Tyler commits to Friedgen, Terps

Published 10:52 am Monday, August 9, 2010

AHOSKIE – Dontez Tyler will be living his dream – just not where he had originally planned.

The rising senior at Hertford County High School grew up a fan of the Atlantic Coast Conference and especially the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

While Tyler will live the dream of playing in the ACC, he will be doing it in College Park, Maryland.

“I wanted to play in the ACC, no matter if it was basketball or football,” Tyler said after committing to the University of Maryland.

While admitting it would be strange to line up against the team he’s backed his whole life, Tyler said it was part of football.

“I’ve been a Carolina fan my whole life, so it’s going to be weird, but we’re still going out there to win,” Tyler said. “I’m a Terrapin now.”

The decision to choose Maryland was one that Tyler didn’t anticipate making. In fact, when he received the offer early in June, he wasn’t interested in the school.

“When I first received the offer, I didn’t have a lot of interest, but as time went by I started getting more and more interested,” he said. “They were the school that showed me the most interest.”

Tyler, a defensive end who was chosen to the All-Roanoke-Chowan team during his junior year, was also being sought by West Virginia University, East Carolina University, the University of Virginia and Arkansas University.

After a visit Tyler made with his family to College Park, he was sure the Terrapins and Head Football Coach Ralph Friedgen were what he was looking for.

“It was wonderful,” Tyler said of the trip. “I liked the academic program and the environment.”

As for the coach, Tyler called said he was excited about learning under him.

“I really liked Coach Friedgen,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing for him.”

Tyler said one of the reasons he decided to commit early was the advice of Hertford County High School Head Football Coach Scott Privott.

“Coach Privott wanted me to take advantage of my scholarship offers,” Tyler said. “I decided it was a good idea.”

Privott said Tyler made a wise decision.

“If you’re a five-star guy, you can wait until National Signing Day,” Privott said. “When you’re a three-star guy like Dontez, you have to go ahead and make up your mind to go where you want before someone else at your same level takes that spot.”

The coach said he believed Tyler was going to be an excellent fit at Maryland.

“He will shore up some of the defensive line problems they’ve had,” Privott said. “They needed a pass rushing defensive end and someone who makes plays on the edge. They were excited about him.”

Privott said that from the time Maryland received the film, they began calling him to talk about Tyler.

The visit to College Park was critical, the coach said.

“He and his family went, saw the campus and like it,” Privott said. “I think his parents felt comfortable with the proximity and the way they felt about the coaching staff eased the situation.”

Tyler’s signing to play football at Maryland was something he would have never guessed early in his high school career.

“I was a basketball man until my tenth grade year,” Tyler said. “When I moved up to varsity football and started getting mail from all these colleges, I just changed over. I realized I wasn’t going to get a scholarship in basketball, so I focused on football.”

While he was constantly getting mail from schools interested in his services, Tyler drew little interest from in-state schools other than ECU.

“He didn’t get a lot of attention from the ACC schools in the state,” Privott said. “He had set a goal to play football in the ACC and Maryland was a great opportunity for him to do that.”

Now that the decision is behind him, Tyler can focus on the upcoming season at HCHS.

“I think he can relax,” Privott said. “He can prepare himself academically for what he’ll face when he gets to Maryland.”

Tyler agreed.

“I can focus on the coming year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing a lot of winning at Hertford County before I leave.”