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William Colbert could become a hero on the football field for the East Central University Tigers.

But first he became a hero on the lake during the Independence Day weekend.

Colbert, a sophomore-to-be and defensive back for ECU, helped save the life of a 7-year-old girl from drowning at Gladewater Lake, just about 10 minutes away from his home in Kilgore, Texas.

Colbert, 19, learned from his younger brother Billy that a young girl, Serenity Johnson, was in distress. William, who was on shore sitting at a picnic table, quickly flung off his shirt, emptied his pockets and swam about 45-50 feet off shore to Johnson, who was three or four feet inside the swimming area surrounded by buoys.

“Once I got to her, I grabbed her. Then holding her with my left arm, I swam with my right arm back to shore,” Colbert said.

From there, Johnson’s stepfather performed CPR.

“My thought was to get to the girl and get her back to shore so CPR could be done on her,” said Colbert, who admitted that much thought didn’t take place but reaction to the situation. “I feel real good. I’m glad I was there. I never thought I would be in a situation like this. It came so quick and my reaction was to go out there and get her.”

Colbert says he learned to swim around the age of 4.

At last report, Johnson is at home and doing fine.

Colbert played sparingly as a freshman for the Tiger football squad in 2015, finishing with three total tackles and a pair of pass breakups in nine games. But expectations are for much playing time in 2016.

He worked with the first team in spring drills at cornerback.

“I think I’ll be able to contribute to the team,” Colbert said.

For Tiger players, coaches and supporters, there is hope that Colbert’s contributions can provide even more heroics on the gridiron as well.

“We’re proud of him and glad he was in the right place at the right time,” said Chad Roark, ECU defensive coordinator.



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