Four Tigers earn National Football Foundation honor


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Chad Smith is among four former Tigers to earn the honor.
Chad Smith is among four former Tigers to earn the honor.

IRVING, Texas (April 15, 2020) - The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced the members of the 2020 NFF Hampshire Honor Society Wednesday, 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 careers. An impressive 1,432 players from 364 schools qualified for membership in the Society's 14th year. Four former Clemson student-athletes — wide receiver Diondre Overton, long snapper Patrick Phibbs, offensive lineman Sean Pollard and linebacker Chad Smith — were named to the list.

"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. "For more than a decade, 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 775 colleges and universities with football programs nationwide. The initiative has now honored 12,127 student-athletes since its inception.

FCS program Dayton led all schools in 2020 with 21 honorees. Kansas State led all FBS schools with nine members while Wayne State (MI) led Division II with 10 honorees. Saint John's (MN) was the Division III leader with 19 members and Morningside (IA) had the most honorees in the NAIA with nine.

Seventeen schools had at least 10 honorees in 2020, including Brown, Butler, Chicago (IL), Dayton, Harvard, Johns Hopkins (MD), Macalester (MN), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Central (IL), Saint John's (MN), Springfield (MA), St. Thomas (MN), Trine (IN), Washington Univ. in St. Louis (MO), Wayne State (MI), Wisconsin-Whitewater and Yale.

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 chairman emeritus. Each player awarded with membership in this year's Honor Society will receive a certificate commemorating his or her achievement.

"It was my great privilege to endow the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which has greatly increased the number of college student-athletes the NFF has been able to recognize during the past 14 years," said Hanson. "Nationwide there are thousands of football players excelling in the classroom, and they are going on to become great leaders. The NFF Hampshire Honor Society continues to grow and allows us to shine a light on their hard work."

"We have honored more than 12,000 student-athletes in the last 14 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."

Nominated by their respective schools, members of the NFF Hampshire Honor Society must have:

Completed their final year of playing eligibility in 2019;

Graduated players, who have remaining eligibility but will not return to collegiate play (e.g. declared for NFL Draft or retired from football), may also be nominated.

Achieved a 3.2 cumulative grade point average throughout entire course of undergraduate study;

Met all NCAA- or NAIA-mandated progress toward degree requirements; and

Been starters or significant contributors throughout the 2019 season.

Twenty-nine colleges and universities have had at least one player in all 14 years of the NFF Hampshire Honor Society (2007-20), including Brigham Young, Brown, Bucknell, Colorado, Columbia, Dayton, Huntingdon (AL), Iowa, Johns Hopkins (MD), Kentucky, Lafayette, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Montana, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Penn State, Redlands (CA), Saint John's (MN), SMU, South Dakota State, Wartburg (IA), Washington Univ. in St. Louis (MO), Wayne State (MI), West Virginia, Wingate (NC), Yale and Youngstown State.

The Hampshire Honor Society represents an important component in the organization's rich history as an innovator in promoting the scholar-athlete ideal, which began in 1959 with the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. Click here to learn more.

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