BYU Tops NFF Honor List for Second Straight Year

Andrew Rich was one of six Cougars recognized by the NFF Hampshire Honor Society. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah -- Six players on the 2010 BYU football team were recognized Wednesday by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) as members of the 2011 NFF Hampshire Honor Society.

For the second-straight year, BYU led the way with the most honorees among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools. BYU’s six selections tied Ohio State and Indiana for the most players honored among FBS schools this year. Last year the Cougars lead the FBS with eight honorees.

Representing BYU this year in the Society are offensive lineman Nick Alletto, linebacker Shane Hunter, linebacker Zeke Mendenhall, kicker Mitch Payne, wide receiver BJ Peterson and safety Andrew Rich, all of whom finished their senior season with the Cougars in 2010.

The 2011 NFF Hampshire Honor Society is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play. 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.

A total of 671 players from 241 schools qualified for membership in the society's fifth year, showing a steady increase in membership each year since the inaugural class in 2007.

"In just the fifth year of this initiative, it gives the NFF great pride to honor so many qualified and accomplished collegiate players as members of this year's Hampshire Honor Society," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "The number of players we are able to recognize has nearly doubled since the first year of the program, showing that you can play football at the highest level and still be a standout student."

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 and further strengthening 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. Jon F. Hanson, the chairman and founder of The Hampshire Companies, provided an 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. Each of the 671 players awarded with membership in this year's Honor Society will receive a certificate commemorating the achievement.

"We encourage every football-playing school in the country to get involved in this most important initiative," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, "Thanks to the generosity of Jon F. Hanson, we have honored nearly 3,000 of our nation's best and brightest college players over the past five years. This program truly shows the power of football in building tomorrow's leaders."

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 program 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 $9.5 million to 740 top scholars and community leaders.

Currently, the NFF distributes more than $300,000 a year at the national level through the program to 15 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, claimed by Texas defensive end Sam Acho in 2010, 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. A record-high nine NFF National Scholar-Athletes were selected in last week's NFL Draft.