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Highlanders’ Wright is set for the season

August 12, 2018

Huntington High's Darnell Wright (58) attempts to chase down Hurricane ball carrier Christian Hill (28) in a Class AAA football playoff game in 2017 at Bob Sang Stadium in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Darnell Wright, Huntington High’s highly recruited football offensive lineman, doesn’t fit the mold of what might come to mind when someone thinks of the giant men who play the position.

The Highlanders senior doesn’t have the deep, loud voice of Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz. Instead, Wright is quiet, shy and laid back, hiding the intensity he has to show on the football field playing left tackle.

But Wright is headed in the same direction of Munoz who starred at the University of Southern California before being taken third overall by the Bengals in the 1980 NFL Draft. Wright even has Southern Cal on a list of 10 schools he’s likely to choose from, although he remains tight-lipped about where he will actually go.

“Basically, it’ll be wherever I feel like academically what they have can let me build a resume for me by the time I graduate,” Wright said. “Also, the football part of it. Wherever I can go that I can develop my game with whoever has the history.”

Wright said he likely won’t make a decision until National Signing Day. The early National Letter of Intent signing period is Dec. 19-21 and the regular period is Feb. 6-April 1, 2019.

“He’s an incredibly intelligent young man,” Huntington High head coach Billy Seals said. “He’s very analytical and humble beyond belief. He’s under a lot of pressure with the recruiting process but it hasn’t swayed him one bit. He’s a kid. He giggles and laughs.”

Seals said his 6-foot-6, 320-pound star offensive lineman with an 84-inch wingspan is quiet, and does his talking with effort and athletic ability. Those things set him apart from most high school kids.

“He’s the most athletic kid I’ve ever coached,” Huntington High offensive line coach Brandon Cassell said. Cassell has coached for 17 years including all four seasons of Wright’s high school career.

“When we need a pulling left tackle, he gets out there. When we need to block down, he does that. He’s a center on the basketball team, so he’s definitely a guy that can move,” Cassell said.

But off the field, like the superhero Incredible Hulk who transforms into mildmannered Bruce Banner in the comic books, Wright morphs into what can be described as a normal teenager. Instead of spending down time on a phone, though, you are more likely to find Wright’s nose buried in a book.

Wright lists science fiction among his favorite types of books to read with “Ready Player One” his favorite title.

“He’s a quiet guy. He’s an effort guy,” Seals said. “He leads by example. In a testament to what kind of team we have, guys will call him out for one-on-one.”

Wright gets excited talking about the returning players and freshmen on the offensive line as Huntington High prepares for its season opener Aug. 24 at Belfry. Wright wants to win a state championship in his final year in green and gold.

The 2017 squad was top-ranked heading into the Class AAA playoffs before losing 10-7 in the semifinals to Spring Valley at Bob Sang Field. Wright said that loss wasn’t something the Highlanders dwelled on for long.

“It’s not good. We lost. But we take it for what it is,” he said. “We joke about it. You can’t change it.”

DARNELL WRIGHT’S TOP 10

Clemson

Florida State

Miami

North Carolina

Alabama

Georgia

Tennessee

Ohio State

Penn State

Southern Cal

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