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College Football: Dorty ready to play at Wake

By David Shaw
Salisbury post
WINSTON-SALEM ó Tristan Dorty doesn’t need to pinch himself.
The former all-county defensive end from West Rowan already knows how fortunate he is to be working himself into the equation Wake Forest.
“I’m just soaking it all in,” Dorty said Saturday, shortly after Wake concluded four weeks of spring football practice with an intra-squad scrimmage. “It’s starting to happen for me. I know people are looking up to me, expecting big things. And I know what I expect of myself. So I’m just going along, trying to make the best of the ride.”
It’s been a smooth one for Dorty, a redshirt freshman who has skipped all the ugly growing pains and blossomed right into something beautiful. Recruited as a linebacker, he’s made a near-seamless switch to defensive end and is listed as second-string behind junior Matt Robinson on the team’s depth chart.
“Changing positions ó that wasn’t that hard,” said Dorty, an all-county sackmaster for West Rowan coach Scott Young in 2005 and 2006. “In high school I was a defensive end, but I always stood up. I was kind of a linebacker on the line.”
That experience will help him adjust this season.
“I’ll stand him up and put him down,” said Wake assistant coach Keith Henry, a two-time All-American for Catawba in the late 1980s. “He’ll be a linebacker-type with his hand in the dirt.”
Dorty’s made quite an impression this spring for the Demon Deacons, who won nine of their last 11 games and captured the Meineke Bowl in December. He’s become as good as he is big ó and he’s beefed up to 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds. Known for his friendly nature off the field and ferocious style on it, Dorty’s been a first-year hit with his coaches and teammates.
“He’s such a strong pass-rusher,” said someone who knows ó Wake tight end Mike Rinfrette. “And he’s tough to block. He’s just as good at D-end as he was at linebacker.”
Offensive tackle Jeff Griffin has also gotten up-close-and-personal with Dorty this spring.
“He’s not a handful yet, but he’s holding his own,” said Griffin, a 300-pound junior. “What I like about him is he’s very aggressive, he’s learning technique and he never takes a play off.”
Defensive coordinator Brad Lambert, the assistant who lured Dorty away from the dusty roads of Woodleaf, indicated the switch was made out of necessity.
“We have some depth at linebacker,” he said. “Our need right now is at defensive end ó and he was a logical choice. He’s had a good spring. He’s picked up our defense. If he keeps going like this, he’s got a chance to really be involved on Saturdays.”
Nothing would please Dorty more.
“I know this season, I’m dressing for a game every Saturday,” he said. “I’d like to win the ACC championship but also attain some personal goals.”
Those would include developing better hand-and-eye technique, increasing his playing time, moving up the depth chart and contributing to the team’s success in any way possible.
“He will,” assured Henry, who calls Dorty “Kill” for an appropriate reason. “He always wants to take someone’s head off. The way he plays the game, the sky’s gonna be the limit for him. I love the kid.”
And the kid truly loves being at Wake Forest.
“There’s nothing better than this,” said Dorty, flashing a 150-watt smile. “Playing football on scholarship at a great school, being surrounded by wonderful people and enjoying life. It’s a hard job, being a student-athlete, with all the school work and responsibility. But I chose this ó and I’m enjoying it.”

Contact David Shaw at dshaw@salisburypost.com.

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