Robert Noles/Opelika Observer
By Morgan Bryce
Paving the way for an offense that rushed for more than 3,000 yards last season, Opelika High School senior, former left tackle and Duke University football signee RaKavius Chambers has recently received two national recognitions for his contributions off the gridiron.
Chambers was named the Section 3 recipient of the National High School Heart of the Arts Award for his involvement in the school’s symphonic band, show choir and theatre troupe, and winner of the 26th annual Franklin D. Watkins Award for the nation’s top black scholar athlete. He said he hopes these recognitions inspire and remind others that anything is possible.
“I hope I leave behind a legacy of hope, and students think when they see me, ‘if he can do it, so can I,’ … if this young black kid from Opelika can make it out of here and go to Duke University, and get all these different awards, I hope I can inspire other students to be the best they can possibly be,” Chambers said. “Whether it’s in the arts, or even the technical departments, and all the other clubs that Opelika offers, I just want to be a guy that they can look to and strive to be better than.”
Chambers, the son of former Auburn University defensive end Roderick Chambers, started competing in organized football in the seventh grade.
Always an offensive lineman, Chambers said his opportunity to showcase his blocking prowess came during a pivotal stretch of the 2015 edition of the Opelika-Auburn rivalry, following an injury to starting right tackle Bryant Norrell.
“I was terrified, because it was the Auburn game, and you didn’t want to mess up anything and be sure that the seniors get their last win. But as soon as I started playing, I realized it was time to relax and get the job done,” Chambers said.
His performance cemented him as a starter, and the following week, he was shuffled to the left tackle spot, where he would make a name for himself during the next two seasons.
Chambers said he began receiving scholarship offers at the end of his sophomore year from Division I schools like Bowling Green, Minnesota and University of Alabama-Birmingham.
However, only two schools were on Chambers’ radar: Auburn and Duke.
After attending a medical camp on Duke’s campus last summer and witnessing a live, open-heart operation in person, he said he knew he wanted to pursue a medical career, and Duke’s elite medical school program would play a major factor in where he committed. That, paired with Duke’s rising prominence in the college football landscape, made signing with Duke an easy decision, according to Chambers.
Chambers said he has a goal of playing in the NFL, but plans to pursue a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon to save lives.
Leaving his beloved school and hometown to go to Durham, N.C., will be difficult, but he is forever grateful for Opelika and its lasting impact on his life.
“I’m going to miss the family atmosphere and knowing everybody’s name … we have some good teachers, a good community … and it’s an amazing place that I’m proud of and to call home,” Chambers said.