Five Dunbar Poets put pen to university letters of intent

Written by on February 15, 2012 in Featured, High Schools, Sports - No comments

Dunbar offensive lineman Joshua Davis holds up his letter of intent to play football at Morgan State with his great-grandmother Maglene Pannell. Photo by Jason Butt

At the tender age of 16, just before he was to enter his junior year of high school, Dunbar offensive lineman Joshua Davis’ mother passed away.

It was an agonizing time for him that left him down and in despair. But some of his mother Glenda Davis’ last words to him resonated.

“I want you to graduate,” she told him. “I want you to go to college.”

Two weeks ago Davis signed his letter of intent and will receive a needs-based scholarship to play football at Morgan State University, which allows him to stay close to home. Not only did his mother pass, but his grandmother, Alice Sparrow, passed the following year when Davis was 17. His great-grandmother, Maglene Pannell, has been taking care of him over the past year.

Sparrow was always around to help care for Davis when needed, which helped with his adjustment after his mother and grandmother passed away.

“When his mom died he just thought life wasn’t anymore,” Pannell said. “But being taught the word of God and being in church, he was able to overcome that after a while.”

Davis chose Morgan State over Lincoln University (Philadelphia) and Virginia State. Joining Davis at Morgan State is running back and Dunbar teammate Lavar Highsmith.

“Josh has overcome a lot, losing his mother and his grandmother,” Highsmith said. “His great-grandmother is still strong to this day to keep it going. It’s just in us. Nothing stops us, we keep it moving. We keep our strive going.”

Davis and Pannell both credited Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith with helping keep him on track for college. Pannell said Smith would phone her if something was wrong and always made sure Davis had a ride to school.

For Davis, he’s looking forward to the opportunity to continue playing football at the next level. And he knows his mom would have enjoyed to see him pledge to play at Morgan State.

“My mother would be ecstatic,” Davis said. “She’d be proud of me.”

Hawkins, Williams head to El Paso
After visiting the University of Texas-El Paso on Jan. 20, it was clear that’s where linebacker Ernest Hawkins wanted to be.

Hawkins took his official visit with cornerback Terrence Williams then and committed five days later. Williams had previously committed to UTEP in December. For Hawkins, something stuck out besides the chance of playing with his Dunbar teammate.

“That nice weather,” Hawkins said, smiling.

Both Hawkins and Williams will reunite with former Dunbar defensive lineman Horace Miller at UTEP. There’s also a chance for both players to compete for starting spots.

“They told me if I came in and worked hard that I could earn a starting position at corner,” Williams said. “I was the No. 1 recruit up there for the school. It’s on me now.”

Busy Charles Brown’s ready for pre-law
When Dunbar fullback Charles Brown isn’t busy practicing for Division II Shepherd University this fall, or preparing to walk-on to the baseball team, he’ll be hitting the books to get himself ready for law school.

Brown has hopes of being an attorney one day, having already decided to major in pre-law. His interest in law stems from competing on debate teams, and a love for reading and writing. Brown already plans to have a lot on his plate his freshman year, which is the way he’d prefer it to be.

“I like to be active,” Brown said. “Sleep is good for you but I’m not a big sleeper. I like to work hard so I think it’ll pay off in the end.”

McManus honors commitment, heading to West Virginia
In a day and age where recruits flip-flop and change commitments, Dunbar receiver Deontay McManus held his promise and signed his letter of intent to play football at West Virginia.

McManus said he was sold on West Virginia after visiting last summer. Though he was set on where he was going, he admitted with a smile that he was OK with playing some mind games to both the media and other coaching staffs vying for him.

“I threw some schools out there to throw people off,” McManus said. “But since day one I knew where I was going, I was 100 percent for West Virginia.”

Highsmith to play RB at Morgan State
Early in his recruitment, Highsmith thought he would head to Marshall University to play football. When it was all said and done, he chose Morgan State.

Most schools projected Highsmith as a linebacker in college. But only Morgan State promised him a chance to play running back early as graduation and injuries have left the Bears’ depth thin.

by Jason Butt

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