Contributed by Ken McLemore, Communication Director, Hope Public Schools
HOPE – Hope High School graduating senior Bobcat Christopher Haywood wore the glasses here Thursday night.
Hope Public Schools Co-Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Phillip Turner announced as an addendum to the annual HHS Senior Awards Night that Haywood has been named a Brandon Burlsworth Character Award honoree.
“Chris is well-deserving of this award,” Turner said. “Chris is a very high-character young man who exemplifies both high character and sportsmanship on and off the field.”
Those particular qualities are key criteria in the nationwide selections of winners of the award. But, Turner noted that Haywood excels elsewhere, as well.
“He is number two in his class, so he excels in the classroom,” he said.
And, while the award is not given particularly for athletic accomplishment, Turner said that Haywood excels on the playing field.
“He is a three-year letterman in football; and, this past season, he was our team captain,” he said.
Haywood was recognized as the 2018-2019 Outstanding Linebacker for the Bobcats at the annual HHS All-Sports Banquet on May. 6.
The award recognizes high school athletes from nominations nationwide who reflect the ideals and values that its namesake, Brandon Burlsworth, brought to the University of Arkansas Razorback football program from 1994-1998.
Burlsworth, known for his distinctive black square-framed glasses, was a walk-on for the Hogs’ program in 1994 who had no outstanding high school athletic resume to recommend him to the team, according to the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation biography.
“Through his unbelievable work ethic and ceaseless determination, Brandon not only earned a scholarship, but became team captain, All-SEC 1997-1998, First Team All-American (1998), and was the first All-American from the University of Arkansas in a decade,” the biography notes.
Burlsworth was named All-SEC Academic Honor Roll from 1995-1998, and was the first football player in the history of the U of A to earn a Master’s degree before playing his final Razorback football game.
Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1999, Burlsworth was killed in a car wreck 11 days after the NFL Draft; and, the foundation which bears his name was subsequently established.
Wearing a mock pair of Burlsworth’s famed eyewear, Haywood said after the presentation that he was astonished by the award.
“It’s truly an honor for me,” Haywood said. “I am a huge Razorback fan, and I know the Brandon Burlsworth story. I am just truly honored.”