River Tomlinson is used to jumping hurdles as the Whitehouse native ran the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles in high school.
On Thursday, he got a huge assist on overcoming another hurdle — college tutition — as Tomlinson was named the winner of the Fifth Annual Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Scholarship.
Although Campbell was ill and could not attend, his son, Christian Campbell, presented Tomlinson the $5,000 scholarship during a luncheon on Thursday in the Rose Room at Willow Brook Country Club.
Tomlinson graduated as salutatorian of his class at Whitehouse High School. He had a near perfect SAT score and has chosen a major of biophysics. His education will begin at University of Texas at Austin with plans to earn a PhD.
“For the greater part of my intellectual and personal life, I have pondered life, the universe, and how people can work with our surroundings and physical laws to become more,” Tomlinson said. “I wish for my life’s work to be defined by my contributions to the betterment of mankind.”
Tomlinson intends to use his skills and knowledge in a medical application, perhaps prosthetics design.
Tomlinson has been active on the University Interscholastic League science and math team, as a hurdler and relay runner in track and field, and as a volunteer with Church Under a Bridge. He also received the Rotary Young Citizen’s Award and Rotary Youth Leadership Award. In his “spare” time he works 20 hours a week at Kohl’s.
“This is very humbling to receive such an award,” Tomlinson said. “When I read the letter, I was so honored.”
Christian Campbell added, “There were so many great applications for this scholarship, but when I read River’s it was outstanding.”
The younger Campbell noted that is father said “River is now member of the Campbell family.” Also he said, while it is not a requirement, the Campbell family was happy to present the scholarship to a Longhorn.
“It was always the intent of The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award committee to give back to the community with a scholarship fund to help young athletes attend college,” Cindy Smoak, SPORTyler Executive Director, said. “Tomlinson was the perfect choice for this year’s scholarship winner not only for his athletic performance, but also for his academic work and his volunteerism in the community.”
Tomlinson reached the Class 5A Region II Track & Field Meet by placing second in district and area.
Along with the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Board Members, Tomlinson’s family of mother Amber Thomas and stepfather Jasen Thomas, and father Chad Tomlinson and stepmother Jamie Tomlinson were in attendance.
The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose High School Scholarship was established by SPORTyler, Inc. in 2014. This scholarship is awarded to graduating seniors from Smith County high schools who participated in varsity athletic programs. The intent of The Earl Campbell Scholarship is to encourage student athletes to succeed on and off the field.
Recipients should exemplify the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell, the scholarship’s namesake: integrity, teamwork, sportsmanship, persistence and community involvement.
She added the students do not have to play athletics in college and the scholarship is also on a need basis.
Previous scholarship recipients include: 2015 — Chapel Hill’s Schuyler Wages (LeTourneau University); 2016 — John Tyler’s Ashtyn Beal (Collin College); 2017 — Venisha Harmon, Tyler Lee (UT Dallas) and 2018 — Emmanuel Daniels, John Tyler (Texas A&M).
The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, announced in 2012 by the Tyler Chamber and SPORTyler, recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity; specifically tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals.
In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year DI Texas college.
The winners of the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award include: 2013 — Bryce Petty, quarterback, Baylor; 2014 — Trevone Boykin, quarterback, TCU; 2015 — Greg Ward Jr., quarterback, Houston; 2016 — D’Onta Foreman, running back, Texas; 2017 — Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma; and 2018 — Kyler Murray, Oklahoma.