Joshua Davis remembered the words of comfort his grandmother Alice Sparrow gave him before she died last year.
“Keep focus, everything is going to be alright,” Davis said.
Marked by personal pain the last couple of the years, Davis flashed an enormous smile as he walked into the corridor at Dunbar High School Wednesday morning. Moments later, his dream was realized as he grant in-aid letter with Morgan State University.
Dreams became reality for hundreds for high school seniors across the area Wednesday, the first day of the national letter of intent period for football, soccer, field hockey track and field, cross country and men’s water polo. Most of attention centered on football as the first Wednesday in February is like the high school athletic equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday.
Dunbar had six players secured their future plans with DeonTay McManus headed to West Virginia University, Terrence Williams and Ernest Hawkins to Texas-El Paso, linebacker Charles Brown headed to Shepherd University and Morgan State getting Lavar Highsmith, in addition to Davis.
The leader of a massive offensive front that helped pave the way to a second consecutive Class 1A championship last fall, Davis, 6-foot-3 and 365 pounds, lost his grandmother before the start of the postseason. More than a year ago, his mother, Glenda Davis, passed away.
Davis’ great grandmother, Maglene Pannell, was by his side Wednesday as he signed off on the scholarship to the nearby Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school. He said he’s been able to his lean on his Dunbar family through the difficult times.
“They never let anyone get left by the waste side,” said Davis. “They always encouraged me to do better. The world wasn’t ending because my mother and grandmother had passed.”
“My slogan to him was always ‘you got to make it,’” said Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith. “He has to take the opportunity presented to him. He’s a great kid.”
This year’s senior football class is arguably the best with talent spread all over the nation’s top conference. Gilman School’s Cyrus Jones, the area’s No. 1 player, signed with national champion Alabama while teammate Brian Gaia and Calvert Hall College’s Daquan Davis and Trevor Williams signed with Penn State of the Big 10.
Boys’ Latin linemen Greg Pyke is also headed to the nation’s top conference, the Southeastern Conference where he’ll play for Georgia. Charles Tapper from City College signed with Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma.
Donovan Riley from Poly signed with Atlantic Coast Conference champion Virginia Tech, and McDonogh School’s Roman Braglio and Allan Jackson are headed to the ACC to Maryland and Duke, respectively. Franklin wide receiver Ian Thomas will play for Rutgers in the Big East Conference.