Submitted by North Central College
student-athletes Peter Bulandr (Sr., Long Grove, Ill./Stevenson), Stewart Charles (Sr., Batavia, Ill./Batavia), Brad Crackel (Sr., Oswego, Ill./Oswego East), Mike Giaquinto (Sr., Port Murray, N.J./Warren Hills), Nick Hicks (Sr., Pembroke Pines, Fla./American Heritage), Josh McLeod (Sr., Lisle, Ill./Lisle) and Kane Thompson (Sr., Aledo, Ill./Aledo) have been selected as members of the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society Class of 2012.
The Hampshire Honor Society, part of the NFF's effort to recognize academic and athletic success, is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who have maintained a cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 or better during their collegiate football careers. A total of 721 players qualified for membership in the society's sixth year, the highest total since the society was founded in 2007.
Of this year's honorees, 290 came from NCAA Division III institutions. North Central's seven selections are the most the Cardinals have had in a single season and rank as the highest delegation from a College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) institution. Also among this year's selections are six players from Augustana College, four from North Park University and one from Elmhurst College. North Central ranked 16th nationwide and ninth in Division III in terms of the number of players selected.
Bulandr, a four-year letter winner and three-year starter at defensive tackle, was a team captain for the Cardinals this past season, recording 30 total tackles and a team-high 7.5 quarterback sacks. He received First Team All-CCIW, All-North Region and All-America honors as a senior, and also became the fifth North Central player to be voted the CCIW Defensive Player of the Year. He was one of 10 nationwide finalists for the Galigardi Trophy, the premier individual award in NCAA Division III football.
Charles was a two-year starter at cornerback for the Cardinals, recording five interceptions and 13 pass breakups in his career. He was a Second Team All-CCIW selection as a senior and earned Academic All-CCIW honors twice.
Crackel played in 20 games at quarterback over the past two seasons, making nine starts. He threw for 1,708 yards and 20 touchdowns, ranking third in school history in career passing percentage (56.0), while also running for 499 yards and nine touchdowns in his career. He completed an 88-yard touchdown pass against Elmhurst in 2010, the longest in school history.
Giaquinto is a three-year letter winner, having played outside linebacker and defensive back in addition to extensive action on special teams. A three-time Academic All-CCIW selection, Giaquinto recently set a North Central outdoor track and field record in the javelin throw in his first season of competition in the sport.
Hicks is a four-year letter winner and a two-time Academic All-CCIW selection. After starting at safety in 2008, Hicks switched to the offensive side of the ball, playing both the running back and wide receiver positions.
McLeod, a three-year starter at free safety, has been a First Team All-CCIW and Academic All-CCIW honoree the past three seasons in addition to earning Second Team All-North Region honors the past two years. He tied a North Central single-season record with eight interceptions in 2010 and ranks second all-time in career interceptions with 13.
Thompson is a four-year letter winner and two-year starter at linebacker. He recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown at Carthage and returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown against Augustana in consecutive weeks this season. Thompson is a two-time Academic All-CCIW selection.
The Cardinals (10-2, 7-0 CCIW) won their sixth consecutive CCIW title and qualified for the NCAA Division III Championship for the sixth time in 2011. North Central led Division III in yards per rushing attempt (6.8) while ranking fifth in scoring offense (43.7 ppg) and sixth in scoring defense (12.6 ppg). The Cardinals set single-season school records for rushing yards (3,383), rushing touchdowns (40), and total points scored (524).