May 3, 2013
Rice defensive tackle Jamael Thomas is one of 703 college football players representing 259 institutions who have been honored as members of the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society.
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) Hampshire Honor Society 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. The total of 703 players from 259 schools who were honored this year is the highest number in the history of the program, which began in 2007.
Thomas, who originally came to Rice as a walk-on, graduated with a 3.42 GPA while majoring in Kinesiology. He made a pair of starts as a senior as the Owls captured the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl with a 33-14 win over Air Force and finished his career with 20 tackles and a pair of sacks.
Thomas was was Rice's nominee for the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy, which honors the top walk-on player in college football.
He was named the 2013 Rice Scholar Athlete for Football, was twice named a Rice Honor Athlete and was a four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll. Thomas is the 17th Owl to be a member of the Hampshire Honor Society since it began in 2007.
"The growing number of schools involved in the Hampshire Honor Society each year shows that football student-athletes not only play at the highest level but that they are some of the best students on campus as well," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "Congratulations to each of these young men for their commitment to education and their leadership on and off the football field."
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 4,081 student-athletes since its inception.
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 4,000 student-athletes in the last seven years thanks to Jon Hanson's generosity," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, "We are humbled by 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 substitute in one's last year of eligibility at an accredited 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 and graduation.
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 $10.1 million to 771 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, is given to one member of each year's class as the absolute best. The winner of the Campbell Trophy, claimed by All-American center Barrett Jones (Alabama) in 2012, 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.