IRVING, Texas – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Football Hall of Fame recognized former BYU football players James Empey and Uriah Leiataua as members of its 2022 NFF Hampshire Honor Society.
With 67 overall honorees, BYU ranks No. 1 among all FBS programs for the most players to earn recognition in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society since the inception of the program in 2007. The Honor Society is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college careers while being a starter or significant contributor. This year 1,564 players from 314 schools qualified for membership in the Society's 16th year.
BYU (67), Minnesota (60), Duke (54), Stanford (53), lead the way with Kansas State (52) and Rice (52) tied to round out the top-five programs recognized overall among FBS schools. The Cougars are also one of five FBS schools to have had at least one player honored in all 16 years of the NFF Hampshire Honor Society (2007-21) along with Minnesota, West Virginia, Penn State and SMU.
A team captain and leader on the offensive line for the Cougars, Empey started in all 41 games he has played over his BYU career. He was 2018 FWAA Freshman All-American and was named a 2021 preseason All-American by both Phil Steele and Athlon Sports.
In the classroom, Empey is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection who graduated with a 3.84 GPA as a finance major with a minor in nonprofit management. He is a two-time team captain, member of the BYU Football Leadership Council and served on the Student Athlete Advisory Council at BYU. Empey was also named semifinalist for the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy this year.
Leiataua, a graduate in experience design, played in 49 career games, including all 13 in 2021. He posted 69 total tackles and 10 tackles for loss in his career.
Off the field, Leiataua is a former Wuerffel Trophy and AFCA Good Works Candidate. Leiataua played it crucial role in BYU's True Blue Hero program, celebrating local community members that are enduring various hardships including terminal illness and other struggles.
From Compton, California, Leiataua also worked with the program's Autism Awareness Football Camp and was a leader on the team in organizing intermediate and high school visits that help students understand how they can be successful athletically and academically as well as members of the community.
“As the National Football Foundation celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2022, we are pleased to honor another impressive group of athletes as part of this year’s Hampshire Honor Society,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “Over the last 16 years, the Hampshire Honor Society has served as 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 in all aspects of their lives.”
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 at the 771 colleges and universities with football programs nationwide. The initiative has now honored 14,640 student-athletes since its inception.