For as long as he can remember, Dylan Lucas had played football with the goal of one day getting the opportunity to play at the college level.
He took another major step forward in turning that into a reality Wednesday when he signed his national letter of intent to play at West Virginia State.
“I’ve wanted this day to come for a long time now and I’m just ready to start getting to work and doing what I have to so I can be successful there,” Lucas said after signing in front of a crowd of friends and family in the auditorium at Buffalo High School.
“My focus now is on putting in the work I need to so that I can jump right in and make the transition and try to earn my place on the field as quickly as I can.”
Lucas was one of 18 signees to fax in their letters to WVSU as a part of the first signing class for new head coach John Pennington. Last year’s Curt Warner Award winner, an award that recognizes the top running back in the state of West Virginia, Lucas leaves behind a strong legacy at Buffalo in which he ran for 4,451 yards in the last two seasons and scored 80 touchdowns.
He ran for 2,465 yards and scored 43 total touchdowns in 2016 and tied Warner’s state record for most points scored in a single season. Lucas is proud of the fact that he now will get a chance to stay close to home and help Pennington build a winning product with the Yellow Jackets.
Both West Virginia State and Charleston signed several in-state players on Wednesday.
Joining Lucas at WVSU will be Hurricane offensive lineman Matthew Lindmark, Herbert Hoover fullback Brody Thomas and South Charleston defensive lineman Nate Parrish, while Charleston brought in seven West Virginia players — including the Spring Valley trio of Brock Adkins, Skylar Larcart and Kaleb Hardin, George Washington offensive lineman Zack Kerns, Scott linebacker Nathan Ramsey and running back Garrett Roberts, Wyoming East defensive lineman Joel Cannday and Lincoln offensive lineman Hunter McGary.
“The first thing we do when we recruit is look in our back yard first and every coach on our staff has an area of the state they recruit so that we can have the whole state covered,” UC coach Pat Kirkland said. “We want to recruit West Virginia first, and especially the city of Charleston and the surrounding areas. That’s always been an important part of our program.”
Those seven in-state players were just the start of a busy day for Kirkland and the Golden Eagles. UC announced the addition of more than 40 players to its program, a class that brought in players from a total of eight states. For Kirkland, the important factor was bringing in some players able to compete right away for playing time while also building the kind of depth the Golden Eagles need to continue improving over the next few seasons.
“We did a better job getting some midyear guys who can contribute and we had some guys get medical redshirts and will be back, so our goal was to build up our depth as much as possible,” Kirkland said. “We wanted to do that and then find guys who can come in and give us help in some positions where we needed it.”
For Pennington and his new staff at West Virginia State, Wednesday represented just the beginning of what they believe will be a busy stretch leading up to the start of next season as they continue to build their program.
The Yellow Jackets added 18 players on Wednesday, spending much of their focus during the last few months looking for players who were dedicated to helping the program as much as possible.
“We feel like we’re in a good position to keep building and keep bringing guys in who have great talent,” Pennington said. “Our goal was to find guys who had pride in this program and wanted to be Yellow Jackets and love the game of football. Looking at the guys we’ve brought in so far, I think we’ve done a nice job of that.”