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Shaquan Johnson, left, and Chris Lawrence, center, recently signed to play college football. To their right is Southampton Indians Head Coach Willie Gillus. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS
Shaquan Johnson, left, and Chris Lawrence, center, recently signed to play college football. To their right is Southampton Indians Head Coach Willie Gillus. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

Two Southampton football players sign to play nearby

Published 9:41am Friday, April 11, 2014

COURTLAND—Two graduating Southampton Indians will go on to play college ball at nearby schools, North Carolina Wesleyan and Chowan University.

Shaquan Johnson will play defensive end at Chowan University, a Division II program, and Chris Lawrence will play for North Carolina Wesleyan, a Division III Program.

“We look at this as basically an opportunity show the impact that Southampton football has on the county, in being able to provide opportunities for young men who come out and participate in athletics and help us move the program forward,” said Head Coach Willie Gillus. “And now young kids can see what they can do if they participate in the program.”

Johnson said Chowan being nearby was a big factor for him, and he added that he liked the CIAA as a conference.

“It felt like a homey environment,” he said. “Everyone there seemed to be together when I went there. There was a warm feeling. I felt that would be good.”

For Lawrence, it was about the balance between playing and education that made him choose Wesleyan.

“I felt like it gave me the most opportunity to give me an education, and I’d still be able to play football at the same time,” he said. “I had some other options, but things did not work out as well as Wesleyan did.”

Johnson said he’d be playing defensive line, which is also where he played at high school. But he still was working this offseason to get ready.

“I’ve got to get myself ready, hit the weight room hard,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get out there and earn a position on the field, just do some good things.”

Lawrence played linebacker at the high school level, but he said they might switch him to defensive back or safety at the college level.

“I’m looking forward to making switch,” he said. “I’m working hard this offseason, working on my overall game, just to perfect everything I can before I go off.”

Johnson said he was planning to major in exercise science, with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician.

“My reasoning for majoring in that, is that I see it as stepping stone,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to be a physician, so, I take exercise science, work around in that field, maybe do some athletic training, and just move up, one step at a time.”

Marketing is more the focus for Lawrence.

“It’s just something I’m interested in doing,” he said. “I look at a company like Nike, and what they do with their marketing and stuff — they are very successful. It’s interesting.”

Both students were going to miss high school, but one a little more than the other.

“I’ll miss it a little,” said Johnson with a laugh. “I think college is going to be better than high school.”

“Of course I’ll miss it, this has been my home all my life,” Lawrence said. “I’ve got so many friends and memories, but it’s just time to move on.”

Gillus had nice things to say about both of them.

“Shaquan has done really well academically this year, to get his self in position to get a scholarship to play at the Division II level,” he said. “He will do well. He has tremendous character, and a lot of great football is ahead of him.

“Chris has performed on the field and in the classroom. If a young man is looking for someone to model after as student athlete, Chris Lawrence is the picture of that person.”

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