Former Minnesota star Marion Barber Jr. set to graduate at age 57

(AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)

Marion Barber Jr. accomplished a lot as a football player.

When his playing career at the University of Minnesota ended, he was the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He then went on to play seven seasons in the NFL for the New York Jets. But there was one thing that always hung over Barber’s head: he never completed his degree at Minnesota — until now.

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Per the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Barber, now 57 years old, will receive his diploma from Minnesota on Thursday.

Barber promised his mother as a teenager that he would graduate from the University of Minnesota. On Thursday, he will receive his diploma at age 57.

Barber, a former All-Big Ten running back, returned to school two years ago — 36 years after leaving for the NFL — and will participate in graduation ceremonies for the College of Education and Human Development. His degree is in youth studies.

“It’s been a thorn in my side for a lot of years,” he said. “In some regards, I felt like a hypocrite for promoting education with young people and not having the credentials to back what I say.”

All three of Barber’s sons played at Minnesota, including Marion Barber III, who spent seven seasons as an NFL running back after being an All-Big Ten selection for the Gophers.

Barber Jr. ultimately decided to return to school after his son Dom, who played four seasons for the Houston Texans, completed his degree in 2015. Impressively, Barber Jr. had perfect attendance, including a few classes in the same building as his youngest son, Thomas, a sophomore linebacker for the Gophers.

From the Star Tribune:

Barber needed two years of credits to graduate. He earned all A’s except for two B’s and had perfect attendance. He came to campus two to three times per week for class.

“He’s so proud of the perfect attendance,” said Dom, who works on Gophers coach P.J. Fleck’s staff overseeing alumni relations.

Barber’s youngest son, Thomas, is a sophomore linebacker. Father and son took separate classes in the same building this semester, but they never bumped into each other. The elder Barber, however, did share a few classes with football players.

“His teammates usually give him an update [saying], ‘Man, your dad was singing in class, or your dad had another story to tell today,’ ” Barber said.

How cool is that?

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!