DALLAS, Texas – A record 10 members of the MIT football team were named to the 2014 National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society, the organization announced today. Seniors James Balchunas (Plainview, N.Y.), Rhys Borchert (Pocatello, Idaho), Heath Gould (Las Vegas, Nev.), Brent Johnson (La Canada, Calif.), Jake Laux (Dousman, Wis.), Matt Merlino (Vancouver, Wash.), Max Powers (Rochester, N.Y.), Joel Santisteban (Lawrence, N.Y.), Billy Thalheimer (Natick, Mass.), and John Wenzel (Mandeville, La.) were all named to the prestigious academic honor.
Balchunas (Materials Science and Engineering major) started along the offensive line for MIT for three years and helped anchored a unit that helped the Engineers offense rank second in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) in total offense. Powers (Materials Science and Engineering) and Santisteban (Aerospace Engineering) were both starters along the defensive line this past season, with Santisteban leading the group with 31 tackles while also being named a second team Academic All-American and Powers also earning Academic All-District honors while making 18 tackles.
Borchert (Physics), Merlino (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and Wenzel (Aerospace Engineering) were all starters in the defensive secondary for MIT in 2013. A second team All-NEFC and Academic All-District selection, Borchert made 31 tackles and led the team with nine passes broken up. Wenzel, who started his MIT career as a quarterback, shared the team lead with two interceptions in 2013 while also receiving Academic All-District honors, with Merlino finishing the season with 31 tackles.
Gould, Johnson and Laux were all key members of the MIT linebacking corps during their time at MIT. Laux (Chemistry) set a new school record with 388 career tackles and was a first team All-NEFC and an Academic All-District pick in 2013 after leading the team with 98 stops. A second team All-NEFC pick, Gould (Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Chemistry) had a career-high 33 tackles in 2013 while Johnson (Mathematics) also set a career-high with 36 stops.
Thalheimer (Aerospace Engineering and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science) had his best year as a receiver for the Engineers in 2013, catching 11 balls for 142 yards and a TD.
The Hampshire Honor Society is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college career. A total of 838 players from 267 schools qualified for membership in the society's eighth year, marking the highest school participation in the history of the program, which began in 2007. MIT has had at least one representative on the team since 2008.