Kent State safety named NFL’s smartest college football player

Jordan Italiano, was named NFLs smartest player in college football. 

Jordan Italiano, was named NFL’s smartest player in college football. 

Shayla Pierce

Jordan Italiano, a senior safety for the Kent State football team, was named “smartest player in college football” in’s 15 for ’15 series released last week.

On a pre-medical/biochemistry track, Italiano managed to keep a 3.978 GPA going into his fourth year at Kent State.

After being ranked fifth in the 14 for ‘14 series, Italiano said he was pretty excited to move all the way up to the top spot.

Italiano said it is all about the balance between football and school, which is not always easy.  With his GPA accomplishments, Italiano enters his senior season with 195 tackles, five forced fumbles and four intercepted passes in his career. 

“There is so much time we put into football over the season, and then to try and manage all of your time to finish your homework and study for tests is the most difficult part,” Italiano said.

With a set schedule for football, Italiano plans his days accordingly, figuring out what needs to get accomplished for that day.

“He has come in with the type of work ethic that you rarely see, it is very unique,” said Talea Drummer, assistant athletic director for student athlete success. “He is one of those students you knew hewas smart and you knew he wanted to work hard.”

For two consecutive years, Italiano made the Academic All-America teams, being only one of three Mid-American Conference players to do so.

Alongside those honors, Italiano also earned the Leo Strang Award this year for having the highest cumulative team GPA as an upperclassman. He was also named to both Athlon and Phil Steele’s Preseason All-MAC Second Team.

“He is a guy that has been consistent over such a long period of time,” said Jeff Burrow, the safeties coach, who has a hard time believing Italiano wouldn’t make the Capital One Academic All-America team, for a third year in a row.

Burrow also said he tells his student-athletes that to be successful, they’ll miss out on some of their college experience. Burrow said he encourages his young athletes to use Italiano as an example.

“He has given up a lot. He chose to push those aside for something better,” Burrow said. “He works today the same way he worked when he came in as a true freshman.” 

Italiano said his parents stayed on him about schoolwork, which helped him manage both football and his academics at Kent State.

“As I was raised my parents just always made sure I did well academically, and I think it just carried over to when I was in college,” Italiano said.

Contact Shayla Pierce at [email protected]