Famous Drake Alumni

Today, Billy Cundiff kicked a 29-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining to give the Cleveland Browns the win over the New Orleans Saints. As if the Browns beating the Saints isn’t newsworthy enough, the game attracted my attention for one other special reason: Billy Cundiff is a Drake grad and former Bulldog football player. Pretty cool, right? The correct answer is yes, very cool.

And Cundiff isn’t alone among awesome Drake grads. In fact there’s a huge collection of famous Bulldogs across Hollywood and the sports world. I mean, we’re not USC, but there’s an impressive number of superstars who trace their careers right back to Des Moines. Case in point:

Jeremy Piven

Okay, I think we can all agree that Entourage didn’t exactly showcase the best of human nature, but the good news is that Jeremy Piven is no Ari Gold. In fact, he seems like a very cool guy and a testament to the strength of Drake’s awesome theater program. While at Drake, Piven acted in productions like Julius Caesar, and now he’s sporting top hats on PBS as Mr. Selfridge, bro.

Zach Johnson

I generally try to stick more to mini-golf myself, but I make an exception to watch Drake alum Zach Johnson on the PGA tour. The Iowa City native has 11 tour victories, and even won the Masters. And even after all the success, he still remains a proud Bulldog.


Just kidding. He didn’t go here. Not yet, anyway….

Michael Emerson

Ben Linus, guys. BEN LINUS. Where do you think he picked up the necessary smarts to manipulate an entire island of people? That’s right. Drake University. I may be confusing fiction and reality here a bit, but the fact is that I am tangentially connected to LOST and that’s all that matters.

Kourtney Hansen

If you’re not watching Nashville, you’re not doing TV right. Tune in for the drama, the music, the drama, and appearances by Drake’s own Kourtney Hansen. She started working in radio while studying theater at Drake and now has an incredible career as a dancer, actress, CMT correspondent, and Predators broadcaster. I actually got to interview her for Drake Magazine a while back and let me tell you, she couldn’t be nicer.

Steve Allen

Okay, for all you youngsters out there, this one may not seem as cool, but for me, it was a big deal to discover that Steve Allen was a Bulldog. Apparently, it was even a radio class at Drake in the 40s that inspired him to get into the media biz, and ultimately use his comedy chops as to become the first host of The Tonight Show.

John August

In yet another Drake Hollywood success story, John August studied journalism at Drake before hitting the big screen as a writer and director. Today, he often works with the frightening/frighteningly brilliant Mr. Tim Burton. But my personal John August favorite will always be his adaptation of the eternally cool Big Fish.

Obviously, a lot of really awesome stars got their start at Drake, but celebrity of not, there seems to be something about the Drake education that produces really cool, interesting, and successful people. I’m probably not qualified to venture why that is, but I will say that Drake allows you explore what you love and learn about new things you never knew you’d love. And if that process happens to lead to becoming an ESPN or Hollywood staple, then so be it. I mean, I will be graduating soon, if superstardom should come calling.

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