NASHVILLE, TN, Feb. 5, 2009- On Wednesday February 4, National signing day, football players across the country signed letters of intent to continue their education and play football on the college level. Pearl-Cohn High School seniors Lamar McLaurin, Jarvis Roberts and Mike Williams Jr., were a part of that special group of players and signed their letters of intent in front of their coaches, administrators and peers in the school's crowded library.
(From L-R) Jarvis Roberts, Mike Williams Jr., and Lamar McLaurin sign their letters of intent on National signing day.
Introduced by Pearl-Cohn head football coach Tony Brunetti, Brunetti echoed the school's and community's sentiment on how proud he was of the student-athletes, how hard work pays off and why he believes the three young men will do great things in years to come.
McLaurin and Williams both chose to play at Bethel College while Roberts accepted an offer to continue his playing career at Lambuth University. All three players were involved with the Play-It-Smart program, of which they concluded was instrumental in aiding them reach their goal of receiving an athletic scholarship.
**Williams, Roberts and McLaurin pose with a Titans "gameball" that was presented to the Play-It-Smart students for their efforts from this year's coat drive at LP Field.**
The mission of the Play-It-Smart program is based on NFL teams partnering with local schools with the idea of using football as an advocate for high school players from disadvantaged communities to enhance their personal and academic skills based on these key goals; improving their grade point averages, increasing the number of students taking the SAT/ACT and improved scores on tests, increasing graduation rate and opportunities for higher education, enhancing life skills development, increasing opportunities for community service and increasing parental and family involvement.
In addition to Pearl –Cohn, East Nashville's Stratford High School also boasts a Play-It-Smart Program with three more Play-It-Smart Schools located in Knoxville: Austin East, Fulton and Knoxville West. Stratford had three Play-It-Smart students sign letters of intent; QB KeMonte Jackson (Lane), return specialist D'Angelo Bohannon (Lane) and SE TeAndre Fisher (Tenn. State) while students from all three Knoxville schools accepted scholarship offers.
For Play-It-Smart academic coach Calvin Peters, who has been at the school for years and has seen the transformation of some of the children's lives by being involved in the program and the tangible differences in the classroom, today was especially special.
"The Play It Smart program helps the students see beyond the high school realm, that college is a viable option, and helps students further and achieve their goals," noted Peters. "The best thing is, for the underclassmen who are in the program and who are seeing their friends and teammates now signing scholarship documents, it let's them know that their goals are attainable."
**The signees with Pearl-Cohn academic coach Calvin Peters. (Third from left).**
"Being involved with Play-It-Smart was such a positive experience for everyone," said Williams who starred on the defensive line for the Firebirds. "In addition to helping us with our academics, it helped us understand the importance of community service and for that I am thankful."
With close to 100 people in attendance, including administrators, students and family, McLaurin, Roberts and Williams spent time after signing their letters of intent visiting, posing for pictures and trying on new hats of their college teams.
"These three young men are really something special," said Brunetti. "We didn't have the best of seasons last year and these guys just kept fighting and were so selfless both on and off the field. That kind of attitude was contagious on our team and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be involved in their lives."
The Play It Smart Program started in four schools in 1998 and has expanded to 140 high schools in 82 cities and 35 states with close to 12,000 student-athletes participating in 2008. This growth is largely due to the significant financial support from Titans Owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, his fellow NFL owners and members of the NFL Players Association.
For more Information on the Play It Smart program, please visit www.playitsmart.org.