PRAIRIE GROVE -- Character counts for Prairie Grove 2021 graduate Seth Vaughn, recipient of the Brandon Burlsworth Character Award.
The Brandon Burlsworth Character Award honors a player, who may or not be a top athletic performer, yet represents the ideals and values epitomized by the late Brandon Burlsworth -- to give 100 percent on the field and to stand as a moral example to his team. The Burlsworth Foundation hopes the award encourages each recipient to continue on his path of excellence and inspire others to follow his head.
Prairie Grove head football coach Danny Abshier presented the award to Vaughn on behalf of the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, which does not charge schools to participate. The award represents philanthropy supported by the Foundation.
This year's award included a bound certificate and Brandon Burlsworth's biography, "Through the Eyes of a Champion," as well as a personal video message for the honoree and team from Foundation President Marty Burlsworth, brother of Brandon Burlsworth.
When Brandon Burlsworth arrived on the University of Arkansas campus in 1994 as a walk-on, he was relatively unknown, virtually broke and had no Division 1 football scholarship offers coming out of Harrison High School where he was coached by the legendary Tommy Tice.
Determined to make the Razorback roster, Brandon Burlsworth demonstrated a tremendous work ethic and relentless determination in pursuit of his goal. Eventually, he earned a scholarship, became team captain, won All-SEC honors for 1997-1998, and was named First Team All-American in 1998 as the first All-American from the University of Arkansas in a decade.
Brandon Burlsworth applied himself off the gridiron, winning All-SEC Academic Honor Roll honors from 1995-1998 and became the first player in the history of Arkansas football to earn a Master's degree "before" playing his last game. Selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the 63rd overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft, after minicamp, he was projected by his pro coaches to start as a rookie.
A tragic head-on collision took Brandon Burlsworth's life at age 22 on April 28, 1999 just 11 days after the NFL draft.
The University of Arkansas created an endowment in Brandon Burlsworth's name -- handing out 18 total $5,000 academic scholarships and one $10,000 Walk-0n athletic scholarship each year to enrolled University of Arkansas upper classmen who are deemed to exemplify qualities that Brandon Burlsworth personified.
The 2016 movie, "Greater," which tells his story, was shot at Farmington's Myrl Massie Gymnasium and at Gravette Lions Stadium among other locations.
Among its activities, the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation engages 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.