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Nov, 2023

Pop Warner Announces 14th Annual College Football Award Finalists

Presented to a senior who leads on the field, in the classroom and in the community

LANGHORNE, PA – Pop Warner Little Scholars, the nation’s preeminent youth football organization, has announced five finalists for its 14th Annual Pop Warner College Football Award. The award was established in 2010 to recognize a senior who has made a difference on the field, in the classroom and in the community, and serves as a role model to Pop Warner’s young student-athletes.

This year’s finalists include:

  • Elijah McAllister, Auburn University linebacker: Leading one of this year’s top defenses in the SEC with 25 tackles and two sacks, McAllister earned Auburn’s team captaincy within just seven months of transferring from Vanderbilt, a testament to his leadership and dedication both on and off the field. McAllister’s commitment is even more evident in his educational pursuit as one of only two FBS players nationally undertaking a doctorate while actively competing. He received his bachelor's degree in medicine, health, and society with a double minor in business and psychology, along with a master's degree in education with an impressive 3.9 GPA, specializing in diversity and urban studies. In addition to his sport and studies, McAllister founded the All For One, One For All Foundation to support youth development through athletics and academics, and is a frequent organizer of community school and hospital visits, back-to-school supply drives, food donations and football camps.

  • Tony Bradford Jr., Texas Tech defensive lineman: Bradford has been a stalwart on the Red Raider defensive line for five years, starting 35 of 52 games and amassing 134 tackles, including 29 tackles for loss and 14 sacks, earning him two-time All-Big 12 honorable mentions. A key contributor to consecutive bowl victories for Texas Tech, Bradford is a two-time graduate of the university with bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology and interdisciplinary studies, respectively. Currently pursuing a graduate degree in public administration, he aspires to continue making a positive impact on society by pursuing law enforcement post-football. Bradford, a member of the 2022 AFCA Good Works Team, is recognized for his leadership on and off the field, contributing significantly to discussions within the Big 12 Conference and serving as a driving force behind Texas Tech's community service initiatives. Honored as the "honorary mayor" of Lubbock, Bradford actively engages with the local community and youth, leading initiatives like neighborhood cleanups, voter registration drives, peace walks and visits to area elementary schools, the Ronald McDonald House, the Texas Boys Ranch, South Plains Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Burgers and Badges and more. Bradford is a longtime member of the Texas Tech Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was selected this year to represent the university as part of the Big 12 Champions for Life campaign.

  • Malik Washington, University of Virginia wide receiver: Washington, a transfer from Northwestern, led his former team in receptions and yards in 2022 and was recognized as a Three-time Academic All-Big Ten and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. He holds a degree in psychology. At UVA, Washington is one of the top-ranked receivers in the nation,  currently ranked No. 1 in 100-yard Receiving Game; No. 2 in Total Receiving Yards and YPG; No. 2 in Total Receptions and RPG; and  No. 4 in All-Purpose Yards. He has the unique distinction of being the only player in the nation ranked in the top-5 for Receiving Yards per game, Receptions per Game, and Total Receiving Yards. Off the field, Washington is deeply committed to giving back to the community. At UVA, he organized a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workshop for his teammates and students across campus. During his time at Northwestern, he served on the football team's Leadership Council, the Executive Board of P.U.R.P.L.E., and as a peer Mentor dedicated to educating student-athletes on a multitude of wellness areas, including mental health, drug and alcohol awareness, and sexual violence prevention. He also volunteered at Lurie's Children Hospital, Orrington Elementary School, and Special Olympics.

  • Matthew Cindric, University of California, Berkeley offensive lineman: With 34 starts in 35 games at right guard and center positions, Cindric is a key cog in Cal’s offensive line, making significant contributions over the past five seasons, including helping to break the school record for the fewest turnovers in a full season. Recognized for his leadership qualities, Cindric was selected as the team captain for two consecutive years in 2022 and 2023, and seamlessly transitioned into a role as a student assistant coach after an unfortunate season-ending injury. Academically, Cindric has demonstrated consistent excellence, earning a spot on the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll for three consecutive seasons. Cindric has also earned recognition for his work in the community, named to the 2023 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and as a two-time semifinalist for awards like the Campbell Trophy, Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year, and the Wuerffel Trophy. Cindric’s philanthropic resume includes founder of the Golden Buddies Football Clinic for disabled youth, Student Director for Cal's Haas School of Business Student-Athlete Mentorship Program, co-founder of the Upcycle Gear Drive and leader of several other initiatives such as reading to students at local elementary schools and organizing worship and community service activities.

  • Ja'Mion Franklin, Duke University defensive tackle: Franklin, a defensive force for the Blue Devils, stands out not just for his two-year starting record but also for his exceptional leadership qualities. Designated as the team captain in 2023, Franklin goes beyond his football responsibilities to make a meaningful impact in the community. His involvement with, where he volunteers to collect names for the donor registry for bone marrow or cord blood transplant surgery, reflects his selflessness. But he has also shown a very personal commitment to giving back as demonstrated by his decision to undergo stem cell transplant surgery to help his father, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, as well as stepping into the role of family caretaker while his mother faced a stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis. Recognized for his outstanding community service, Franklin was named an ACC Top Six for Service recipient, an AFCA Good Works Team member, and a Wuerffel Trophy Semifinalist. His contributions extend to various organizations, including Reading with the Blue Devils, the Durham Community Food Pantry, Durham Rescue Mission, Urban Ministries of Durham, Duke Children’s Hospital, and the Emily K Center.

The Pop Warner Little Scholars National College Football Award will be announced on December 5 as part of the 66th Pop Warner Super Bowl at Camping World Stadium held on December 2 - December 9. Last year’s winner was University of Kentucky guard Kenneth Horsey, winner of the Finn Collier Service Award and Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award, nominee of the Wuerffel Trophy and a member of both the Allstate AFCA National Good Works Team and the SEC Community Service Team

"This year’s finalists represent the very heart and soul of Pop Warner’s core values: excellence on the field, dedication in the classroom, and an unwavering commitment to community service," said Jon Butler, Executive Director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. "They are not only exceptional athletes but also exemplary role models for our young athletes, proving that true success lies in the pursuit of athletics, academics, and community. We are immensely proud of their achievements and the positive impact they have made on their programs and communities."

Previous recipients have included, Prince Amukamara (Nebraska), Chase Minnifield (Virginia), Sean Renfree (Duke), Gary Bush (Purdue), Jordan Richards (Stanford), Brandon Chubb (Wake Forest), Evan Engram (Mississippi), Braxton Berrios (Miami), CJ Conrad (Kentucky), Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC), Ian Book (University of Notre Dame) and Elijah Hicks (University of California) and Horsey.


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