At 6-feet-8, 318 pounds, Devin Dashnaw has always been a big man on the Willow Canyon High School campus.
This month, he grew even more in stature.
Dashnaw signed a letter-of-intent to play at the University of Texas-El Paso, making him the first football player in school history to make the jump directly from the prep ranks to a Division 1 program.
“It’s been fun to watch Devin grow as a football player and a person,” said Mike Hudnutt, Willow Canyon football coach. “His work ethic raised the level of play for everyone around him.”
Dashnaw was one of two Willow Canyon student-athletes signing earlier this month on National Signing Day, the first day Class of 2010 high school recruits can sign binding letters of intent with college programs.
Arianna Romero signed to play soccer at the University of Nebraska.
Dashnaw said he selected UTEP because the Miners were the only Division 1 school to recruit him. Several junior colleges made offers to the New York native.
“I participated in their one-day camp this summer and came away impressed with everything down there,” said Dashnaw, who played left tackle for the Wildcats. “It’s like living in Tucson.”
Dashnaw said he expects to be a football greyshirt when he arrives on campus in the fall.
That means he will not be able to practice or play with the Miners when he enrolls at school. Dashnaw will have access to the team’s weight room, but will be prohibited from using it during team functions.
Dashnaw will not officially go on scholarship until January 2011.
“I’ll be in school and taking classes, so it will be a good time for me to adjust to college life.”
Dashnaw’s resume already comes with impressive credentials.
The Surprise resident helped the Wildcats set a school record with 3,000 rushing yards last season.
“I am a good run blocker and have pretty good speed for my size,” Dashnaw said. “One thing I need to work on is my pass blocking.”
Dashnaw benefited from the tutelage of Hudnutt, a former offensive lineman at Northern Iowa.
“We use a lot of the same techniques and terminologies that they use in college,” Hudnutt said. “Even after he signs, I’ll continue to work on things with Devin, such as his footwork.”
Romero said she chose Nebraska because of the small-town feel and camaraderie among players when she visited the Lincoln campus.
Nebraska has been interested in me since I was a sophomore,” said the 17-year-old Romero, who was wearing a Nebraska hoodie at school on Monday. “I had other offers, but I felt comfortable at Nebraska.”
Romero didn’t play varsity soccer at Willow Canyon, opting to play club soccer exclusively with Sereno.
“I have to travel five days a week to Scottsdale, so it has been quite a commitment for my family and myself,” said Romero, who expects to play right back with the Cornhuskers. “I thought about playing high school soccer and wondered if I made the right decision.
“This (signing) makes it all worthwhile.”