St. Paul’s defensive lineman Ryan Johnson and Opelika offensive lineman Rakavius Chambers have been named as two of six finalists for the Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Award.
The Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Award is presented by the National Alliance of African American Athletes. The award is given to promote academic excellence among young African Americans. Finalists were chosen based on their GPA, personal statements, extra-curricular activities, community service, and letters of recommendation.
Johnson, a four-star recruit who is signed with Stanford, is an Under-Armour All-American. Off the field, Johnson is a four-year honor student and winner of the Honors Academic Award, member of the Key Club and elite chapter of the Mobile Kappa League, volunteers for the Rutledge Fellow Community Service Group, Harris Closer-Give Back for Those in Need, and Habitat for Humanity, is an usher at New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, and has a 3.9 GPA. His Saints won the 2014 and ’15 Class 5A state titles but fell to rival Jackson in the quarterfinals of the 2016 playoffs.
Chambers is a three-star recruit signed with Duke, an Offense-Defense All-American, a member of the National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Mu Alpha Theta math honor society, volunteers for Relay for Life, Boys and Girls Club, Storybook Farm, Darden Head Start, and The Big House Foundation, and has a 4.3 GPA. The Bulldogs finished 13-2 with a 21-16 loss to Ramsay in the Class 6A state final this past year.
The other finalists for the Watkins Award are: Justin Foster (Clemson) of Shelby, NC, Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan) of Detroit, Isaiah Pryor (Ohio State) of Atlanta, and Connor Wedington (Stanford) of Sumner, WA. Past finalists have included Shane Battier, Ted Ginn Jr., Mohamed Massaquoi, Gerald McCoy, and Ben Tate.