With a record-breaking number of nominees, University of Memphis senior linebacker Akeem Davis has been named one of 10 finalists for the ARA (Awards and Recognition Association) Sportsmanship Award.
Given annually to one outstanding NCAA Division I collegiate football player who best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship, the award is now in its eighth year. Memphis' DeAngelo Williams was the inaugural winner in 2005.
The other finalists are Matt Barkley (USC), Rex Burkhead (Nebraska), Nick Carlson (Wyoming), Duron Harmon (Rutgers), Barrett Jones (Alabama), Collin Klein (Kansas State), Adam Replogle (Indiana), Eric Soza (UTSA) and Manti Te'o (Notre Dame).
During his playing career at Memphis, Davis' volunteerism and community service has been extensive.
He has participated in multiple Dr. Seuss Reed Across America Days, reading to children at local elementary schools. He has also participated throughout his career in the Athletic Life Skills department's Read to Succeed program. During the past school year he volunteered several week at Hanley Elementary where he tutored fifth graders to prepare them for TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) achievement tests.
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 ECU. The coordination of the team's efforts was very close to Davis' heart as his mother died of cancer during the 2010 season.
Davis has also been an annual participant in the Dr. Martin Luther King National Day of Service event at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, joining other U of M student-athletes in leading tours of the museum as well as assisting guests that come to the museum on MLK Day. Last fall he also served as a volunteer at the Children's Museum of Memphis, leading tours around the museum and doing interactive projects with kids.
He is also active in his church, First Baptist Broad Avenue Church. He has conducted Bible study and giving tours to church members of a new church during its construction.
Davis is currently pursuing a master's degree at the U of M after receiving his bachelor's degree in business administration (Finance) in December, 2011. As an undergraduate, he carried a 3.12 grade point average.
In three seasons, Davis has played in 30 career games with 142 tackles including 10.5 tackles for loss. He has forced four fumbles and recovered five during his career.
This year Davis ranks fourth on the team with 48 total tackles including 2 ½ tackles for lost yards and 1 ½ quarterback sacks. He has recovered two fumbles and forced another. He is one of only two players on the Memphis roster to start every game over the past two seasons (20).