Big Rapids, Mich. - For the fourth consecutive year, the Ferris State University football squad ranks as one of the top Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) members and in-state NCAA Division I and II schools with nine student-athletes recently chosen to the 2018 National Football Foundation (NFF) Hampshire Honor Society for their work both on the field and in the classroom.
The NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout in their college career. An all-time high 1,253 players from a record 303 schools qualified for membership in the society's 12th year.
Overall, a total of only 22 NCAA Division II players from the state of Michigan were honored with nine from Ferris State, seven from Michigan Tech, four from Wayne State and two from Grand Valley State. FSU also had more recipients than nearly every NCAA Division I school in the state. The nine total picks were the second-most in all of Division II football.
All nine Ferris State honorees concluded their collegiate football eligibility as significant contributors last fall, helping lead the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II National Quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.
"We are pleased to see another record number of athletes honored by the Hampshire Honor Society this year," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "Over the past decade, it has become 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 777 colleges and universities with football programs nationwide.
The 1,253 players honored in 2018 sets a new high water mark, eclipsing the previous record of 1,103 honorees in 2017. The 303 schools with members breaks the previous mark of 302 set in 2017.
The initiative has now honored 8,996 student-athletes since its inception, and the program has experienced growth every year in either members or school participation since its launch in 2007.
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.
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 the chairman emeritus. Each player awarded with membership in this year's Honor Society will receive a certificate commemorating their achievement.
Along with reaching the NCAA Division II National Quarterfinals in 2017 for the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs also made their fourth-straight trip to the D2 Playoffs and posted an 11-2 record, marking the first time in school history in which FSU has won 11 games or more in four-straight seasons. Last summer, Hero Sports picked FSU as Michigan's Best College Football program regardless of division.
Over the last four seasons at Ferris State, the Bulldogs have compiled a 45-7 overall record and made four consecutive NCAA Playoff appearances, claimed two conference championships, posted two unbeaten regular-seasons, twice made the national quarterfinals, captured a regional title and reached the national semifinals. Ferris State has also accumulated two Harlon Hill National Player of the Year trophies, twice had a student-athlete tabbed as the nation's National Scholar-Athlete of the Year and won six postseason games.
In the six seasons under Annese, the Bulldogs have become a national power on the Division II level. FSU has posted a 60-14 overall mark in the last six years and the Bulldogs have also posted the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in the state of Michigan along with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) since his arrival. Twice he's been tabbed as the Super Region Coach of the Year at Ferris State.
Overall, Annese has won 83% of his games as a head coach on the collegiate and prep levels and owns 285 wins to date, which is the most of any current GLIAC member head coach at all levels.