UCLA students are accustomed to seeing future professional athletes in class and around campus. But current pros? They are far more rare.
So you can imagine students' surprise when they saw Maurice Jones-Drew roll up to one of their classes.
The Jacksonville Jaguars running back, who played at UCLA for three years before going on to star in the NFL, was back on campus to carry out a promise he made to his grandmother -- that he would earn his college degree. It doesn't hurt that the NFL sponsors a back-to-school program, so the league and the Jaguars are paying for all of Jones-Drew's education (not that he couldn't afford it, seeing as he's made $30 million over the past four years).
Jones-Drew decided that this offseason was the perfect opportunity to take care of some of his final requirements. He is recovering from surgery to repair a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot, so in addition to studying he was receiving treatment from UCLA's medical staff.
And even though he's only 28, Jones-Drew said going back to school made him feel much older.
"So much has changed," he told Sports Illustrated. "When I first came back everyone was taking notes on laptops and iPads. They're like, 'I can type faster than I can write.' What? I was the only one in my class to pull out a pencil and notebook. I mean, I'm about to turn 28, but I felt like a dinosaur. I was so behind the times, and everybody was so young. They just looked young."
To complete his college experience, Jones-Drew lived in a freshman dormitory. He got along well with his suite mates, and he even knew all their names. If being a Pro Bowl running back didn't already make him the coolest guy on his floor, it probably didn't hurt that he had a 46-inch Plasma TV in his room.
Jones-Drew returned to Florida after finishing this term's classes, which he said were nearly too difficult to complete.
"I almost just stopped coming," he told Sports Illustrated. "It was too hard. I thought they were going to ease me back in, but they didn't. It was crazy. But it would have been too easy to say 'to hell with this' and go on about your day. I'm glad I stuck it out."