WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County senior Dante Shuler made his college choice official on Tuesday morning, signing with Averett University.
Shuler, who played just five varsity football games, was outstanding in his limited playing time with 19 catches for 527 yards and nine touchdowns. Shuler’s season came to an abrupt end with a broken collarbone suffered against West Wilkes.
The previous two seasons, Shuler was a key member of the varsity soccer team, helping Ashe to a the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference Championship in 2014 and a second place finish in 2015.
Shuler said the two main schools he considered were Averett University and Emory & Henry College.
“When I went there, it seemed like family right off the bat. The Averett coaches came up to me and told me about who they were and what they were about,” Shuler said.
Shuler said the school was in a smaller town that felt a lot like Ashe.
“It felt like home. They already made me feel like part of the family before I signed,” Shuler added. “The coaches already knew who I was before I knew any of them. I’d get texts every day and they’d talk to me about how they liked having me on my visits and liked watching my film. It was a cool experience to have that.”
Shuler is planning on majoring in physical education and hopes to turn that into a coaching career somewhere in the future.
While his impact was only felt for a handful of games, Ashe County head coach Brian Hampton saw right off how big of a weapon he could be.
“Through four and a half games, he had nine touchdowns, that pretty much says it all,” said Hampton. “He stepped in his first game against Hibriten and scored a touchdown on the second drive he played in. He had a big game at Alexander Central and was really starting to get in a groove when we played against Alleghany, he had three or four touchdowns that night.”
Shuler will be expected to become a key weapon for that Averett offense.
“He’s a big, strong, physical, athletic young man. He played football as a freshman, then he was a great soccer player for two years. He’s really a baby as far as football players, his best years are ahead of him. Averett is getting a great athlete and a quality young man,” Hampton said.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.