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9 PANTHERS sign scholarships to play college football

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By JOSH HAVARD/The Lufkin News

National Signing Day offered a little of everything at Lufkin High School as nine football players signed to play at the collegiate level starting next season.

A pair of Lufkin's biggest offensive weapons signed at the Division I level with University of Louisiana-Monroe, two players stayed close to home by inking with SFA and two more made the decision to head west to California.

All in all, it was another banner day for the Lufkin football program.

"Every one of these kids earned everything they got," Lufkin head coach and athletic director Todd Quick said. "They earned this with their work in the offseason, with their work in the classroom and with their work in the field. Things like this don't happen by accident and I'm proud of every single one of them."

Lufkin signees on Wednesday morning were Malik Jackson (Louisiana-Monroe), Isaiah Phillips (Louisiana-Monroe), Jeremiah Davis (SFA), Darren Woodson (Victor Valley), Savon Fields (Victor Valley), Max Quick (SFA), Quynton Cole (Texas A&M-Kingsville), Hunter Hollis (Northeastern State University) and Jacourtney Calvin (Texas State).

ULM could have a Lufkin feel in the years to come on offense where running back Phillips joined wide receiver Jackson.

Jackson was the team's leading receiver this past season and had drawn interest from various Division I schools. In the end, ULM was the right fit for him.

"It's been really stressful, but today is a relief to be able to sign to play there," Jackson said. "This is a big day for myself and my family. Just to see the smiles on all their faces makes it all worth while."

Phillips spent his senior season as one of the elite running backs both in the district and the state, although he didn't get many collegiate looks during the year.

Once Lufkin ended the season in the playoffs and he finished with 2,000 rushing yards, teams took notice, and when ULM offered him a scholarship, he knew he had found his new home.

"I feel like I had to go out there and battle every week," Phillips said. "I knew that if the offers came, then they would be there, and if they didn't, then that would be OK too. It's just rewarding that all the hard work paid off and I can be standing here today."

Calvin will be headed to San Marcos to continue his football career as a defensive end at Texas State.

He said that although he is thrilled for the next opportunity, the real work is just now starting.

"Going in there, I'm not the top dog anymore," Calvin said. "I know I've got to work to get to where I want to be. But this is a dream come true. It's a really special day."

A pair of Panthers will trade in their Lufkin purple for SFA purple starting next season as Davis and Quick signed with the Lumberjacks.

"It's close to home so hopefully I can go over there and be a hometown hero," Davis said. "This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. It's exciting to get the chance to live out my dreams."

Quick will join the Lumberjacks as a punter, although he could also see time as a holder or deep snapper. He earned his offer despite punting for less than a full season with the Panthers.

In addition to continuing his playing career, he had other bonuses for staying close to home.

"It's one place my dad can come watch me that won't be too far," Quick said, referring to Todd Quick, Lufkin's head coach. "Plus they've got the degree plan I need to major in criminal justice so I can be a game warden. I was kind of shocked I got this chance because I've only been punting for a year on varsity."

Woodson and Fields, two players who were key parts of the Lufkin defense, will make the long trip to California to join the Victor Valley program.

They said they are taking more than a teammate with them on the lengthy journey.

"It's almost like the start of a new life," Fields said. "We're going there and starting over. (Woodson) is like a brother to me. He's going to make me feel just like I'm at home. Some new doors are going to open for us in California."

"We're not going to be alone," Woodson said. "He's a brother to me, and that is part of what makes this decision a good one for me."

A pair of offensive linemen rounded out the signings for Lufkin.

Cole will continue his playing career at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Meanwhile, Hollis is headed to Oklahoma where he will play for Northeastern State.

"This has been a goal of mine ever since I started playing football," Hollis said. "This is an exciting day and I'm ready for the opportunity."

Wednesday marked the traditional National Signing Day in which players usually can make their decisions official. The first early signing day was held on Dec. 20, although no Lufkin players signed on that day.

 
 

Josh Havard's email address is jhavard@lufkindailynews.com.

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