College Athletes Who Returned To The Game…Sort Of

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College sports is like your typical high school TV drama, except that instead of going two seasons too far, the career of a college athlete is always going to end at season four. Often it’s the perfect climax, the perfect farewell – which naturally makes us want more out of the heroes we became so fervently attached to over the previous four years.

Luckily for us, some of our favorite college athletes make their return in a recurring role. That is, they become coaches, trainers, sportscasters or something else that allows us to see a former fan-favorite make their triumphant return, but in a slightly different role. In that spirit, here is a list of 10 former college athletes who found a second life in the campus athletic arena:

Jay Williams

The 2002 Naismith Player of the Year was unstoppable in his day. Perhaps the greatest moment of his (or any) college career was his absurd performance in the Miracle Minute, when the former Duke point guard scored eight points in 14 seconds to help erase a 10-point deficit with only a minute left to play. Williams led an incredibly improbable victory against their bitter rivals, the Maryland Terrapins.

If it wasn’t for a horrific motorcycle crash, Williams likely would have ended up emerging as one of the NBA’s top point guards. After spending four unmemorable years in the pros, Williams returned to the collegiate world as a basketball analyst for ESPN.

Cael Sanderson

I actually have only ever heard of one collegiate wrestler ever, and his name is Cael Sanderson. In addition to having a name that sounds like it’s straight out of the Book of Leviticus, Sanderson was undoubtedly the greatest college wrestler of all- time.

In four years at Iowa State, the 2004 Olympic champion won four consecutive NCAA titles, finishing 159-0 for his career. That’s like what Patriots almost did a few years ago, plus like 8.3 more seasons. Sanderson is once again hitting the mats, though this time it’s as the head coach of college wrestling powerhouse Penn State.

Quint Kessenich

There is a select group of lacrosse players whose names scream lax bro so loudly that it’s impossible to ever imagine someone with that name doing anything else with their lives. Among this group of immortals includes current University of Virginia standout Steele Stanwick, late 90s great Casey Powell, and last but not least, former Johns Hopkins goalie and current ABC and ESPN sportscaster Quint Kessenich.

Gerry McNamara

Most people know Gerry McNamara from either that ridiculous Big East Tournament run he put on a few years back, or that Bing Crosby song that’s kind of catchy and should definitely be played more on days other than St. Patrick’s Day.

Despite being one the greatest players in Syracuse’s illustrious basketball history, McNamara never made it in the pros. Instead, he’s taken his impressive basketball IQ back to the Carrier Dome, where he serves as an assistant coach.

Jesse Palmer

Before he was busy being “The Bachelor”/having the most formidable flip in hair gel history, Jesse Palmer was a stud quarterback for the Florida Gators. Palmer, who split time with the best subpar quarterback in NFL history (Rex Grossman), finished his Gator career with 3,755 passing yards.

You could find Palmer on College Football Live most weekday afternoons during the fall, where college kids who don’t feel like going to class continue to wonder when Matt Leinart will inevitably take Palmer’s place as football’s premier socialite.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Unless you are counting his role in the upcoming movie “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" as an athletic endeavor, the former Miami Hurricanes linebacker is technically no longer in the collegiate sports world. However, Johnson’s perplexing ability to star in every single movie that zero people want to see was more than enough for him to qualify on this list.

Either that, or I’m-not-so secretly wishing he makes a career move back to the collegiate arena. Rock, your streak of horrendous movies is impressive…too impressive.

Kara Wolters

Prior to the NCAA tournament every year, ESPN generally airs a bunch of commercials to advertise their airing of the women’s tournament. They usually supplement said commercial with a song from an upcoming and predominately female pop-punk band with somewhat of an attitude, such as Paramore or Saving Jane. While this has little to do with former UConn Lady Husky superstar Kara Wolters, the majority of these advertising campaigns over the past few years have concluded with a UConn Husky national championship.

While Wolters only accrued one title in her college career, she has narrated quite a few. Wolters is currently the color commentator for women’s basketball games on WTIC (AM), the flagship station of UConn’s radio network.

Tim Mickelson

Yes, Phil Mickelson has a brother. While Phil has been racking up PGA Tour victories (and Entourage appearances), Tim has quietly become one of the best golf coaches in recent memory.

The other Mickelson recently accepted the head coaching position at Arizona State University following a highly successful run at the University of South Dakota, and is apparently out to build a golfing dynasty.  

Greg Paulus

Paulus might have been the most hated Duke basketball player of all time, which is a pretty incredible accomplishment. While the highly touted recruit never reached superstar status, his athletic versatility helped make waves in the football world following his basketball career.

If one thing has been clear from Paulus’ various athletic escapades, it was his passionate, undying vocal leadership. After a brief stint as a basketball assistant at Navy, Paulus took a job as a video coordinator for the Ohio State basketball team last summer. From the looks of it, Paulus appears to be on the fast track to a career in coaching. And if his college career was of any indication, the world best watch out.

Kirk Herbstreit

Contrary to popular belief, Herbie didn’t simply descend from heaven to appear at a College GameDay booth. He actually played quarterback for Ohio State, where he served as team captain his senior season.

While it’s hard to believe that this actually happened and that Herbstreit didn’t spend the majority of his college days scheming how he could get a meaningless awards show aired on ESPN every year, these are the facts.

Senior > Georgetown

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