April 29, 2014
IRVING, Texas – The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today that four Rice Owls are among a record group of 838 players who have been named members of the 2014 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.
Tanner Leland, Klein Kubiak, Michael Kutzler and Paul Porras combined to give the Owls a C-USA leading four honorees. The four selectees by the Owls was the second-most in school history behind only the six that were honored in 2012.
Leland, from Katy (Cinco Ranch HS), was a four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and played in 11 games his senior season, recording 30 tackles. Leland, who graduated with a degree in Mathematical Economic Analysis, was named to his second consecutive CoSIDA Academic All District VII team and was a candidate for the NFF Scholar Athlete Award.
Kubiak, a native of Houston (Strake Jesuit HS), was a three-time C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll selectee and the winner of the Fall C-USA Spirit of Service Award. The Rice long snapper graduated with a degree in Sports Management and was the Owls nominee for the AFCA Good Works Team.
Kutzler, from Ft. Worth (Trinity Valley HS), worked his way up from a walk-on to earning a starting role as a senior and led the Owls in tackles in 2013 (96) and earned second team All C-USA honors. He was a four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Kutzler graduated with a Political Science degree.
Porras, a native of Scottsdale, Arizona (Saguaro HS), was named to both the Academic All-C-USA and CoSIDA Academic All District VII teams his senior campaign. A graduate in Sports Management, Porras was second on the team in tackles (76) his senior season and left Rice in the top 10 on the all-time career tackles list.
The NFF Hampshire Honor Society capitalizes on the NFF’s current National Scholar-Athlete program 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 more than 700 college and universities with football programs nationwide. The initiative has honored 4,927 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 2014 class of 838 players represents a new high water mark for members, eclipsing the old record mark by 117 student-athletes.
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 a chairman emeritus. Each player awarded with membership in this year’s Honor Society will receive a certificate commemorating their achievement.
“We have honored more than 4,900 student-athletes in the last eight 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-mandated progress towards degree requirements.
The Hampshire Honor Society represents a powerful component in the organization's rich history as an innovator in promoting the scholar-athlete ideal. Launched in 1959 with a donation from Hall of Fame coach Earl “Red” Blaik, the NFF’s National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, became the first initiative in history to grant postgraduate scholarships based on a player’s combined academic success, football performance and community leadership. And, since its inception, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program has awarded $10.4 million to 787 top scholars and community leaders.
Currently, the NFF distributes more than $300,000 a year at the national level through the program to 16 individuals. Each winner of a National Scholar-Athlete Award receives an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. Additionally, the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth and hosted at 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 All-American guard John Urschel (Penn State) in 2013, 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 $1.3 million to local high school student-athletes, bringing the NFF’s annual scholarship distribution total to more than $1.6 million.
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