Monroe has 10 football signees since 2009
Monroe High is making a habit of football players signing college scholarships.
Since 2009, 10 Redhawks have inked to play at the next level, including three with Division IA schools.
Three more added their names to the list on Wednesday, including quarterback Quay Chambers (Duke), safety/receiver Jermany Hammond (Johnson C. Smith) and cornerback/receiver Lavonte Baker (Elizabeth City State).
The trio made their choices official in front of family, friends, teachers and classmates making up a room of more than 100 people.
“It had been a tradition way back, and now I think with the different kinds of publicity with the newspapers, people talking about it more on Facebook and things like that, we’re getting a good crowd now,” said Monroe coach Johnny Sowell of Wednesday’s ceremony. “We had about 15 kids on that wall and I told them when I invited them to join us that ‘you can have this same day, but you have to take care of the classroom first.’”
Chambers became the third Redhawk to sign with the Blue Devils since 2010. Monroe graduates Issac Blakeney (2010) and Jamison Crowder (2011) are currently on Duke’s roster.
Blakeney and Crowder helped the Blue Devils qualify for a Bowl Game for the first time since 1994.
“It was a big decision,” said Chambers of choosing the Blue Devils. “Talking to them (Crowder, Blakeney) it made me realize what I can accomplish not just athletic-wise, but academic-wise.”
Chambers was a first-team all-Union County selection in 2012 after guiding Monroe to an 11-4 record and a trip to the 1AA state semifinals.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder threw for 1,520 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while running for 1,105 yards and seven scores.
“Quay is going to be an offensive player at the next level,” said Sowell. “Right now he’s a quarterback, but if that doesn’t work out he can be a receiver as well.”
Chambers has had plenty of athletic success since his freshman year, when he was a starter on Monroe’s state championship basketball team. He’s also been the starting quarterback on the football team the last two seasons after suffering a broken ankle during his sophomore year.
The Redhawks have won the Rocky River Conference title each of the last two years with Chambers under center.
“Quay’s meant a lot to us,” said Sowell. “When he came in as a freshman we knew he had a lot of talent. He had a little downfall when he tore his ankle up, but he was able to recover from that and actually came back and accomplished a lot.”
Chambers gives a lot of the credit to Sowell.
“I’ve been successful ever since I walked on campus,” said Chambers. “Coach Sowell has been a great coach and he’s always helped me work towards the goals I set for myself. With him being by my side and supporting me, it’s been a great success.”
Sowell believes Baker’s and Hammond’s versatility on the field will help them at the next level.
“LB and Jermany are a little different because they play both sides of the ball,” said Sowell. “They can play offense, defense and special teams, and they both have experience in all three areas. In terms of Jermany’s special teams abilities, he can punt the ball and he’s proved he can block the punts and kicks.”
Hammond was named The Enquirer-Journal’s Defensive Player of the Year this past season after a state-best 10 interceptions and 22 blocked kicks.
Hammond is joining a Johnson C. Smith program that finished 6-4 in 2012. He expects to play safety for the Golden Bulls, who are a member of the CIAA (Division 2).
“I wanted to continue to play football and see how college life is,” said Hammond. “It’s a small school, but they’re like a family. They’ll help you when you need help and they’ll take care of you.”
Baker, who said he will play slot receiver in college, caught 17 passes for 303 yards and six touchdowns during his senior season. He also recorded 37 tackles and an interception.
Elizabeth City State went 8-4 in 2012.
“I like the atmosphere,” said Baker of ECSU. “I went up there and just loved it. Plus a lot of my teammates are playing there, too.”
Monroe High football signees since 2009
2009: Donnard Covington (Fayetteville State), Shamiir Hailey (Fayetteville State)
2010: Issac Blakeney (Duke)
2011: Jamison Crowder (Duke), Jalen Sowell (Fayetteville State), Ricardo White (Fayetteville State)
2012: Mason Sledge (Charlotte)
2013: Quay Chambers (Duke), Jermany Hammond (Johnson C. Smith), Lavonte Baker (Elizabeth City State)