Tonka hemingway and braden davis
Watkins Game of the Week 3 and Game 4 summoned me to Columbia, South Carolina, to see Tonka Hemingway perform on the field for the first time since high school. Braden Davis has since joined Tonka as a freshman quarterback from our most recent class. Circumstances his first year and covid his second year have me now attending my first game to Gamecock Nation! Lena (mom), Kenneth (dad), and sister welcomed me with open arms. This is of the few major college football stadiums I have yet to visit in my venture to see Watkins men perform.
Tonka “Hemi” Hemingway (Watkins Class of 2020) is now the starting defensive tackle for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. The journey to the starting position has not come easy. Hemi redshirted his first year, and after that season, his recruiting head coach was released. We know how much of a challenge that can be. While the Covid season gave everyone fits, he continued to be worked in on defensive line packages. This year he is coming into his own on the line. His weight has been adjusted up and down by the football staff. However, he is now a lean 285 and dominating. True to the name, he overpowers his opposition like a real Tonka Truck with a Hemi Engine. He still has two years of eligibility, but we will see how things continue to progress. In recent weeks, he has been used as a tight end, scoring touchdowns and returning an extra blocked point for a touchdown. This speaks to how his footwork and agility continue to improve at an elite level. Currently, he is ranked #2 in the SEC in the pash rushing winning percentage. For this particular game, he was selected as the team captain, showing his leadership position on his team. As Hemi continues to improve on the gridiron, he is dedicated to the classroom. He received the highest GPA on the defensive Award this season, maintaining a 3.4 GPA in Public Health Major. Braden “BD” Davis (Watkins Class of 2022) arrived as a freshman on campus this past spring. BD joined South Carolina as the top QB in the nation last year in high school. He is absorbing the offense like a sponge while learning behind one of the top projected quarterbacks in this upcoming NFL draft. He will be the future quarterback of the Gamecocks. The University of South Carolina football team is on the rise!
This reunion was special as I had not seen the Hemingway family since the day before Covid 19 changed the world. Mr. Hemingway got tickets for me and our Chairperson, Vareva Harris. Before the game, Vareva treated me to some great BBQ, and Kenneth was a sight for sore eyes when we got to the game. Tonka had a good match while the Gamecocks dominated Charlotte. The Hemingway family sends their regards!
stanford vs. usc
Watkins Game of the Week 2 took me on a journey across the country to the farm at Stanford University. I checked my past calendar, and I haven't been on the Stanford campus for three years. One year was lost to covid, and I attended the Stanford/USC game in Los Angeles last year. Of course, it's a different kind of rivalry between Stanford and USC, but on this occasion, the top 10 ranked trojans were coming north to Palo Alto. We have 3 Watkins men in this competition. Elijah Higgins and Aeneas DiCosmo at Stanford and Charles Thompson Jr at USC. Having attended Stanford vs. USC several times in recent years, my excitement mounted to get out there to see my friends from Stanford whom I hadn't seen in a while.
Elijah Higgins (Watkins Class of 2019) is Stanford's starting receiver/tight end. Stanford's unique hybrid position has translated well to the NFL over the past decade. E. Higg could have come out for the draft last year projected as a 3rd round draft pick. He decided to return and get his Stanford degree before taking on his next endeavor. Elijah has always been a freak of nature physically. He has the speed, agility, and mobility of the receiver. Imagine seeing an armored car traveling with the speed and grace of a bullet train. Standing 6'5" tall and roughly 245 pounds, Higgie is a much more physical specimen than his accompanying linemen. Last year, with a lack of experience at the quarterback position at Stanford, he still amassed over 40 catches. This year we have a much larger goal as we audition for the NFL. Elijah has taken not only a leadership role on his team but also in the entire conference. He has worked very hard to protect the rights of his fellow athletes. I look forward to a great season and a front-row seat to his high draft position in the 2023 NFL Draft. While being the busiest person on campus, he is focused on graduating this year with a Stanford degree in #$##. Aeneas" AD" DiCosmo (Watkins Class of 2019) is finally in the first team rotation at Stanford. It's been a fight for him to get on the field at Stanford. Current defensive schemes have better utilized his skill set. I must admit marveling at what appears to be tree trunks for legs. How good it is to see him battling with his teammates and contributing. Aeneas' education is more important to him than sports as he is also on course to graduate this year with a Stanford Degree in Film and Media with a minor in Chinese. And yes, no surprise, he will graduate from Stanford with a GPA of 3.8. Yes, I said it is a 3.8GPA!!! On the other side of the ball at USC is Chris Thompson (Watkins Class of 2020) in the safety position. In his third season, Chris has had difficulty getting on the field as he is not playing for his 3rd head coach in 3 years. That's a near-impossible feat. Despite this challenge, he is included on some of the defensive packages, and I am sure he will prove his value as an elite player. In time he will shine. Chris informed me that he wouldn't travel to Stanford for this game due to an injury. Speaking to Chris, he reminded me that things would happen in God's time. Regardless of his tumultuous journey, he hasn't slipped in class. His dedication to education has him on course to graduate early with a degree in Finance with a 3.7 GPA!!
The score would lead one to believe that the highly ranked USC team dominated Stanford; however, there were an excessive number of missed scoring opportunities by Stanford. Inside the 10-yard line 3 times and walked away with no points. My joy was seeing George and Karon, parents of Elijah, and Maia, the mother of Aeneas and Anthony, his dad. Much love to Mike Eubanks and the Stanford program for the ultimate hospitality. Everyone at Stanford and parents sends their regards to the Watkins Family.