By Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today three Rice Owls are among a group of 868 players who have been named members of the 2016 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college career.
Punter James Farrimond, defensive back Ryan Pollard and offensive tackle Caleb Williams were among the record number of players who were honored for their combination of excellence on the field and in the classroom.
Farrimond was a three-year starter for the Owls who ranks second in school history with a 42.4 average on 198 career punts. He was two-time Rice Scholar Athlete and a four-time member of the Conference USA Honor Roll. The Economics major graduated with a 3.49 GPA.
Pollard was a three-year fixture in the defensive backfield at both corner and safety and led the team in interceptions (two) and eight breakups as a junior. Originally a transfer from Air Force, Pollard posted a 3.41 GPA while majoring in Kinesiology.
Williams was a four-year starter at tackle for the Owls, including starts in three consecutive bowl games. He was named to the C-USA All Freshman team in 2012 and graduated with a 3.41 GPA while majoring in History.
"The number of colleges and universities who embrace the Hampshire Honor Society continues to increase each year," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "Over the past decade, it has become a powerful vehicle for schools to recognize their college football players who have distinguished themselves both academically and athletically, and we congratulate the schools and each of these young men for their commitment to excellence."
The NFF Hampshire Honor Society capitalizes on the NFF's National Scholar-Athlete program by greatly expanding the number of scholar-athletes the NFF can recognize each year. The program further strengthens the organization's leadership role in encouraging academic performance by the student-athletes who play football at the 775 colleges and universities with football programs nationwide. The 868 players honored in 2016 is a new high water mark, eclipsing the previous record of 838 honorees in 2014.
The initiative has honored 6,620 student-athletes since its inception, and the program has experienced growth every year in either members or school participation since its launch in 2007. The top five for total honorees during the 10-year span of the program include Brown (104), Dayton (89), Yale (81), Nebraska Wesleyan (79) and Johns Hopkins [Md.] (77). Union College (N.Y.) holds the mark for the most honorees in a single year, boasting 18 members in 2012.
Jon F. Hanson, the chairman and founder of The Hampshire Companies, provided the endowment to launch the NFF Hampshire Honor Society in 2007. He made the contribution as part of his legacy to the organization after serving as NFF Chairman from 1994-2006. He currently serves the organization as the chairman emeritus. Each player awarded with membership in this year's Honor Society will receive a certificate commemorating their achievement.
"It was my great privilege to endow the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which has greatly increased the number of college student-athletes the NFF has been able to recognize during the past 10 years," said Hanson. "Nationwide there are thousands of football players excelling in the classroom, and they're going on to be great leaders. The NFF Hampshire Honor Society continues to grow and allows us to shine a light on their hard work."
"We have honored more than 6,500 student-athletes in the last 10 years thanks to Jon Hanson's generosity," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "We are grateful for his passionate belief in the scholar-athlete ideal, and the Hampshire Honor Society allows us to showcase the names of tomorrow's leaders while inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps." Qualifications for membership in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society include:
- Being a starter or a significant contributor in one's last year of eligibility (or a senior who has declared for the NFL Draft) at an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III or an NAIA college or university;
- Achieving a 3.2 cumulative grade point average throughout entire course of undergraduate study; and
- Meeting all NCAA/NAIA-mandated progress towards degree requirements.
Currently, the NFF distributes approximately $300,000 a year at the national level through the program to 12-15 individuals. Each recipient of an NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Additionally, the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and displayed at its official home inside the New York Athletic Club, is given to one member of each year's class as the absolute best. The winner of the Campbell Trophy, claimed by Academic All-American and All-Big 12 center Ty Darlington (Oklahoma) in 2015, receives a total scholarship of $25,000 and a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy. Through its chapter network, the NFF also awards an additional $1 million to local high school student-athletes, bringing the NFF's annual scholarship distribution total to more than $1.3 million.