VOL. 127 | NO. 163 | Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Going the Extra Mile
By Aisling Maki
University of Memphis senior linebacker Akeem Davis is one of 117 college football players to be nominated for the 2012 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team.
University of Memphis senior linebacker Akeem Davis has been honored for his work in the community, including reading books to students.
(Photos Courtesy of University of Memphis Athletic Department)
The award recognizes significant contributions to volunteerism and community service made by college football student-athletes across the nation.
Nominees this year hail from 35 states and 117 colleges and universities, and past Allstate AFCA Good Works Team members include Super Bowl champion quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning.
Davis, a graduate student who received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis in December, said the nomination took him by surprise.
“People are looking at your contributions to society,” he said. “It was a surprise and I feel humbled just to be nominated.”
Davis was selected a defensive captain by his teammates following a junior season in which he ranked second on the team in tackles with 78, including 57 solo stops while playing all 12 games primarily at nickelback.
During the season, Davis led the team with three interceptions and had eight tackles for loss.
While there’s not much doubt about Davis’ fortitude as a football player, his athletic talent has no bearing on his nomination to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Award recipients represent the sport’s finest in terms of character and leadership in the community.
To meet the criteria set forth by Allstate and the AFCA, each player must be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or community service while maintaining a strong academic standing.
“After looking through the list of nominees for the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, we’re recognizing some of the best student-athletes in all of college football,” AFCA executive director Grant Teaff said in a statement. “These 117 nominees understand the impact each of them has on their schools and communities, and it gives me great pleasure in recognizing their efforts for what they stand for and what they mean to college football.”
Davis’ volunteerism and community service during his playing career has been extensive.
He has participated in multiple Dr. Seuss “Read Across America” days, reading to children at local elementary schools, and has participated throughout his career in the university’s Athletic Life Skills Department’s Read to Succeed program.
During the past school year, he volunteered weekly at Hanley Elementary School, where he tutored fifth graders to prepare them for Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) achievement tests.
And last fall, Davis served as a volunteer at the Children’s Museum of Memphis, leading tours around the museum and doing interactive projects with kids.
University of Memphis football player Akeem Davis has been nominated for the 2012 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.
“I’m just trying to be an example for them,” said Davis, a Laurel, Miss., native. “I think that once they get older and mature, they may do their own things for a little while, but they’ll always revert back to what they learned as a child – that example they saw as a child. That’s why I love working with those kids.”
Another cause close to Davis’ heart is breast cancer awareness. His mother died of breast cancer during the 2010 season.
During the 2011 season, he was instrumental in having the football coaching staff and team wear pink wristbands and socks for Breast Cancer Awareness during the Tigers’ Oct. 15 game against East Carolina University.
He also has been an annual participant in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service event at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, joining other University of Memphis student-athletes in welcoming guests and leading tours of the museum.
Davis is also active in his church, First Baptist Church Broad Avenue, conducting Bible study and giving church members tours of a new church currently under construction.
“Akeem is what we all hope our son or daughter will grow up to be,” said University of Memphis Tigers football coach Justin Fuente. “Great work ethic, integrity, leadership, intelligence – those are all words which describe Akeem. He’s a great human being.”
Sports information directors across the nation submitted nominations on behalf of their schools.
A special voting panel, which consists of former Allstate AFCA Good Works Team members and prominent college football media members, will select two 11-player Good Works Teams – one comprised of players from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and another representing players from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, III and the NAIA.
The final roster of 22 award recipients will be unveiled in September.
The Memphis Tigers open the 2012 season Saturday, Sept. 1, when they will host the University of Tennessee at Martin.