Tonka Hemingway

Tonka Hemingway

Terrell Hemingway isn’t a household name.

Tonka Hemingway, however, is a different story.

Conway’s highly-touted defensive end is best known, not by the name on his birth certificate, but by the nickname his father gave him as a boy.

“I was a tough little kid,” he said.

It’s a moniker that fits, too. The 6-3, 280-pound junior just keeps trucking through offensive lines and attracting the attention of college coaches.

Hemingway’s first college offer came from South Carolina, but he’s since drawn interest from Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss, among other programs.

Apart from his power and speed, one of Hemingway’s greatest strengths is his ability to mentally prepare himself for an opposing offense.

“I like analyzing stuff, figuring out stuff you can do better,” he said.

Tiger coach Carlton Terry said his offense might find a way to use Hemingway as a tight end this fall, but the prized recruit is a staple on the other side of the ball.

“Tonka’s primary role will be defense,” Terry said.

Hemingway hasn’t made a college decision yet, and he’s still trying to figure out his sports trajectory. That’s because, in an era of specialization, Hemingway is a rarity — a multisport athlete.

In addition to being an elite defensive lineman, Hemingway is a power-hitting first baseman who can also pitch.

The 16-year-old said his dream is to play professionally in one of those sports. His older brother Junior achieved that level of success, playing wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs for three years.

But long before Tonka Hemingway’s gridiron dreams can come to fruition, Hemingway has a much simpler goal — taking on a more vocal role for the Tigers.

“To show leadership,” he said, “even though I’m young.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


I'm the editor of and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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