R.J. Prince has spent his first two seasons at North Carolina fighting for a job on the offensive line. He has always looked the part. At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, he's a giant, with a long reach and ferocious power. The potential is obvious, and Prince is hoping it eventually translates to a career in the NFL.
But that's a tough road, he admits, so it's always good to have a Plan B. It's just that Prince's second option isn't exactly a career working an office job.
"Wrestling is actually my backup plan," he said. "The training aspect of it, it's the same we do here. I think it wouldn't be that different."
Prince has been a wrestling fan most of his life, and he takes it seriously. Last year, he bought an official championship belt online -- it weighs nearly 10 pounds -- and he keeps it in his locker. There are regular matches set up with teammates hoping to take the belt away, but it has never happened. Once, a group of the defensive backs teamed up -- Royal Rumble-style -- to bring Prince down, but he shrugged off the defeat by noting that he'd never agreed it was a championship bout.
In other words, Prince knows the routine.
Growing up, he loved The Undertaker ("He scared the crap out of me," Prince said) and now he's cultivating his own dark character. He's currently toying with the name D.D. Blaze. With his hulking frame and deep voice, it's not hard to envision him playing the part to great acclaim.
And, of course, Prince wouldn't be the first to make the transition from football to the ring.
"The two go hand in hand," he said. "Goldberg, JBL [John Layfield]. It's just the nature of the two. Football and wrestling are a tough man's sport."
For now, with Wrestlemania 32 just a few days away, it's just fun, Prince said, something to keep teammates entertained in the locker room. He wrestled some in middle school, going undefeated in his lone season before turning his attention entirely to football. But that fire still burns -- the passion, the fury, the showmanship.
For Prince, wrestling is a legitimate career path following football. That's probably not the case for the rest of these players, but their skill sets -- size, strength, agility, personality -- all would lend well to a career in the ring, too. Here are seven other current college football stars who'd make great WWE talents, and we even threw in a wrestler they could emulate.
On the football field: All-American defensive end who has racked up 24 sacks in his first two seasons with the Aggies.
In the ring: At 6-5, 262 pounds, Garrett has the size and strength to dominate in the ring, but his athleticism for a big man is what sets him apart. When we took an informal poll of college football writers, asking which player could most easily transition from the field to the ring, Garrett was the runaway favorite -- not that he's convinced of the career path. "It's awfully nice that people would think of me," he said. "But if professional football does not work out, I hope to put my passion about helping other people into practice. Just doing humanitarian work, or digging fossils somewhere. Haven't really thought about wrestling."
Pro wrestling comparison: Triple H. Size-wise, they're similar, and both balance on-field bluster with behind-the-scenes smarts.
On the football field: In his first season as a starter for the Tigers last year, Boulware racked up 82 tackles, seven pass breakups and 10 QB hurries while helping lead Clemson to the national championship game.
In the ring: Boulware actually wrestled in high school, but he was hardly a savant at the sport. "I was solid," he said, "but I didn't focus on learning. I just tried to overpower people." Still, Clemson's fans thought Boulware clearly has the personality for it. From the unconventional mustache he wore throughout last season's championship run to his brash, country-boy demeanor, he fits the mold of a pro wrestler. And while he has no interest in pursuing that career path, he's glad Clemson fans think he'd fit the bill. "Clemson fans, it would surprise me if they didn't say my name," Boulware said. "I appreciate the support."
Pro wrestling comparison: "He's a little undersized," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's kind of like -- who's the 'Woo' guy? Ric Flair? Yeah, Ric Flair, Boul-ware -- it makes sense."
On the football field: Chubb was in the mix for the Heisman last season before a knee injury ended his year early, but the Georgia running back has still racked up nearly 2,300 rushing yards in two seasons.
In the ring: Let's start with Chubb's ridiculous athleticism. Have you seen his vertical leap? No need to come off the top rope when he can jump like that. Because he's virtually impossible to take down, it's easy to see how his skill set could transition to the ring. He's not the most outspoken player in the SEC, however, so he might need to work on developing a more outlandish character if he's going to become a WWE superstar.
Pro wrestling comparison: Chubb's cousin, Bradley Chubb, currently plays for NC State, and Bradley's father, Aaron, played football at Georgia alongside wrestling legend Bill Goldberg. So there's a family connection, but that's probably where the comparisons end for Chubb and Goldberg. A more apt comparison for Chubb might be "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, who also started out as a college football running back before challenging Hulk Hogan in the 1980s.
On the football field: Had 34 tackles and six pass breakups despite his work as a down lineman on Alabama's ferocious defensive line. He was ranked the No. 11 defensive tackle in the nation coming out of high school.
In the ring: At 6-3, 307 pounds, picking a fight with Tomlinson doesn't seem like a wise decision. Of course, it has happened in the Alabama locker room a few times. Tomlinson is an avid wrestling fan and was a two-time state champ in high school, and he's happy to take on all comers -- including All-American A'Shawn Robinson in a true heavyweight showdown. Not surprisingly, Tomlinson came out on top.
Pro wrestling comparison: Tomlinson could match up nicely against some of pro wrestling's great heavyweights, but given his stature and the disciplinarian system he has come up through playing for coach Nick Saban, Tomlinson might be an apt comparison for Sgt. Slaughter.
On the football field: McManus finished fourth on the Thundering Herd in receiving yards last season (334) but will step into a leading role in the passing game this season.
In the ring: At 6-1, 228 pounds, McManus isn't small by any means, but he doesn't exactly match the stature of some of wrestling's heavyweights. No matter. The guy is strong -- like, seriously strong. During offseason drills, the Marshall wideout benched a whopping 400 pounds and squatted more than 540. Few wide receivers are matching that kind of power.
Pro wrestling comparison: McManus certainly doesn't fit the traditional role of the hulking behemoth in the ring, which makes a comparison to the great Rey Mysterio apt. McManus has a few inches on Mysterio, but both pack surprising power into a smaller frame, mixing agility and strength to frustrate their opposition.
On the football field: Entering his third year as a starter on Virginia Tech's offensive line, the 6-6 Conte helped the Hokies rush for more than 2,000 yards last season.
In the ring: Conte is among the strongest players on Virginia Tech's roster, and perhaps in the entire ACC. A minor shoulder injury prevented him from maxing out during offseason drills this year, but he said he has recently squatted 575 pounds, power-cleaned 400 and benched 450. As for wrestling, his high school coach was a big fan, so Conte would at least consider a career in the sport if the situation presented itself. "I heard a lot about it through him," Conte said. "If given the shot, I might try to explore that avenue, but I haven't planned on it."
Pro wrestling comparison: Bam Bam Bigelow. Conte is more athletic, certainly, but he has a similar mix of size and strength, and given Bigelow's fame for wrestling Lawrence Taylor during Wrestlemania XI, it's obvious they both enjoy tormenting pass-rushers.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines coach
On the football field: He has been a successful coach at both the college and NFL levels, not to mention a long career as a star quarterback. Most recently, he has helped turn around Michigan's struggling program.
In the ring: Harbaugh is certainly capable of holding his own if it comes to it, but his real skill set is stirring the pot and managing his talent. Plus, he's an outspoken wrestling lover.
Pro wrestling comparison: We'd love to see Harbaugh hosting an episode of "Piper's Pit" -- his personality would certainly fit. But the better comparison is probably Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, wrestling's greatest manager, occasional participant and constant source of frustration for many of his rivals.