Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was easily the most exciting player in college football last year and was rewarded with the Heisman Trophy. But his stop at three colleges in four years - along with allegations that his family had sought money from recruiters - made it hard for anyone to refer to him as a student athlete with a straight face. Newton viewed school as a means to get to the NFL, not an opportunity for intellectual inquiry.
But a year later, three of the top candidates for the Heisman, including Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, aren't just serious about academics, they're accelerating their studies.
We've all heard Wilson's story by now and how he was able to transfer to Wisconsin without losing a year because he had already earned a bachelor's in communications from North Carolina State. He's now holding court at his own weekly press conference, displaying as much confidence and charisma behind the mike as he does out of the shotgun formation.
Baylor's Robert Griffin III - affectionately nicknamed RG3 by Bears fans - might be even more impressive than Wilson. He has the highest completion percentage in the country (78% to Wilson's 74.2%) and has thrown for 22 touchdowns. The redshirt junior already has a political science degree, will complete a master's in communications this spring and plans on starting law school, part-time, next fall, assuming he doesn't depart for the NFL.
And of course there's quarterback Andrew Luck, who would have competed with Newton to be the top player drafted last spring if he hadn't returned to Stanford to complete an architectural design degree this spring. Fans of winless NFL teams are so enamored of the prospect of drafting the redshirt junior that they're creating Internet campaigns imploring their squads to "Suck for Luck."