April 9, 2008
Three seniors on Baylor's 2007 football team--Desmond Jenkins, Michael Machen and Ralph Rodriguez, were named to the 2008 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which is selected by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) and recognizes college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a 3.2 GPA or better. All-told, 439 players from 226 schools qualified for membership in the society's second year, an increase of more than 25 percent from the inaugural class in 2007.
Jenkins owns a 3.41 cumulative grade-point average in business administration and is slated to graduate next month. Machen earned his sport management graduate degree in one calendar year with a 3.62 GPA and Rodriguez graduated from Baylor with an undergraduate degree in political science and a 3.21 grade-point average.
Nebraska produced a Big 12-leading four 2008 Honor Society members, while Baylor and Colorado each had three selections. This is the second year that the NFF has recognized football players for academic achievement. Baylor's Shawn Bell and two-time Ray Guy Award winner Daniel Sepulveda were named to the inaugural list a year ago.
"It's a privilege to a part of this initiative," said Florida State President and NFF Hampshire Honor Society National Advisory Committee Chairman Dr. T.K. Wetherell. "I am pleased to see the strong membership growth that NFF Hampshire Honor Society produced in its second year. I would encourage coaches at all levels to tap the competitive spirit of their teams and promote membership and academic performance as a point pride among their players."
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 its leadership role in encouraging academic performance by the student-athletes who play football at the more than 700 college and universities with football programs.
"Thanks to the generosity of The Hampshire Foundation, the National Football Foundation is extending its reach as a pioneer in the promotion of the scholar-athlete ideal with the NFF Hampshire Honor Society," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "We strongly believe that football is unique in its ability to foster academic achievement in our young people, and this year's class contains countless examples of our nation's brightest young leaders."
Qualifications for membership in the NFF National 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 toward degree requirements.
"Since Red Blaik provided the first funds for the first National Scholar-Athlete Awards in 1959, the NFF has stood in the vanguard of promoting the scholar-athlete ideal," said Jon F. Hanson, the chairman and founder of The Hampshire Companies who also served as NFF Chairman from 1994-2006 and continues in an emeritus capacity. "It has been a great privilege to build on his legacy and endow The NFF Hampshire Honor Society. 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 allows us to shine a light on their hard work."
The National Honor Society becomes the latest component of the organization's efforts to promote combined athletic and academic success. Launched in 1959, the NFF's National Scholar-Athlete Awards program became the first initiative in history to credit a player for his combined academic success, football performance and community leadership.
"There is no question that the lessons learned on the field translate directly into success later in life," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, "And the members of the NFF Hampshire Honor Society serve as the perfect example of football's ability to teach leadership skills. We are proud to showcase the accomplishments of this group as part of the NFF's mission in promoting the scholar-athlete ideal."
"The NFF Hampshire Honor Society provides us an excellent opportunity to recognize outstanding young men who have been committed on the football field and in their educational pursuits throughout their college careers," said Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel, who serves as a member of The NFF Hampshire Honor Society Advisory Committee. "The National Football Foundation is again taking the lead in honoring scholarship and leadership among student-athletes."
Since its inception, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program has awarded $8.6 million to 693 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 Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth, is given to one member of each year's class as the absolute best. The winner of the Draddy, claimed by Texas longhorn center Dallas Griffin in 2007, receives a total scholarship of $25,000 and a stunning 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy. Through, its chapter network, the NFF awards an additional $800,000 to local high school student-athletes, bringing the NFF's annual scholarship total to more than $1.1 million.