After tossing two interceptions, fumbling twice and suffering three sacks in a game against UCLA last year, University of Texas quarterback Marty Cherry was ready to blow his top in frustration. Instead he just took off his helmet—and it was his best move all day.

As ABC aired the final moments of the game (which ended in a 66-3 UCLA romp), a camera zoomed in on a sidelined Cherry, the very model of dejection. Or maybe perfection, at least to photographer's scout Ashley Brokaw, watching on TV in Houston. Brokaw later contacted Cherry, and before the season's end the 6'2" third-stringer had quit the team to kick off a new career as a model.

Despite ribbing from former Longhorns teammates ("Some of the guys started calling me 'Pretty Boy,' " admits Cherry), the 22-year-old native of Texarkana, Ark., has since appeared in ads in GQ, Esquire, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Rolling Stone. Taking a time-out from studies this spring and summer, Cherry posed for a Ralph Lauren billboard in Times Square, walked fashion runways for Versace and Armani and boosted his income into a zone as handsome as his chiseled cheekbones: six figures.

Now back in school and living in a sparsely furnished Austin bachelor apartment, Cherry rises at 6:30 a.m. for a two-mile run each day, reads his Bible over breakfast and gets to bed by 10:30 at night. "Modeling is a lot harder work than people realize," says the 180-lb. junior. "You have to stay in shape." And flexible, apparently; Cherry's next play may be for an acting role. "I've checked out some of the TV soap operas to get an idea of what acting is all about," he says. "I'm going to keep open-minded about things."