By the numbers
• Jeremy Caldwell-Fabregas, Liberty County — (career) 151 solo tackles, 214 total tackles, 798 all-purpose yards, 13 sacks
• LaBaron Anthony, Bradwell — (senior season) 128 carries for 619 yards and seven touchdowns, 73-of-134 for 682 passing yards and two touchdowns, 1,301 total yards.
Two local opposing football players have decided to play on the same college team.
Liberty County High School all-around athlete Jeremy Caldwell-Fabregas penned his name to a letter of intent to join West Alabama during a signing ceremony Wednesday morning in the school’s media center. Later that day, Caldwell-Fabregas went over to Bradwell Institute to support his longtime friend LaBaron Anthony as he also signed up for the UWA Tiger football program.
Both student athletes said they had official visits to Shorter University and West Alabama. Caldwell-Fabregas said once they completed their visits, the choice was easy.
“The decision for me to choose West Alabama over Shorter University was the atmosphere,” he said. “They are a good, powerhouse team and they know how to win. They have won their conference championship two years in a row. And I feel that I deserve that … I worked hard for four years and I feel I deserve to be on a winning team. I am not trying to say anything bad about Shorter. They have a good program and I liked their coaching staff and everything, but the decision was made pretty much when I stepped on campus in Livingston.”
Caldwell-Fabregas, who plans to study nursing, said the coaching staff is looking at him to fill in as the Tigers’ strong safety.
During his signing, the outgoing Panther linebacker and wide receiver sat with his brother, Joseph Caldwell-Jones, and mother, Vieta Caldwell-Fabregas, while holding up a picture frame of his father, Richard Fabregas.
“This is my biological father; he passed away about a year ago,” the new Tiger said. “This is a big thing and it kind of hurts that he is not here, but he is looking down, smiling, he is watching and seeing this. My dad and I always talked about football … he couldn’t wait for me to sign and he always had my back no matter what. It is actually kind of funny because one of the last conversations I actually had with him, he told me that I was going to end up going to college in Alabama, which blows my mind to this day … I appreciate all he did for me. I love him, I miss him, but I know he is still here somewhere.”
Caldwell-Fabregas said he looks forward to getting his education while winning football games and thanked the coaching staff, his friends and family and all his supporters who he said kept his head straight and in focus.
“This day means everything … he is my youngest and he has grown up to be quite a young man,” his mom said. “I am very proud of him.”
Panther coach Kirk Warner said Caldwell-Fabregas shined despite playing alongside Ohio State signee Raekwon McMillan.
“Raekwon was the Batman, but Jeremy was definitely the Robin,” Warner said. “Raekwon would not be where he was without Jeremy’s support and vice versa. They complemented each other. Raekwon has gone on and is doing his thing, and hopefully Jeremy will be following in his footsteps come August.”
At the ceremony at Bradwell, Anthony said he was glad Caldwell-Fabregas chose West Alabama.
“I wanted to go where he wanted to go, so that helped me make my choice,” Anthony said. “If he wanted to go to Shorter, I would have gone to Shorter, but we both liked West Alabama and I like it more than Shorter. So when he decided to commit, I knew I was going to as well.”
Anthony said when they took their official visit, the coaching staff was welcoming and the campus was nice.
“And I could see myself there for four years,” he said. “Once the coaches offered, it was pretty much a done deal right there. I came home and I talked to my mom, but I knew I was going to West Alabama.
Anthony, who plans to major in history, said the coaching staff was going to evaluate him as a potential quarterback and wide receiver, which seemed to satisfy him.
“As long as I am on the field and making the plays for the team,” he said.
LaQuinda Davis said she is happy for her son but called the moment bittersweet since he is the youngest in her family. She added she plans to catch every single game.
“In the short few months during the season and even in the summer months leading up to it, I was able to see LB grow and mature,” Bradwell offensive coordinator Chris Reese said. “He grew with our offense and he was a leader, and I am glad allow him those opportunities. He had several big plays for us this season and he performed well, and it means a lot to see him take this next step because he earned it. He showed great commitment to the team and his senior year turned out excellent, so this means a lot.”
West Alabama went 8-3 overall last season and 5-1 in the Gulf South Conference, according to uwaathletics.com. The Tigers program, which is in NCAA Division II, has had five winning seasons in a row and made the playoffs three of the last five seasons.
Another Liberty County college-football signee, McMillan, already has been adjusting to life in college. He enrolled early at Ohio State to be eligible for spring practice with the Buckeyes. McMillan announced his decision to be a Buckeye in December.
“Life as a Buckeye is great,” McMillan said. “In the last month, I have gotten a new interpretation of ‘hard work and dedication.’ Our program is one of the hardest-working programs in the nation, and I think I made the best decision for myself for athletics and academics. Our recruiting class is built by our wants and needs at certain positions and how they would fit in our system.”
John Wood contributed to this article.