The National Alliance of African American Athletes has announced the six finalists for the Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Award for the Class of 2020. The overall winner will be announced at the organization’s gala on March 14 in Arlington, Virginia.
Below are this year’s finalists who are selected based on their unweighted grade-point average, personal statements, extracurricular activities, community service and letters of recommendation. Each student-athlete’s summary is provided by the National Alliance of African American Athletes.
Vernon Broughton – Cy Ridge HS (Texas)
A defensive tackle who graduated high school early and enrolled at the University of Texas, Vernon Broughton was a four-year member of the honor roll and a member of the National Honor Society. He had perfect school attendance in 2019 and was an active volunteer at sports camps and with the homeless. He participated in the Clean Up Ministry, was a member of the Community Youth Leadership Program and was the Houston Class Act Awardee for Character. On the field, he was an All-American and two-time All-District honoree and played in the Under Armour All-America Game. As a senior, had 36 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and recovered two fumbles. He had a 4.1 GPA.
Terry “Tonka” Hemingway – Conway HS (South Carolina)
A defensive lineman who will play for the University of South Carolina, Terrell “Tonka” Hemingway is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Honor Society, the Social Studies Honor Society and the English Honor Society. He was a South Carolina Academic All-American and a member of the Youth Leadership Academy and Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy. He volunteered with Conway Football Parks and Recreation and Shepherds Table and tutored and mentored middle and elementary school students. On the field, as a senior he had 92 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, was named first-team all-state and played in the Shrine Bowl. Also an all-state basketball player and member of the Conway High baseball team. He has a 4.4 GPA.
Michael Reese – Cane Ridge HS (Tennessee)
A defensive lineman who graduated high school early and enrolled at Duke University, Michael Reese is a recipient of the Nashville All Region Academic Award and the Hume Academic Award. He volunteers with Best Buddies, Read Across America and Nashville Area Youth Football. On the field, he compiled 85 tackles, 25 tackles for loss and 11 sacks over his last two seasons. He was a three-time all-region honoree, two-time all-city selection and two-time region defensive player of the year. He has a 3.8 GPA.
Cody Simon – St. Peter’s Prep (New Jersey)
A linebacker who will play for Ohio State University, Cody Simon is a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. He volunteers with the Jersey Boys and Girls Club and the Ebony Club. On the field, he finished his high school career with 229 tackles, 11 sacks, five interceptions and six non-offensive touchdowns. He was named all-region and all-state and played in the All-American Bowl. He has a 3.9 GPA.
Christopher Thompson, Jr. – Duncanville HS (Texas)
A safety who graduated high school early and enrolled at Auburn University, Christopher Thompson Jr. was a member of the Fellowship for Christian Athletes, served as a Dallas Ambassador and was named Dallas Academic All State. He volunteered as a Dallas area youth mentor, the Dallas Food Pantry and as a youth basketball coach. He also was a member of the Duncanville Math Leadership Program. On the field, he led his team to consecutive appearances in the Texas 6A championship game, was ranked the No. 2 safety in the class of 2020, was a finalist for the Tom Landry Player of the Year and played in the Under Armour All America Game. He has a 3.9 GPA.
Kourt Williams II – St. John Bosco HS (California)
A safety who graduated high school early and enrolled at Ohio State University, Kourt Williams IIvolunteered at the St. John Bosco Sports Camp, as a Los Angeles Unified Literacy Coach, with the Los Angeles Community Service Project and with the Faithful Central Bible Church. On the field, he was the Long Beach Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the Press-Telegram Dream Team. He was MVP of the Nike Opening, a Butkus Award nominee, first-team All-State and a finalist for the All-American Bowl Man of the Year. He has a 3.8 GPA.
“The Watkins Award Class of 2020 features an incredible collection of student-athletes who have already made an impact on their school and in the community,” said J. Everette Pearsall, Executive Director of The Alliance. “These young men are ready for the future and prepared to succeed, on and off the football field. We look forward to recognizing these talented young men as the premier African American Scholar-Athletes in the United States.”