13 Actors You Didn't Know Played College Football

They were stars on the gridiron long before they starred in classic movies and TV shows.

College football season starts this weekend, and many of the players you'll see on Saturdays, you'll eventually see on Sundays -- unless you see them on "Saturday Night Live" first. Here's a list of some surprising actors who were on the gridiron before graduating to Hollywood.

1. Joel McHale, University of Washington

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There's a reason why Joel McHale is constantly shirtless on "Community." The funnyman and noted Seahawks fan was a tight end at University of Washington. From the looks of him, McHale could still catch a ball over the middle today.

2. Bill Cosby, Temple University

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Bill Cosby

Seriously. The Jell-O-pitching, zip-zap-zoopity comedian who is the definition of cuddly was also a fierce blocking back for Temple University in the 1960s. Sadly he wore a regular uniform, not a colorful sweater.

3. James Caan, Michigan State

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Caan is known for two things: Spawning Scott Caan, and being shot 100 times at a tollbooth in "The Godfather." One of the most famous Corleones was also a Spartan, playing for Michigan State. He also portrayed a football player in front of the camera a few times, most notably in "Brian's Song."

4. Matthew Fox, Columbia University

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The "Lost" star played football at Columbia University, though any sports fan knows Ivy League football is the RC Cola of college football. During Fox's first three years with the Lions, the team went 0-30. Did they play the smoke monster every week?

5. Burt Reynolds, Florida State

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Burt Reynolds

There's a reason why Reynolds is so convincing as a football player in "The Longest Yard”: He attended Florida State on a football scholarship, and actually had pro aspirations before an injury derailed his career. Strange that the man who played "Gator" McCluskey was a Seminole and not a Florida Gator.

6. Dwayne Johnson, University of Miami

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"The Rock” was a key player for the Miami Hurricanes and won an NCAA championship in 1991, but he's certainly more famous for his other athletic endeavors. No, not "Gridiron Gang." No, definitely not "The Game Plan." The WWE, dummy!

7. Ed O'Neill, Youngstown State

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The patriarch from "Modern Family" has made a career playing blue collar guys, and it makes sense given that O'Neill played for Youngstown (OH) State and nearly made camp with the blue collar Pittsburgh Steelers. Good thing the Steelers cut him, otherwise the world would have never known the glory of "Married... With Children."

8. Terry Crews, Western Michigan

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That's right -- the guy who looks like a football player was, in fact, a football player. The "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star played for Western Michigan and even played a few seasons in the NFL before breaking out as a comedic actor. This just confirms that, yes, Terry Crews can kick your ass.

9. Carl Weathers, San Diego State

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"Action Jackson" fought opposing QBs before taking on Predator. Weathers played at San Diego State University and in the NFL before becoming the best guest star on "Arrested Development."

10. Forest Whitaker, Cal Poly Pomona

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Whitaker attended Cal Poly Pomona on a football scholarship while simultaneously majoring in voice and drama. Did his teammates make fun of him? Not if they could've seen his moves in "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai."

11. Nick Nolte, Arizona State

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Nolte got a football scholarship to Arizona State, although he never graduated due to...well, look at the photo.

12. Dean Cain, Princeton

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Dean Cain is handsome, went to Princeton, played football, then played Superman on "Lois & Clark." Honestly? Not bad, Dean. Not bad at all.

13. Josh Duhamel, Minot State

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Duhamel is handsome, went to Minot State University to play quarterback and married Fergie. If his last name weren't so difficult to pronounce, that's not a bad Dean Cain impersonation.