National Signing Day — Capital’s Dorian Etheridge signs with Louisville

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Capital’s Dorian Etheridge (17) celebrates a defensive stop against South Charleston in a 2016 contest. Etheridge signed to play football with Louisville on Wednesday.

Dorian Etheridge is a man of his word.

Capital’s senior linebacker decided last summer that Louisville was the place for him, and despite some recruiting services thinking he might change his mind, Etheridge stuck to his word on Wednesday, selecting Louisville during National Signing Day.

A brief ceremony took place at Capital High School during the lunch hour Wednesday, with Etheridge flanked by his parents, Steven and Blanche Dawkins. A few dozen Capital students were also in attendance.

The 6-foot-3, 228-pound Etheridge said he never wavered in his decision and faxed his official letter of intent to Louisville before 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

“Never,” he said. “I was definitely set. Recently, I took my official visit, and that just sealed everything. It was just that feeling. Sometimes you don’t get that feeling every place, but going there I just felt love instantly.

“I didn’t commit right away. I gave it a few times to see if I change how I feel, but every time it just got better and better.’’

Etheridge was one of eight high school players around West Virginia to sign with major-college football programs on Wednesday, with three of them going to West Virginia University — South Charleston defensive back Derrek Pitts, Morgantown linebacker Maverick Wolfley and Fairmont Senior defensive end Darius Stills.

Capital coach Jon Carpenter said Etheridge, a four-year starter who played in the Class AAA state semifinals every year, is a one-of-a-kind athlete.

“Obviously, he’s a great football player,’’ Carpenter said. “But the thing that’s kind of crazy when you think about it is that he’s everything you’d want a kid to be. Good grades, good work [ethic] — I can’t ever remember him missing a practice. I can’t ever remember a teacher saying anything about him.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of coaching at Capital High School or at Notre Dame. They’re kids; they’re going to mess up. But I can’t think of any time — and I’ve been trying to remember all morning — I can’t think of any time he’s screwed up here. And it’s weird. He’s rare.’’

Further proof of Etheridge’s commitment: He remains on the school’s basketball team, despite all the hoopla surrounding his football recruiting and his future plans at Louisville. At least two other Capital basketball players the past two seasons quit to focus on their football careers, but not Etheridge, who remains a key player on the state’s No. 1-ranked team.

“Our coaches all encourage us to play, ’cause you know if I don’t, I’m going to be 250 [pounds] by the time I get out of here,” Etheridge said. “ They like us to stay in shape ... because they don’t want us to get to camp out of shape. Plus, we’re going to win a state championship [in basketball].’’

At Louisville, Etheridge will work out alongside quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

“Funny story there,’’ Etheridge said. “Last year, my first time going there — before he even started at quarterback — I was talking to the coach and I ended up meeting [Jackson], but I didn’t know who he was. But the next year when I go there it’s, hey, I know that guy.’’

Other major college signees Wednesday around the state included Huntington lineman Billy Ross (North Carolina), Point Pleasant lineman Seth Stewart (LSU), Spring Valley lineman Riley Locklear (Tennessee) and Tucker County lineman Eddie Kachmarek (Robert Morris).

Among those signing as preferred walk-ons was South Charleston’s Lawrence “Nunu’’ Cunningham, who will join Pitts at WVU.

“Real special [to go with Pitts],’’ Cunningham said. “That’s like my brother. We’ve been playing together since we were 6 or 7 years old. It’s a dream come true. I’ve wanted to be a Mountaineer since I was a little kid; it’s always been a dream of mine. So once I got that offer, I knew what time it was.”

Daniel Buchanan, a defensive lineman from Class AA champion Mingo Central who had five scholarship offers, opted to accept a preferred walk-on opportunity at WVU.

Ryan Pritt contributed to this report. Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

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