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Published: June 12, 2015 at 12:20 p.m.

15 for '15: College football's smartest players

» Complete 15 for '15 series

CFB 24/7's "15 for '15" series continues with a look at some of the smartest players in the college game. No, we didn't compare LSATs and MCATs to come up with this group, but we did add the requirement of significant on-field contributions. With a sampling of schools both big and small, and schools of varying academic reputations, here are 15 players who more than get the job done in the classroom.

15 Photos Total

  • <b>Editor's note:</b> This list was published before Duke revealed Brown would no longer play college football after <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000500283/article/duke-lb-kelby-browns-cfb-career-concludes-with-latest-injury">suffering a fourth ACL tear</a>. <b>|</b><br />
Brown is the Blue Devils' team captain and starter at middle linebacker. He missed last season with an injury, but was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA to return in 2015. He's made 242 career tackles and was an All-ACC performer in 2013. Academically, Brown earned his undergraduate degree a year ago, in evolutionary anthropology, with a 3.72 GPA. His GPA in graduate school is even stronger: 3.85. 15

    Chuck Burton / Associated Press

    15. Kelby Brown, LB, Duke

    Editor's note: This list was published before Duke revealed Brown would no longer play college football after suffering a fourth ACL tear. |
    Brown is the Blue Devils' team captain and starter at middle linebacker. He missed last season with an injury, but was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA to return in 2015. He's made 242 career tackles and was an All-ACC performer in 2013. Academically, Brown earned his undergraduate degree a year ago, in evolutionary anthropology, with a 3.72 GPA. His GPA in graduate school is even stronger: 3.85.

  • With a 4.0 GPA on a pre-med track, Locke has plenty to look forward to if football isn't in his future after college. The MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete logged 30 tackles for the Falcons last season and recovered a fumble against Big Ten power Wisconsin. 14

    BGSU Athletics

    14. Nate Locke, LB, Bowling Green

    With a 4.0 GPA on a pre-med track, Locke has plenty to look forward to if football isn't in his future after college. The MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete logged 30 tackles for the Falcons last season and recovered a fumble against Big Ten power Wisconsin.

  • Kelly, one of the top centers in the country and a candidate for the Rimington Trophy, has also put together quite an academic record. He picked up an undergraduate degree before last season started and is now plowing through a Master's degree in marketing, which he'll complete in December. His graduate-school GPA is a 4.0. All that, and he'll anchor Alabama's line as a third-year starter this fall. 13

    Dave Martin

    13. Ryan Kelly, OL, Alabama

    Kelly, one of the top centers in the country and a candidate for the Rimington Trophy, has also put together quite an academic record. He picked up an undergraduate degree before last season started and is now plowing through a Master's degree in marketing, which he'll complete in December. His graduate-school GPA is a 4.0. All that, and he'll anchor Alabama's line as a third-year starter this fall.

  • An economics major with a 3.41 grade-point average, Binns is a solid candidate for Academic All-American honors this fall and is a Capital One Academic All-District pick. He's logged 22 starts at left guard, a critical position in the Mids' option offense. 12

    Navy Athletics

    12. E.K. Binns, OL, Navy

    An economics major with a 3.41 grade-point average, Binns is a solid candidate for Academic All-American honors this fall and is a Capital One Academic All-District pick. He's logged 22 starts at left guard, a critical position in the Mids' option offense.

  • Harris is majoring in psychology, but will move on to medical school after graduating from Stanford. The former Pac-12 All-Academic pick made 29 tackles last season, including five for losses, and forced a fumble. 11

    Rick Scuteri / Associated Press

    11. Ronnie Harris, DB, Stanford

    Harris is majoring in psychology, but will move on to medical school after graduating from Stanford. The former Pac-12 All-Academic pick made 29 tackles last season, including five for losses, and forced a fumble.

  • Already with an undergraduate degree, Bercovici is working on a master's degree in Sports Law Administration. The Sun Devils' 2015 team captain is also a wiz with the ASU offense, and showed it last year in stepping in for injured quarterback Taylor Kelly. He passed for 12 touchdowns last season, including five against USC, and amassed 488 passing yards in his first career start against UCLA. 10

    Matt York / AP

    10. Mike Bercovici, QB, Arizona State

    Already with an undergraduate degree, Bercovici is working on a master's degree in Sports Law Administration. The Sun Devils' 2015 team captain is also a wiz with the ASU offense, and showed it last year in stepping in for injured quarterback Taylor Kelly. He passed for 12 touchdowns last season, including five against USC, and amassed 488 passing yards in his first career start against UCLA.

  • Along with a punting average of better than 42 yards, the Wildcats' senior-to-be averages a 4.0 in the classroom on a finance and marketing track. He was chosen as an Academic All-American last year. You want an on-field track record? He's logged more than 60 punts per year over the last three seasons and is on pace to finish his UK career with more than 250. 9

    Mark Humphrey / AP

    9. Landon Foster, P, Kentucky

    Along with a punting average of better than 42 yards, the Wildcats' senior-to-be averages a 4.0 in the classroom on a finance and marketing track. He was chosen as an Academic All-American last year. You want an on-field track record? He's logged more than 60 punts per year over the last three seasons and is on pace to finish his UK career with more than 250.

  • Boren is an Academic All-American and carries a 3.80 in sustainable plant systems. He's been selected as the Big Ten's Distinguished Scholar and is the youngest of three brothers to earn multiple varsity football letters. The Buckeyes' starting center enters 2015 with 15 career starts and is considered an inspirational figure in the team's offseason workout program. 8

    Ric Tapia / Special to NFL.com

    8. Jacoby Boren, OL, Ohio State

    Boren is an Academic All-American and carries a 3.80 in sustainable plant systems. He's been selected as the Big Ten's Distinguished Scholar and is the youngest of three brothers to earn multiple varsity football letters. The Buckeyes' starting center enters 2015 with 15 career starts and is considered an inspirational figure in the team's offseason workout program.

  • Here's where math can get complicated: Rush's path of study is in actuarial science, which provides the mathematical basis for the risk-projecting industries of insurance and finance. He does it to the tune of a 3.91 GPA as an Academic All-American. Aside from that, he threw 27 touchdown passes for the Chippewas last year and completed 63 percent of 382 passes. 7

    Charlie Riedel / AP

    7. Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan

    Here's where math can get complicated: Rush's path of study is in actuarial science, which provides the mathematical basis for the risk-projecting industries of insurance and finance. He does it to the tune of a 3.91 GPA as an Academic All-American. Aside from that, he threw 27 touchdown passes for the Chippewas last year and completed 63 percent of 382 passes.

  • The Bulldogs' starting right tackle is pursuing a mechanical engineering degree and carries a 3.81 GPA. Named to the Mountain West Conference All-Academic team the last two years, he is entering his third year as a starter and his fifth in the program. 6

    Gregory Bull / AP

    6. Justin Northern, OL, Fresno State

    The Bulldogs' starting right tackle is pursuing a mechanical engineering degree and carries a 3.81 GPA. Named to the Mountain West Conference All-Academic team the last two years, he is entering his third year as a starter and his fifth in the program.

  • Somehow, Adcock was smart enough to earn an undergraduate degree with not one but two years of playing eligibility remaining. With a 4.0 GPA and a Biology degree already in hand, Adcock enters his second year as a starter at right tackle after grading out at 99 percent as a blocker last season. 5

    UNM Communications

    5. Garrett Adcock, OL, New Mexico

    Somehow, Adcock was smart enough to earn an undergraduate degree with not one but two years of playing eligibility remaining. With a 4.0 GPA and a Biology degree already in hand, Adcock enters his second year as a starter at right tackle after grading out at 99 percent as a blocker last season.

  • Already a mechanical engineering graduate, the fifth-year senior (No. 78 above) now carries a 4.0 GPA as an MBA student. He's made Tech's dean's list five times. Braun started at left guard for the nation's No. 1-ranked rushing offense. You want pedigree? According to his school bio, both his parents are West Point grads. 4

    John Bazemore / AP

    4. Trey Braun, OL, Georgia Tech

    Already a mechanical engineering graduate, the fifth-year senior (No. 78 above) now carries a 4.0 GPA as an MBA student. He's made Tech's dean's list five times. Braun started at left guard for the nation's No. 1-ranked rushing offense. You want pedigree? According to his school bio, both his parents are West Point grads.

  • An Academic All-American, Robinson -- the son of Basketball Hall of Fame inductee David Robinson -- is only a junior this fall and has already earned the school's Rockne Student-Athlete Award. He carries a 3.83 GPA and has been on the school's dean's list every semester he's been there. Robinson caught 40 passes for 539 yards last season and played perhaps his best game against CFB playoff qualifier Florida State (eight catches, 99 yards, two TDs). 3

    Michael Conroy

    3. Corey Robinson, WR, Notre Dame

    An Academic All-American, Robinson -- the son of Basketball Hall of Fame inductee David Robinson -- is only a junior this fall and has already earned the school's Rockne Student-Athlete Award. He carries a 3.83 GPA and has been on the school's dean's list every semester he's been there. Robinson caught 40 passes for 539 yards last season and played perhaps his best game against CFB playoff qualifier Florida State (eight catches, 99 yards, two TDs).

  • The Volunteers' starting quarterback and the program's single best hope for a quicker turnaround is an aerospace engineering major. While he was commanding the UT offense in spring practice, his class schedule included a course in thermodynamics, one on circuit components, and a third that sounds like lots of fun: matrix computations. Our matrix computes that football is elementary for Dobbs. 2

    Wade Payne / Associated Press

    2. Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

    The Volunteers' starting quarterback and the program's single best hope for a quicker turnaround is an aerospace engineering major. While he was commanding the UT offense in spring practice, his class schedule included a course in thermodynamics, one on circuit components, and a third that sounds like lots of fun: matrix computations. Our matrix computes that football is elementary for Dobbs.

  • The chemistry major on a medical track is carrying a 3.978 GPA, having made an A in every course he's taken with one B-plus exception. A first-team Academic All-American last year, Italiano also picked up the MAC's distinguished scholar-athlete award. On the field, he made 96 tackles and three interceptions as an inspiring leader on the Flashes' defense. 1

    Ken Blaze / USA TODAY Sports

    1. Jordan Italiano, DB, Kent State

    The chemistry major on a medical track is carrying a 3.978 GPA, having made an A in every course he's taken with one B-plus exception. A first-team Academic All-American last year, Italiano also picked up the MAC's distinguished scholar-athlete award. On the field, he made 96 tackles and three interceptions as an inspiring leader on the Flashes' defense.

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