By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the fourth straight year, the Tennessee Tech University football team saw at least one member of its squad honored with a spot on the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society for outstanding academic achievement.
The Tech trio is among an impressive group of 817 student-athletes from a record 278 football playing schools from all divisions who qualified for membership in the society's ninth year, which began in 2007. The society honors college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college career.
Following a 2014 season that saw him total a career-high 16 tackles, Prewitt took home a share of the Golden Eagle football team's Academic Award, producing a 4.0 GPA while earning his degree in EXPW/pre-physical therapy. He was also a nominee for Academic All-America honors as well as the university's prestigious Derryberry Award.
Also sharing the team's Academic Award was Matthews, a December graduate that posted a 3.50 GPA in English-professional journalism, earned a spot on the FCS ADA Scholar All-Star team, was named CoSIDA Academic All-District and was honored by the National Football Foundation as a University Scholar-Athlete.
The Most Valuable Receiver honor also went to Matthews, who finished his career ranked eighth all-time with 110 catches for ninth in yards with 1,647 while scoring 16 touchdowns. He led the Golden Eagles in both receptions (48) and receiving yards (670), while adding six touchdowns in 2014.
The Tech Pride Award was presented to Jones, a first-team all-OVC selection who started all 12 games and topped Tech with 113 total tackles to rank second in the OVC. He also topped Tech with four interceptions. Wrapping up his sixth season on the squad, Jones returned to action after missing two full seasons with injuries and earned three degrees along the way.
The Tony Stone Bumble Bee DB Award was also presented to Jones for the second consecutive year. Among his 2014 highlights was setting a school and OVC record with four interceptions in one game, and also scoring the game-winning two-point conversion in that contest against Eastern Kentucky.
"That group of seniors is a collection of outstanding young men," said TTU head coach Watson Brown. "Their leadership in the classroom, as well as on the football field, will be greatly missed. It's been an honor to coach each one of them."
"We continue to raise the bar each year for the number of student-athletes who qualify for membership in the Hampshire Honor Society," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "The Hampshire Honor Society plays an important role in highlighting that college football players clearly play a leadership role in the classroom as well as on the playing field. We congratulate each of these young men for their commitment to excellence."
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 who play football at the 772 colleges and universities with football programs nationwide. The initiative has honored 5,744 student-athletes since its inception, and the program has experienced growth every year in either members or school participation since its launch in 2007. The 278 schools represented in 2015 is a new high water mark, eclipsing the 267 schools in 2014. The total of 817 players in the 2015 class is the second-most in the program's history, only 21 behind the 838 honored last year.
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 nearly 6,000 student-athletes in the last nine 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."
Qualifications for membership in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society include:
- Being a starter or a significant contributor in one's last year of eligibility (or a senior who has declared for the NFL Draft) at an 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/NAIA-mandated progress towards degree requirements.
The Hampshire Honor Society represents a powerful 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. Launched with a donation from Hall of Fame coach Earl "Red" Blaik, the NFF 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. Since its inception, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program has awarded $10.7 million to 804 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 postgraduate scholarship. Additionally, the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and hosted at the New York Athletic Club, is given to one member of each year's class as the absolute best. The winner of the Campbell Trophy, claimed by Academic All-American and All-ACC linebacker David Helton (Duke) in 2014, 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 $1.3 million to local high school student-athletes, bringing the NFF's annual scholarship distribution total to more than $1.6 million.
A total of nine student-athletes from the Ohio Valley Conference are listed on the 2015 Hampshire Honor Roll. In addition to Jones, Matthews and Prewitt, other OVC players selected are Hunter Branch, Ben Campbell and Jacob Sexton from Austin Peay, Khiry Maddox and Brandon Stanley from Eastern Kentucky, and Max Holcombe from Jacksonville State.
About the Hampshire Foundation:
The Hampshire Foundation is the charitable arm of The Hampshire Companies, a privately-held, fully-integrated real estate firm that has more than 50 years of hands-on, cycle-tested experience in acquiring, developing, leasing, repositioning, managing, financing and disposing of real estate. Founded by Jon F. Hanson, who served as NFF Chairman from 1994-2006, Hampshire is headquartered in Morristown, N.J., has 102 employees, and currently owns and operates a diversified portfolio of 259 properties in 28 states totaling more than 25 million square feet. Learn more at www.hampshireco.com.
About The National Football Foundation:
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame, the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF Showcases, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF Faculty Salute Initiative presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. The NFF also presents the William V. Campbell Trophy endowed by HealthSouth and hosted at the New York Athletic Club as well as bestowing several other major awards at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City. NFF corporate partners include the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, Liberty Mutual Insurance, the Sports Business Journal, and Under Armour. For more information, please visit www.footballfoundation.org.