Orlando, Jan. 1 – The National Alliance of African American Athletes announced the six finalists for the 26th annual Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Award during today’s Under Armour All-America Football Game. The award will be presented on Saturday, March 11 at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel. This year’s finalists are:
• Rakavius Chambers, Opelika High School, Opelika, Ala.: member of the National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Mu Alpha Theta math honor society; volunteer for Relay for Life, Boys and Girls Club, Storybook Farm, Darden Head Start and The Big House Foundation. Named an Offense-Defense All American. Plays offensive line. Has a 4.3 GPA. Signed with Duke University.
• Justin Foster, Crest High School, Shelby, N.C.: member of Career & Technical Education Honor Society, Black Achievers; volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, elementary school mentoring program, football team literary program and Beta Club. Named the 2015 Defensive MVP in state championship game. Selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. Named a U.S. Army All-American. Has a 4.2 GPA. Plays linebacker. Signed with Clemson University.
• Ryan Johnson, St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Axis, Ala.: four-year honor student and winner of the Honors Academic Award. Member of the Key Club, Art Club and Elite Chapter of the Mobile Kappa League. Volunteer for the Rutledge Fellow Community Service Group, Harris Closet-Give Back for Those in Need, Habitat for Humanity. Is an usher at New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. Named first-team all-league and all-state and is an Under Armour All-American. Has a 3.9 GPA. Plays defensive end. Signed with Stanford University.
• Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cass Tech High School, Detroit: Honor Student; volunteers in the community and at a youth football camp, as well as with Never Give Up Youth and Forgotten Harvest; math and chemistry tutor. Named the Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year and the MLive Player of the Year. Selected a U.S. Army All-American and an Under Armour All-American. Has a 4.0 GPA. Plays wide receiver. Signed with University of Michigan.
• Isaiah Pryor, IMG Academy, Atlanta: Member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club. Recognized by the President’s Education Awards Program. Named Student of the Month. Mentors at youth football camps. IMG Top Gun Football Award recipient. Selected an Under Armour All-American. Has 3.9 GPA. Plays defensive back. Signed with Ohio State University.
• Connor Wedington, Sumner High School, Sumner, Wash.: four-year member of honor roll. Member of Washington Core Leadership Group, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Tutors elementary school students. Volunteer little league coach, Men Built for Others Club. Named all-league, all-Seattle and all-state. Named a Polynesian Bowl All-American. Has a 3.8 GPA. Signed with Stanford.
The finalists were selected based on their unweighted grade-point average, personal statement, extracurricular activities, community service and letters of recommendation. The 2017 Class will be recognized on March 11, where the winner of this year’s award will be announced. Sponsors of the event include Major Sponsor Under Armour, JMA Solutions, Peoples Financial Services, Wal-Mart, Dell Inc., Nash Management Group, Early Morning Software and Jostens Corporation, which produces the Watkins Award trophy and rings.
“This year’s 2017 Watkins Award features an incredible collection of fine student athletes,” said Everette Pearsall, executive director of The Alliance. “Each of these young men are well equipped for success academically. We have continued to recognize and honor the premier African American Scholar Athletes in the United States.”