their academic and athletic careers behind in order to pursue what they felt was their calling.

The celebrities on this list played in a diverse array of sports, including soccer, hockey, basketball and wrestling, but the list is certainly dominated by football players. Perhaps there is something about the gridiron that prepares an individual for the life of a celebrity, or perhaps it is simply a mere matter of coincidence. Regardless of the reason, what follows are 15 celebrities who excelled at collegiate athletics well before moving on to the careers that would ultimately make them famous.

15 15. Steve Carell

via ESPN.com

The star of The Office and the Anchorman movies, Carell grew up in Massachusetts as a very serious hockey player. A goalie, Carell had an opportunity to play at the Division-I level, but instead opted to play for a Division-III school at Denison University, according to ESPN. He has said that he realized in high school he had to either commit to hockey full-time as a potential career or simply keep playing for the fun of it. He choose the latter, and still plays in a recreational league in Orange County, California.

14 14. Rick Ross

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Before earning fame as a rapper, William Leonard Roberts II earned a football scholarship to Albany State University. This was, of course, before he adopted the name he would come to be known by, but despite being a talented football player, Ross only lasted a single season at Albany State University, according to TheUrbanDaily. There would be other stops along the way before Ross achieved fame in the music industry, as he also worked as a corrections officer for 18 months.

13 13. Josh Duhamel

James Bridges

12 12. Billy Baldwin

via givingworks.ebay.com

11 11. Joel McHale

via ESPN.com

10 10. 2 Chainz

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

9 9. John Goodman

via flickeringmyth.com

8 8. Burt Reynolds

via biography.com

7 7. Phil Robertson

via duckcommander.com

6 6. Jon Stewart

via indiewire.com

5 5. Denzel Washington

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

4 4. Mark Harmon

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

3 3. Tommy Lee Jones

Photo Credit: Jessica Forde

2 2. Suge Knight

via bet.com

1 1. Ed O’Neill 

via fanpop.com

Playing Al Bundy on Married With Children, O’Neill’s character frequently referenced his football exploits while playing for Polk High, often noting how he once scored four touchdowns in one game. In a case of art (if you can all Married With Children art) imitating life, O’Neill actually had a collegiate football career, earning a scholarship to Ohio University before transferring to Youngstown State. A defensive end, O’Neill was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, though he was ultimately cut during training camp. Fortunately for O’Neill, he would achieve acclaim for his acting in a variety of roles, including most recently as the pater familias on Modern Family.

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Top 15 Celebs You Didn't Know Excelled at College Sports