Local teen, Levi Gholson, was surprised to learn that he’d not only been nominated for the national Brandon Burlson Award but that he’d been chosen as a 2020 honoree. 

“I was very shocked and honored to have been nominated for this type of award,” said Gholson of his unexpected recognition. 

Clay Baker, a member of Carlisle ISD’s coaching staff, secretly nominated Gholson for the character award. Witnessing his determination to succeed not only in sports but academia Baker felt he was the perfect candidate for this character award. “Levi is very deserving of this award. Levi is the type kid that is going to make sure he takes care of all his business on and off the field. Whatever you ask Levi to do you know that he is going to do it to the best of his ability, and that is all that you can ask of any young man. When you get a student-athlete like Levi that not only excels in the classroom but gives you 100% effort every day at practice it makes your job as a Coach that much more enjoyable,” said Baker. “One of the main criteria for being a Burlsworth Award recipient is being a person of high character, and Levi without a doubt fits that bill. I couldn’t be more proud of Levi for receiving the Brandon Burlsworth Character Award.”

Gholson has been accepted to Texas A&M where he expects to start in August. He was recently informed that he’d been accepted into the E-2 Corps of Cadets unit, the group responsible for caring for the school’s mascot, Reveille IX. This outfit prides itself on its professionalism, academic excellence, campus-wide involvement, and challenging environment. 

Offering a word of advice to students following in his footsteps Gholson said, “Somebody is always watching so live your life accordingly. It may be a teacher looking to nominate you for a scholarship or just another student looking for the right path to follow but someone is looking.” 


The Burlsworth Story

When Brandon Burlsworth arrived on campus in 1994 as a walk-on, he had no money, no famous last name, and absolutely no Division 1 scholarship offers. 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 in 1998, and the first All-American from the University of Arkansas in a decade. His success was not limited to the gridiron. He was also named to the All-SEC Academic Honor Roll 1995-1998 and was the first football player in the entire history of his university to earn a Master’s degree “before” playing his last game. Brandon was selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the 63rd overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft. After minicamp, he was projected by his coaches to start as a rookie. 

Unfortunately, Brandon was tragically killed in a head-on automobile collision just 11 days after the draft. Today, the University of Arkansas has created an endowment in Brandon’s name. Eighteen $5,000 academic scholarships and one $10,000 Walk-0n athletic scholarship are awarded each year to enrolled University of Arkansas upper class-men who exemplify the qualities that Brandon represented. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation is engaged in various charitable endeavors including the provision of free eye care to thousands of underprivileged children. In 2010 the Burlsworth Trophy was created to honor the achievements and successes of the walk-on athlete. This award is presented annually to the most outstanding Division 1 college football player who began his career as a walk-on.

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