Two football teams face against each other in differing red and white uniforms

A Look at Where Pro Football Players Went to College

Are you a big football plan? Well, do you know where your favorite athletes went to college? Check out these five big-name football players and their higher education alma maters.

While we may view our favorite pro athletes as gifted and talented, many of them went to college just like millions of other civilians. Whether they started at community college like Philadelphia Eagle’s cornerback Darius Slay Jr. or attended a top-notch university on a full-ride scholarship like Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool, these phenomenal athletes didn’t just put in the work at the gym and on the field—they started by putting school first. Here’s a look at five amazing athletes’ careers and their alma maters.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts: The University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma

Drafted as the53rd pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, Jalen Hurts had every Sooners fan on their feet during the 2019 season playing for the University of Oklahoma. But he started off his football career majoring in Communication at the University of Alabama from 2016–2018 before transferring to Oklahoma in 2019. Hurts was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and signed a $6 million, four-year contract. As of right now, he’s the new starting quarterback for the Eagles, replacing Carson Wentz, who played four seasons on a $128 million contract.

Related: A Look at the Biggest College Athletic Conferences

Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb: The University of Oklahoma

You’ve probably heard of CeeDee Lamb, arguably the top steal of the 2020 wide receiver’s class. Lamb was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as the 17th overall pick of the season. He majored in Communication and played football all four years of college at the University of Oklahoma—including one season with Jalen Hurts. Lamb proved to have the greatest hands, especially for a rookie, with 74 catches for 934 yards. As of today, he’s one of the Cowboys’ lead receivers and has a four-year, $14 million contract.

Linebacker TJ Watt: The University of Wisconsin

The last name Watt might seem very familiar—TJ Watt is the younger brother of JJ and Derek Watt. TJ has quickly made a name for himself in the NFL, being voted to represent the American Football Conference (AFC) in the Pro Bowl for three seasons in a row as well as being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. He played football for the University of Wisconsin and majored in Retailing & Consumer Behavior. For the 2020 season, TJ had the most sacks with 15, as well as 43 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one interception. He was drafted in 2017 and had a four-year, $9 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the NFL’s greatest defense teams.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Tailgating in College

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs: The University of Maryland

Stefon Diggs played football for three seasons at the University of Maryland from 2012–2014 while majoring in American Studies. He entered the 2015 NFL draft and was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings in the fifth round as the 146th pick, though he now plays for the Buffalo Bills. Diggs has made the playoffs, lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the conference championships, and averages $15.9 million per year. According to ESPN, he can run 23 miles per hour.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: Miami University

As a Steelers fan, I personally consider Ben Roesthlisberger—Big Ben—to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, along with Drew Brees. He graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in Education. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 11th overall pick and is currently the last actively playing quarterback of the 2004 Miami U class. Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls in his career: Super Bowl XL (2006) and XLII (2009). In the 2020 season, he had a winning streak of 11–0 before it was broken by the Washington Football Team. Roethlisberger’s seasonal rates for the 2020–2021 season include 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.

Related: 4 College Search Tips for Student-Athletes

Every pro athlete has their own story. Each of these stars started playing college football and worked hard by training any chance they got. But they made it big by choosing to do more than just throw all their effort into sports; they chose the school where they felt the most comfortable, one they felt would bring out the best in them every time they stepped onto the field. You can follow in the footsteps of these great athletes by choosing the college or university with the best academics, sports, and health benefits for you—a school that makes you feel at home. 

Want to read more about football? We have a ton of great blogs, articles, and lists about sports in our College Athletics section! 


Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

athletics college athletics football football players sports student-athletes

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Rhiannon Teeter

Rhiannon Teeter

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2012

I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

Nazira Abdelkhalek

Nazira Abdelkhalek

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2014

I am very honored to be this year’s recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship! This scholarship is vital to helping me achieve and fulfill my dreams, and gives me confidence and motivation as I begin my college career. The CollegeXpress website has been invaluable over the past year as I planned my educational and professional goals. I highly recommend it to all students as they begin to focus on their college and career interests. The website is a wonderful guide to schools and scholarships.

Kyla McClain

Kyla McClain

High School Class of 2024

I found CollegeXpress when you partnered with for a scholarship. I found your website, put my information in, and got connected. I only wanted to stay in North Carolina [for college] and not move far from home, but you all opened a door up for me. I started researching colleges you suggested for me. On your social media platforms, you also give really good test-taking tips that I used and suggested others to do the same. It helped me a lot on my exams, so thank you.

Asia Stockdale

Asia Stockdale

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me overcome a huge hurdle. Because of the small town I live in, I felt like I would never achieve more. I felt like I could never go beyond because of costs. I feared I wouldn’t be able to find scholarships. I had no idea of where to start. With CollegeXpress, I easily found scholarships—they came to me. It was a helper, and I was instantly matched with opportunities to go above and beyond educationally.

Carlie Cadet

Carlie Cadet

High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me learn about an abundance of scholarships available to me and my situation. I was able to do research for colleges in my best interest with your website. I've had multiple colleges email me and offer me multiple scholarships and things of that nature because of this website! Thank you so much for uploading scholarships I didn’t even know existed, even if my life took a huge turn and I wasn’t able to go to college straight out of high school. CollegeXpress helped me a lot in high school to be even more motivated to get into my dream college (which I did, by the way). I'm looking forward to using the materials CollegeXpress has kindly provided me for free to look for scholarships to help pay for college.

College Matches