Nixon named to 2010 NFF Hampshire Honor Society
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today the members of the 2010 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a 3.2 GPA or better, and Arizona State University linebacker Mike Nixon is one of the honorees. A total of 620 players from 246 schools qualified for membership in the society's fourth year, an 80 percent increase from the inaugural class in 2007.
"The NFF's mission is to build leaders through football, and this year's Hampshire Honor Society members are living proof of that charge," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "Each of these young men has showcased a strong desire to succeed on and off the football field, and we are certainly proud to honor them for their accomplishments as the next generation of our nation's leaders."
Nixon (Phoenix, Ariz.) is one of the most decorated academic student-athletes in ASU history. Nixon was a highly productive linebacker who began his ASU career in 2006 after playing minor league baseball for four years. He played in all 50 games over the last four years, starting 31. Nixon totaled 253 tackles (169 solo), 25.0 tackles for loss (minus 93 yards), 5.5 sacks (minus 33 yards), 16 pass break-ups, eight interceptions, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career. He emerged as one of ASU's top defensive players over the last two seasons, leading the team in tackles in both 2008 and 2009. His five interceptions as a junior in 2008 tied for the most in the Pac-10 that season. Accomplished in the classroom, he was a three-time First Team Academic All-Pac-10 and First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honoree. He was a Wuerffel Trophy Finalist and was a Lott Trophy Quarterfinalist. Most recently, he was one of six finalists for the 2010 Walter Byers Scholarship, presented by the NCAA.
In 2009, Nixon started all 12 games at weak side linebacker and led the Sun Devils in tackles for the second straight year, totaling 73 tackles (52 solo) on the season, and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. He also had six tackles for loss (minus 21 yards), 0.5 sacks (minus six yards), four pass break-ups and three forced fumbles on the season. Nixon was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection, a First Team Academic All-Pac-10 and First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII selection for the third straight year. He served as a team captain, along with defensive end Dexter Davis and offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao. Nixon had four or more tackles in every game in 2009 with six or more in nine of the team's 12 games. He collected three interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, and blocked a punt in ASU's season-opening victory over Idaho State on Sept. 5. For that performance he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week and Lott Trophy IMPACT Player of the Week. Nixon collected seven tackles (six solo) and forced a fumble that led to an ASU touchdown at No. 21 Georgia on Sept. 26.
Nixon played in all 12 games in 2008, making 11 starts (10 at weak side linebacker and one at middle linebacker). He led the team and tied for the Pac-10 lead with five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. He also led the Sun Devils with 90 tackles (60 solo), which ranked sixth in the Pac-10, and had 8.0 tackles for loss (minus 36 yards), one sack, five pass break-ups and one forced fumble on the season. Following the campaign he was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection, and earned First-Team all-conference honors from PhilSteele.com. He was a Pac-10 All-Academic First-Team selection and an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honoree. Nixon had seven tackles (four solo) and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of victory over UCLA on Nov. 28. His interception for a score was one of an NCAA record-tying four defensive touchdowns the Sun Devils scored in that game. He shared the team's Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Year award with senior safety Troy Nolan and also was a co-winner of the Clyde B. Smith Award for academic achievement, along with senior linebacker Anthony Reyes, at the team's year-end banquet.
Nixon played in all 13 games in 2007, making four starts at middle linebacker and finished fourth on the team with 58 tackles (37 solo). He totaled three tackles for loss (minus 12 yards), including one sack (minus nine yards), and four pass break-ups on the season with two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. In 2006 Nixon played in all 13 games, starting four at strong side linebacker and totaled 32 tackles (20 solo), 8.0 tackles for loss (-24 yards), 3.0 sacks (-10 yards), three pass deflections and one forced fumble. A 2002 graduate of Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Nixon was also an outstanding baseball player (catcher) who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school and played in their farm system until the end of 2005. His parents are Jim (CFO of Marco Crane) and Debbie (health care consultant) Nixon of Phoenix, Ariz.
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 the organization's leadership role in encouraging academic performance by the student- athletes who play football at the more than 700 college and universities with football programs nationwide. Jon F. Hanson, the chairman and founder of The Hampshire Companies, provided an 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.
"The Hampshire Honor Society's success is a direct reflection of Jon Hanson's generosity and continued belief in the scholar-athlete ideal," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell, "We thank him and those who serve on the society's advisory committee for helping us empower this most important initiative, and we encourage every football-playing school in the country to get involved in the future."
Qualifications for membership in the NFF Hampshire 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 towards degree requirements.
The Hampshire Honor Society becomes the latest component of the organization's efforts to promote combined athletic and academic success. Launched in 1959 with a donation from Hall of Fame coach Earl "Red" Blaik, the NFF's National Scholar-Athlete Awards program 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 $9.2 million to 724 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 Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, is given to one member of each year's class as the absolute best. The winner of the Campbell, claimed by Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2009, receives a total scholarship of $25,000 and a 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.
Click this link for a complete list of honorees: