Johnson signs to play for Hampton

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

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Southampton High School senior student-athlete Javen Johnson punctuated his outstanding football career with the Indians by signing to attend and play football for Hampton University during a Dec. 15 ceremony at the high school that included family, friends, teammates, faculty and staff.

Johnson, who has been a gridiron star for Southampton on the defensive and offensive lines, shared some thoughts during the event after having signed on the dotted line.

“First, I want to thank God for everything great that this ceremony represents and thank all of you for attending today,” he said. “It means a lot to me.

“To my parents, thank you for always believing in me, for always making sure I have everything I need to be a successful young man,” he continued. “I also want to thank all my coaches and teammates I’ve had over the years for pushing me to be the best athlete I can be and teaching me valuable life lessons along the way. I will represent y’all the best way I know how.”

Johnson next focused his comments on Hampton and its football program.

“To (Pirates Head) Coach (Robert) Prunty and Hampton University, thank you for this opportunity to play football and get a college education,” he said.

Southampton Varsity Football Head Coach Travis Parker emceed the signing ceremony and opened it with words that set the tone for the event.

“It is a special day because it’s not every day that a high school student gets a commitment from a university for over $200,000 to earn a college degree in exchange for that student doing what he or she loves to do, and in this case, it’s football for four to five years,” Parker said. “It is special because we, Southampton, are excited because we know we are sending Hampton University one of our best, not only in football but one of our best citizens of Southampton County.”

Parker noted that previous Southampton standouts have gone on to do great things and have set the bar high for Johnson.

“However, we know that Javen will meet and in some instances exceed that high bar for making himself, his family, his school, his community and — last but not least — God very proud,” the coach said.

SHS Interim Principal Dr. MeChelle S. Blunt said the school and its leadership is quite proud of Johnson and that they know that he will make Southampton proud.

“One word of wisdom to you: You are a scholar first and an athlete second,” she said.

Tim Mason, athletic director at SHS, also noted that he was very proud of Johnson and echoed Blunt’s comment about being a scholar first, highlighting how Johnson is a success in both the academic and athletic arenas.

Southampton County Public Schools Superintendent Gwendolyn P. Shannon told Johnson he beat the odds, stating that many would like to be in his position but do not make it there for a variety of reasons.

She emphasized that the university Johnson will be going to is a prestigious one.

Shannon also commented on the growth Johnson has shown during his time in the Southampton County school system.

“I have been with you since you were about eighth grade, I believe, and I have had an opportunity to watch you grow, not only in football but in basketball as well, and that is phenomenal to be able to play two sports very well, so I’m extremely proud of you,” she said.

She also thanked Johnson’s parents for all that they have poured into their son.

Right before Johnson actually signed on the dotted line, Southampton County School Board member Greg Scott spoke. Scott, who has served as an assistant football coach at Southampton, is a former Southampton and Hampton student-athlete and a former NFL player.

“I can say I’ve been in your footsteps; it is a wonderful feeling,” Scott said to Johnson.

He then led an applause for Johnson’s parents and the job they have done in raising a fine young man.

“I remember being able to go home and tell my mom and dad, ‘Hey, I’m going to go to college to play football; all you’ve got to do is come to the game and cheer,’” Scott told Johnson. “You now get to share that same feeling with your parents, and I know that is a wonderful feeling because as Dr. Shannon said, you did beat the odds.”

Noting that Johnson was a leader on the SHS football team, displaying this quality every night he stepped onto the field, Scott encouraged him to continue to make Southampton proud and to do great things at Hampton.

Johnson concluded his own comments during the ceremony by saying, “Southampton faculty and staff, I am also grateful for you pouring into me all these things I need to have a successful future. I will always remember that I am Southampton so I will not disappoint you. God bless.”