Former Ole Miss stars Ben Brown, Mac Brown and Deane Leonard earn membership in Prestigious Hampshire Honor Society
OXFORD, Miss. – Too often in today’s college football landscape, the “student” part of “student-athlete” is overlooked. But three Ole Miss Rebels have been honored for their success when it comes to the academic arena.
Offensive lineman Ben Brown, punter Mac Brown and defensive back Deane Leonard each were selected to 2022 National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society, an outstanding academic achievement.
The Rebel Walk had a chance to get the players’ thoughts on this prestigious award.
Ben Brown, who graduated cum laude in exercise science in December, 2020, was a key to the success of the Rebels’ offensive line. His father, both grandfathers, uncle and great uncle all played at Ole Miss before him.
Brown started 40 games at guard and center in his college career before tearing his bicep last October and missing the remainder of the season. A stalwart on the line, Brown earned SEC All-Freshman team honors in 2018 and entered 2021 as a preseason third-team All-SEC honoree on four separate polls.
The Vicksburg native, who plans to pursue a career in physical therapy, continued work on a master’s degree in health promotion following graduation. He is currently preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft later this month.
“I always made my academics a top priority while I was a student athlete at Ole Miss,” Brown tells The Rebel Walk.
“I understood that football would not last forever, and I wanted to be prepared for life after football. I wanted to do my absolute best in both the classroom and on the football field. I am very honored by this recognition, and I am forever thankful to Ole Miss for providing me lifelong friendships, incredible memories, and a prestigious college degree. I am very grateful to be named to the NFF Hampshire Honor Society!”
Former Ole Miss OL Ben Brown
Mac Brown earned his degree in May 2020 in Integrated Marketing Communications and began working toward his MBA.
As a seventh grader, the Eden Prairie, Minn. native decided to join the fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) when his friend’s father, Michael Brandt, was diagnosed with the debilitating neurodegenerative disease that ultimately claimed his life. Mac and his sister Bailey started the ‘Awesome Lemonade Stand’ in his hometown.
They initially set out to raise $500, but over 10 years later, Brown and the Awesome Lemonade Stand have raised over $148,000 for ALS research. Held every year in June, the 2021 fundraiser raised nearly $45,000 alone.
On the field, Brown served as the Rebels’ punter and averaged 44.4 yards per punt as Ole Miss achieved its first 10-win regular season in school history.
“It’s a great feeling to be named among some outstanding former teammates and other players. Every award is special, it’s a honor to be recognized as a student-athlete, especially when we have to balance both.”
Former Rebel punter Mac Brown
Deane Leonard completed his degree in business while starring in the Ole Miss secondary and earning Chancellor’s Honor Roll recognition for consecutive semesters.
Before playing collegiately in the USA, Leonard played three seasons with the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, for the Dinos, where he was a two-time All-Canadian member. The cornerback continued his career at Ole Miss, where he played for the Rebels for two seasons.
Last season, Leonard notched 50 total tackles – 30 of them solo stops — along with a tackle for loss. He also broke up seven passes.
Leonard is fondly remembered by Rebels’ fans for picking up a Mississippi State fumble and returning it 84 yards in 2020. Last month, he caught the attention of pro scouts in Oxford on Ole Miss Pro Day when he ran a 4.39 forty-yard dash.
Despite his gridiron success, Leonard also valued his academics.
“I feel very grateful to be named on the NFF Hampshire Honor Society because it’s testament to the work done both on the field and the classroom. Accomplishments on the field are great but it’s equally important to strive as student as well.”
Former Ole Miss DB Deane Leonard
Archie Manning on the NFF Hampshire Honor Society
The Rebels’ trio are a part of 34 players from the Southeastern Conference to earn the distinction this season. Thirteen of the league’s teams had at least one member selected. Auburn led the way with seven players, Arkansas and Kentucky had four each while Ole Miss, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina had three.
Jon Hanson, the chairman and founder of the Hampshire Honor Society, provided the funds to begin the society in 2007.
“We have honored more than 14,000 student-athletes in the last 16 years thanks to Jon Hanson’s generosity,” Ole Miss legend and NFF Chairman Archie Manning said.
“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.”
Chairman Archie Manning on the Hamspire Honor Society
Congrats to Ben, Mac, Deane and all the honorees!
(Feature image credits: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss; Feature graphic: Lee Ann Herring, The Rebel Walk)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.