Smithfield High senior Marquis Childress inked a full scholarship on Wednesday to compete in track and field for Hampton University. He is the first men's track recruit for Maurice Pierce, the school's longtime women's coach who became head of the entire HU program this past summer.
"You can't find that many kids who can do the high jump, triple jump and long jump well," Pierce said of Childress. "He covers all the bases.
"He could score points in the MEAC Championships in the triple jump and long jump right now, so he'll be a factor for us right away, and he'll get there in the high jump eventually. You'd think with his results, that he'd be 6-foot-1 or 6-2 tall, but he does what he does at 5-8 because he's so powerful.
"He's a football player, so he brings that football toughness with him."
But Childress, a Group AA All-State kick returner at Smithfield, will not play football at HU - at least not as a freshman. Because all of his scholarship money comes from the track team, Pierce wants Childress to focus solely on track as a freshman.
Should Childress still want to play football after completing his freshman year, Pierce said they will discuss the matter. Childress is a former AA state indoor champion in the long jump, with a best of nearly 23 feet. And, at nearly 48 feet in the triple jump, he is one of the favorites to win gold in the event at the upcoming AA indoor state meet.
"He's a really good kid," Pierce said. "His parents are involved with him and they are involved with their church (Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple in Hampton).