Tunall commits to App State

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By Travis Jenkins

Wyatt Tunall says he wasn’t always the biggest and strongest offensive lineman on the field. In fact, at one point he wasn’t a lineman at all.

“When I played flag football I was the quarterback,” the rising Chester High senior said. “I was the only kid who could throw the ball.”

He’ll continue to play on the line for quite a while. Tunall officially committed Tuesday to Appalachian State. He had considered offers from Troy, Central Florida and most of the Sun Belt Conference, but knew he wanted to make Boone, N.C. his college home the first time he visited there.

“I love the coaches, the atmosphere and everything else at App State. I fell in love with the place,” he said.

Tunall had a pre-existing connection to the Mountaineers program in the form of former Chester High teammate Malik Williams. Williams is a rising sophomore wide receiver at Appalachian State but was the starting quarterback for the Cyclones during Tunall’s freshman and sophomore years. Williams basically reinforced everything Tunall was feeling.

“I went out to dinner with him while I was up there. He said it’s an amazing program. Second to none,” Tunall said.

Mountaineers coaches saw a lot to like in Tunall. He has been a starter since the first game of his ninth grade year. He moves very well for a player who stands nearly 6-foot-6 and weighs 272 pounds and he’s collected a number of honors and awards in the past few years. He said coaches also like the intangibles he brings to the field.

“They like my ambition to win and the fact that I work hard. They know I have a heart for the game and I’m willing to do what it takes to win,” Tunall said.

Given the kind of player he has developed into now, it’s hard to believe that Tunall didn’t initially choose offensive lineman as his favorite position and didn’t think of himself as a college prospect at all. He did play quarterback for a short time, but became a lineman by the time he’d moved onto small fry ball. He actually played on the defensive line and once he got to the high school he told coaches that’s where he wanted to play. He still does play on the other side in spots, but he became a full-time offensive lineman out of need.

“I told them I wanted to play defensive line, but they ended up saying they needed me to play guard,” Tunall said. “Once I found out what the offensive line was all about, I loved it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

At the outset, Tunall wasn’t able to win his battles on size and strength alone, so he says he worked hard on technique and fundamentals. Once he grew and got stronger in the weight room, his work ethic, combined with his knowledge of how to play the position made him stand out. Even still, playing beyond high school had never really crossed his mind.

“I would’ve never imagined I’d be playing college football. I was just a kid working on my papa’s farm. I knew I love football, but I never thought about playing it after high school,” he said.

That started to change when he was a sophomore. Tunall said Chester Coach Victor Floyd would introduce him to college coaches that came through. He told Tunall that if he did what he was supposed to and worked hard, those coaches would return specifically to see him.

Chris Dodson is Tunall’s offensive line coach. He called Tunall “conscientious and hard-working” and said he deserves the good things that are now happening to him.

“His development over the past three-and-a-half years is a testament of his character and personality traits. He will be a great player for Appalachian State and represent his family and Chester wonderfully. Most importantly, Wyatt is a great young man and I am honored to have coached him and love him like a son,” Dodson said.

Tunall plans to graduate early from Chester and enroll at Appalachian State in January. He expects to redshirt his freshman year to get bigger and stronger and compete for playing time the following season. In the meantime, he said with all five starters back, Chester’s offensive line wants to be the state’s best and hopes to pave the way to a state championship.