Week 4 I journeyed across the country to California and more specifically Stanford University in Palo Alto. It is my furthest travel to see more than one Watkins Man on a single team. This year Stanford has 5 Watkins men and 4 are in the starting lineup. There isn’t a game this season on the Stanford schedule where they play against another team with a Watkins Man. That’s perfectly fine as covering 5 young men on the same team gives me a sufficient number of individuals to cover in this update. I will unfortunately do my best to update you on every individual as succinctly as possible.
I will begin in chronological order with the great Bobby Okereke (Watkins Class of 2014) starting at the linebacker position. I like to call him Bangin’ Bobby or Bobby O! Bobby came to Stanford as one of the top safeties in high school. Stanford asked him to craft his body into a linebacker. He didn’t just craft his body but perfected his body and skills. Last year he led the team in tackles and was highly regarded as an NFL prospect. His projection was a late round selection and decided to return to increase his draft stock. Bobby is mobile, strong, instinctive and a technician at his position. I have spoken too many that I know in the NFL circles and he is a very highly regarded NFL prospect. As a 5th year senior he graduated from Stanford with a degree in engineering and is currently working on his master’s degree! Two Stanford degrees and an NFL career in his future. What an incredible Watkins Man. Bryce Love (Watkins Class of 2015) is the most recognized Watkins man on the Stanford roster as the starting running back. Bryce was 2nd in the voting for last year’s Heisman trophy ceremony amassing over 2000 yards in the 2017 football season. It was a dream season for him where he demonstrated his explosiveness and blazing world class speed. Every week the nation waited for him to perform. Bryce was ahead of the second pick in this year’s NFL draft in the Heisman race. He made national headlines when he said the lure of millions in the 2017 NFL draft wasn’t as valuable as his Stanford degree in pursuit of a medical profession. Bryce is scheduled to graduate in June accomplishing his goal of a Stanford degree. Congratulations to Bryce for valuing the one asset which will pay dividends for his entire existence. Frank Buncom (Watkins Class of 2015) is the starting safety for Stanford. Because he adorned his tuxedo with two bow ties at his Watkins Award ceremony, I call him Bow Tie Buncom. Frank was the former roommate of Watkins man Justin Reid now with the NFL Houston Texans. Frank is doing a great job anchoring a young secondary for the Stanford defense. Last year he started half of the season, but this year he is having his best season by far. He is all over the field making tackles and pass break ups. It’s the opinion of many that he will get a shot at the NFL, but he and his family’s priority is his graduation which he will in June with a degree in Human Biology and a GPA of 3.5. Connor Weddington (Watkins Class of 2017) was poised to start this season as a receiver for Stanford. In the first game of the season he tore the meniscus ligament in his knee setting him back for this season. He has decided to redshirt this year. I really see Conner as the next Bryce love as they have many of the same characteristics; very strong and explosive with world class speed. Despite his setback on the field this year he has remained steadfast in his commitment to education majoring in Science Technology & Society Innovation with a GPA of 3.3. Lastly Ryan Johnson (Watkins Class of 2017) is a defensive end with Stanford. Ryan redshirted last season because of an already existing injury in high school. He had surgery before camp started which didn’t even give him a chance to practice until half way through the season. This season as a red shirt freshman is essentially his first season on the field. Second on the depth chart he is getting some opportunities every game to gain valuable experience. I believe next year will be his opportunity to crack the starting lineup. I can see by his interaction with his teammates he is already regarded as a leader among his peers. Classes are also going well as he is pursuing a major in economics with a GPA of 3.4. Major kudos for these young men for navigating the Stanford curriculum while continuing to perform at a high level on the field.
I have a very long history of Watkins Men as Stanford that dates back to 1999. The most enjoyable part of visiting Stanford (aka The Farm) is seeing some of the older alumni. I saw Chris Lewis, Luke Powell, Jason Evans, Marcus McCutcheon, Emeka Nnoli, Jordan Watkins and many more. As with many of the past several years, I was hosted and stayed with honorary Watkins Man Julian Jenkins. I also get the opportunity to see many of the parents in the same weekend. This weekend I got the chance to tailgate and share time with Mr. & Mrs. Okereke, Mr. & Mrs. Love and Mr. & Mrs. Buncom. Each and every one of them send their regards for the Watkins family. Stanford played what I believe to have been the best game this season. The outcome was heart breaking as they came up short in the end. They dominated most of the game but the scoreboard didn’t reward them for their efforts. I am very proud of their efforts and look forward to the remainder of their season.
** Games of the week are the games that are featuring Watkins Alumni. Everette will be in attendance. The second team listed above is the home team should you plan to attend. You can follow him real time on Twitter at Everedy65
National Alliance of African-American Athletes
Watkins Game of The Week