National Football Foundation Release
IRVING, TEXAS -- Redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette (Covington, Ohio) and redshirt senior defensive lineman Andrew Payne (Danville, Ohio) represented the Ohio football program on the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame's list of 1,200 student-athletes who have already earned their undergraduate degrees and will be playing college football this fall while pursuing second diplomas.
Ouellette graduated from Ohio in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in specialized studies while Payne graduated in '18 with a bachelor's degree in specialized studies. Both are pursuing master's degrees in coaching education.
"The National Football Foundation takes great pride in its role as a leading voice in the promotion of the scholar-athlete," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "And highlighting the 1,200 student-athletes who have not only earned their undergraduate degrees but are now pursuing additional diplomas sends a powerful message about the doors that college football opens. This list allows us to showcase those individuals who have truly taken full advantage of the opportunities created by college football."
The NFF compiled the list with the help of athletics directors, faculty athletics representatives and sports information directors from all divisions who identified the players on their 2018 fall rosters who have already earned their undergraduate degrees. A total of 235 schools responded, creating the list of 1,200 student-athletes who are slated to play this year while pursuing additional diplomas.
The numbers include 836 players from 125 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), 220 players from 62 schools in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), 123 players from 34 schools in Division II, nine players from nine schools in Division III and 12 players from five schools in the NAIA.
"As an academic who cares about student-athlete success both on the field and in the classroom, it is tremendously exciting to know that there are 1,200 student-athletes who will be playing college football this fall who have already earned their undergraduate degrees," said Brian Shannon, president of 1A FAR who is a law professor and the faculty athletics representative (FAR) at Texas Tech University. "1A FAR, which is an organization of the FARs at all 129 FBS colleges and universities, is proud to join with the National Football Foundation in saluting these young men who have already achieved a major milestone in their lives and have chosen to continue their education while playing their sport."
Publishing a list of the graduates playing college football represents the latest addition to the NFF's list of initiatives designed to promote the scholar-athlete ideal, dating back to 1959 and the launch of the highly prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. The NFF has distributed more than $31 million in scholarships, including $11.3 million to 841 individuals via the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards and another $21 million through its nationwide Chapter Network.
Other key components of the NFF efforts to promote the scholar-athlete ideal include The William V. Campbell Trophy®, the NFF Campbell Trophy® Summit, the NFF Faculty Salutes presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete Awards and the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association.
"Today's release allows us to recognize a truly exceptional group of college football players," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "And it expands our efforts to highlight the integral role that college football has played in the education of millions of student-athletes over the years. It is often said that college is not about the four years on campus but the next 40 years of your career. Clearly those on this list have made the most of their college experiences, and we are extremely pleased to shine a light on their accomplishments."
Ohio (1-0) opened the 2018 season with a 38-32 victory over Howard last Saturday (Sept. 1) at Peden Stadium. Following a bye in week two, the Bobcats visit Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Virginia on Sept. 15. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. from Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. The contest can be seen on ACC Network Extra.