College-bound

Warren County football players Malik Hargrove (left) and Deaven Hawkins (right) stand with head coach V.J. Hunt after the two signed their letters of intent to continue their careers at Greensboro College during a special ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.

WARRENTON — Two of Warren County High School’s football standouts, Malik Hargrove and Deaven Hawkins, signed their letters of intent to play for Greensboro College during a special ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.

Hargrove, who also served as a receiver and a safety during his time at Warren County, is looking forward to continuing his football career at the collegiate level, but is also thrilled that he gets to stay in his home state and compete alongside Hawkins.

“It feels really great to commit to Greensboro,” Hargrove said. “I’m still going to be in North Carolina and I still get to see my family, but it feels really good that I still get to play football in this state.”

Although Hargrove enjoyed playing basketball at a young age, his father was impressed by the speed his son possessed and encouraged him to transition to football, which he began playing at the age of 12.

When Hargrove joined Warren County’s varsity program, he initially took a majority of his snaps on defense, but he became more involved with the team’s offense during his junior year and split time in the backfield with senior Dekarri Green.

All three of Hargrove’s rushing touchdowns that year came in a 52-24 victory against KIPP Pride on Aug. 24, 2018. He improved upon that total in the 2019-20 season with seven total rushing touchdowns, and finished his career with 10 total touchdowns and 730 rushing yards.

Hargrove said that he will always cherish the comradery he shared with Hawkins and the rest of his Warren County teammates during his time with the program, which he said remained resilient through years that were marred by adversity.

“We built a lot of chemistry up here,” Hargrove said. “This whole team is like a family. Regardless of whether or not we won or lost, we stayed together and that bond never broke.”

With Hargrove being instrumental in moving the ball on the ground for Warren County. Hawkins fulfilled several roles for the team during his career, which included taking snaps as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, a defensive back and a kick returner.

Hawkins has constantly received advice about fine-tuning his on-field performance since his childhood, and credits that motivation for molding himself into a player that can handle responsibilities in any given situation.

“I’ve loved this sport since I was young,” Hawkins said. “I stayed with my cousins a whole lot and they always pushed me to play football. They’re the ones who made me want to do this.”

Hawkins’ senior year was his most productive for Warren County, as he led the team in both passing and rushing yards with 709 and 746 respectively. He threw for six touchdowns and rushed for eight more, while also tallying three more as a receiver.

On defense, Hawkins racked up 26 solo tackles, deflected four passes and intercepted one ball to end his Warren County career with 81 total tackles, four interceptions, six forced fumbles and a sack.

Warren County head coach V.J. Hunt praised Hargrove and Hawkins for their commitment to improving themselves both on the field and inside the classroom, and is confident that both of them will continue to dedicate themselves once they arrive at Greensboro College.

“I couldn’t be happier for these two young men,” Hunt said. “They’ve worked extremely hard, and even though I was only their head coach for one season, I’ve seen both of them grow tremendously. I’m very excited for Malik and Deaven, and I am here to support them in whatever they need.”

Once their high school careers ended, Hargrove and Hawkins decided to attend the AHOP Christian Leadership Academy in Carrboro to boost their grades and participate in football over the summer. They helped lead the school’s football program to a state championship.

Hawkins said that his time at AHOP benefited him from an academic standpoint, but also helped him boost his on-field chemistry with Hargrove, which he believes will continue to grow once they take part in their first collegiate practice.

“Greensboro just felt like home,” Hawkins said. “There were a lot of options we were considering, including one that would have had both of us going to Massachusetts, but we were glad that Greensboro was there to help us out, and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Hargrove and Hawkins will be coming to a program that finished 1-9 during the 2019 season, but both have dealt with adversity before and are ready to play their roles in rebuilding Greensboro’s football team over the next several years.

“I definitely want to become a freshman All-American,” Hargrove said. “At the same time, I want to help my teammates and build good chemistry with [head coach Tyler Card].”

Both Hargrove and Hawkins want to stay close to sports in case a football career does not work out for them. Hargrove intends to major in sports medicine at Greensboro, while Hawkins has expressed a desire to become an athletic trainer.