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Four Panthers sign to play college ball
Panther coach Kirk Warren watches as, from left, Calvin Holmes, Jacari Roberts, Jacquez Williams and Martial Washington sign their college letters of intent. - photo by Patty Leon

Liberty County football players Calvin Holmes, Jacari Roberts, Jacquez Williams and Martial Washington signed letters of intent to play football at college Wednesday morning during National Signing Day.

Holmes and Roberts signed to play at Fort Valley State University. Williams, who had committed to Wake Forest earlier this year, made his Demon Deacon commitment official. Washington signed to play for Georgia Southern.

The players signed their letters in front of a crowd of classmates, family and friends and the media inside the school’s gym.
Williams started getting varsity experience as a freshman when he played in four games, rushing for 47 yards. That season was just the start for the running back, who ended with 2,200 career rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. The speedster also has great hands, making 68 receptions for 1,155 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“I went to camp there in July and I performed and ran my 40 and did my shuttle drills and all that, and I really just fell in love with the school as a whole,” Williams said about Wake Forest. “I had to make a decision that was best for me… The coaches knew what I had to bring to the table and with that being said, I feel like Wake Forest is just another home away from home.” 

While Williams’ is noted for offensive, he said Wake Forest is looking at him as a rover linebacker. It shouldn’t be a difficult transition for the all-around athlete. Williams made 63 career total tackles, three sacks for 25 yards loss, caused two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and deflected a pass. He had 3,472 all-purpose yards.

“It’s all kinds of surreal… Growing up as a kid and playing rec ball, all I kept saying was I just want to play big time football and the fact that it is here,” Williams said. “It didn’t really hit me until I got to school this morning and all my friends and classmates were congratulating me … I did this ... it was just crazy and I’m just trying to bottle up my emotions.”

Williams plans to study business with a concentration in economics.
“The physical aspect for college will be there but it’s more about the mental game and learning the X’s and O’s,” he said. “I’ve been at home watching film trying to get my X’s, P’s and Q’s right because football is 20 percent physical but 80 percent mental.”

Roberts said Fort Valley State felt like being with his family when he visited the campus.
“Everyone is treated the same, like a big family and big community,” he said noting signing day was emotional. “It felt like a dream. I didn’t think I would be here. My recruiting didn’t go as well as I thought. So signing today … is a dream.”

Roberts said he plans to study engineering. At Liberty, Roberts played linebacker and defensive end, accumulating 263 total career tackles and 15 sacks. He caused six fumbles and made one interception. Offensively Roberts had 166 rushing yards on 32 carries with six touchdowns. He had eight receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown.

Holmes, also a linebacker, played all four years for the Panther varsity, netting 189 tackles and seven interceptions. He caused five fumbles and recovered two.
Holmes said the expansive and rural campus at Fort Valley caught his attention.

“When I went on my first official visit, the atmosphere was nice … for my major, animal veterinary science, they grasped my attention,” he said.
Holmes said he hadn’t been sure he would get to play at the next level.
“I was always told I would go somewhere, but I really never thought it would come true. It’s a miracle,” he said.

Washington spent his high school career at Liberty County and Richmond Hill. He had verbally committed to GSU, but de-committed when Eagles coach Willie Fritz left.

“I love the new coaches they have this year,” Washington said, explaining why he again decided on GSU. “They are going to win, and I want to win. I worked hard all three of my years. I worked for this moment. I feel great and I earned this Everything I got I earned it.”
Washington said the Eagles are getting a hard-nosed safety. He plans to study business management.

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