Hometown: Atlanta

Former life: Recruited by Yale’s football program.

Loves about the biz: “I get to explore personalities and meet new and exciting people. I get to be passionate every day.”

Hates about the biz: “There’s so much down time (between jobs) you think your last job is your last job.”

No stranger to a helmet and shoulder pads, Kip Pardue has gotten more out of his football experience than half the players in the Pac-10.

As the laid-back quarterback Sunshine in Disney’s “Remember the Titans,” Pardue was one of the few actors who didn’t have to learn how to throw a spiral during the pre-shoot football camp the cast went through. The Atlanta native was an outstanding high school player recruited by Yale for his pigskin talents.

But it didn’t take long for the Ivy League economics major to realize that he could make a living without watching Alan Greenspan’s every move. During summer 1996, he came to California where he got a production assistant’s job on the short-lived Molly Ringwald series “Townies,” ended up doing some modeling for Abercrombie and Fitch, Armani and Polo. Then he struck paydirt.

In a few short months, Pardue made his bigscreen debut in “But I’m a Cheerleader” and had a small part in “Whatever It Takes” before returning to the gridiron with “Titans.”

Pardue says he was quite impressed with how star Denzel Washington and producer Jerry Bruckheimer helped guide the project.

” ‘Titans’ was a great experience. It was a script that was heartfelt and it felt like we were making a smaller film,” Pardue recalls. “As opposed to just another high school movie, we had two seasoned actors (Washington and Will Patton) coaching us along the way. They offered advice, professionalism and ideas all during the filming.”

Pardue is quickly getting familiar sharing the screen with A-list talent. He just returned from Montreal for Renny Harlin’s “Driven,” a race car actioner starring Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds from Warner Bros. Also in the can is Sony’s “The Glass House,” a psychological drama where he plays the love interest of Leelee Sobieski, scheduled for release next year.

“I’m having a wonderful time and have just been lucky,” he says. “As long as I can keep paying my bills, I’ll be happy.”