We interrupt the depressing news about the Southwest Conference to bring you this welcome anomaly—a preseason All-America safety who makes straight A's and majors in philosophy. Senior Kip Corrington is, in fact, the top-ranked student in Texas A & M's 4,500-tudent College of Liberal Arts. He has made only one B (in an American literature course as a sophomore) in four years of study (he redshirted in '83), while earning all-conference honors in the Aggie secondary.
Rarely since Rice's Frank Ryan, the mathematician who quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns to a couple of titles in the 1960s, has a football star followed such a demanding academic path. "Kip exemplifies the Aristotelian ideal of a liberal education," says Dr. Daniel Fallon, dean of the Liberal Arts college.
Corrington, whose parents work at A & M, says his grades improved when he got to college because he suddenly had more time on his hands. "I played five sports in high school and I didn't concentrate on my studies that much. Then it kind of hit me one day, after I got here, that I could do as well in class as I did in football."
Corrington's academic achievements include:
•First-team Academic All-America two years in a row.
•Twice named outstanding student in the College of Liberal Arts.
•Nominated for a Marshall Scholar scholarship for postgraduate study.
•Eight-time winner of A & M's Academic Achievement Award.
Corrington hasn't done badly in helmet and pads, either; he had 93 tackles and three pass interceptions last season. "I'd say hitting and tackling are my strongest areas," says the soft-spoken College Station native. His football-savvy dean adds: "He's able to make the big play."
Still, the Aggies will have to muster a liberal supply of other football arts if they are to win their third straight conference title. The early schedule includes LSU and Washington before the SWC challengers line up, and the Aggies have lost 12 starters from last year's Cotton Bowl team, including the SWC's Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Kevin Murray. After rumors that he had received illegal financial aid, Murray decided to pass up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. Bad move: No one bothered to select him.
A & M won't miss a beat, though, because coach Jackie Sherrill is building a Nebraska-like power. He has All-America candidates at offensive tackle (Louis Cheek) and middle guard (Sammy O'Brient), and the best recruiting class in A & M history. Craig Stump, Murray's mopper-up last season, will guide the offense, and Keith Woodside, the versatile running back who set a conference record last year with 12 catches against Arkansas, will wind up as A & M's alltime best receiver. For big plays, keep your eye on flanker Rod Harris, who averaged more than 15 yards a catch last year.
If those riches aren't embarrassment enough, junior placekicker Scott Slater set an SWC record with 21 field goals in '86, including 16 of 16 from inside the 40-yard line.
But it is Corrington who sets the tone at A & M. He is the rebuttal to the Texas safety who last year denounced the Aggies as "arrogant...unclassy...stupid people." Corrington is none of those things, and he can rip your head off besides. As Dean Fallon says, "To understand well the concept of discipline: That's a central construct for an athlete, an artist or a scholar."
Sorry, Aggie-haters. With philosopher-warrior Corrington in the secondary and football-wise Dean Fallon in the ivory tower, our pick is A & M over Arkansas by a construct.
Harris will be long gone if Stump, a first-time starter, is able to wing it downfield.
Since 1972, 62 Aggies have been drafted by the NFL. The total since 1924: 113
Only national title in 93 years came in 1939, the Aggies' last unbeaten and untied season