GOODY, Ky. - Belfry star offensive lineman Ethan Wolford has decided to end his college recruitment in the summer before he starts his senior year as he verbally committed on a full scholarship to Division II Concord University on Twitter on Sunday evening.
Wolford, who stands at 6'2" and weighs in at 285 pounds, has been the starting center for the Pirates and legendary coach Philip Haywood the past two years and once again will anchor the "Haywood Hogs" in the 2019 season.
He said that he wanted to end his recruitment before the start of the 2019 season so that he could focus on his senior year with the Pirates.
"I wanted to be done with my recruitment before my senior year started, people don't realize how stressful it is," Wolford said in an interview with the WDN office. "I've been going through this recruiting process since 8th grade, just going to camps every summer and not being able to do anything. It's tough. Now I can just focus on getting ready for my senior year and winning another state championship"
Wolford is rated a two-star prospect by 24/7 sports and is ranked the No. 7 lineman in the state of Kentucky regardless of class and the No. 1 center in the class of 2020 by multiple recruiting services.
He has also received offers from Glenville State, UVA-Wise, W.Va. State, Union College, and Bethany College, had a preferred walk-on position at a Conference USA School, and invites to camps at DI schools Morehead State and Tennessee Tech as well as NAIA school Georgetown but ultimately he decided to on Concord.
"They're like family already, they've treated me like family since day one," Wolford said. "I love coach (Nick) Gilbert the offensive line coach, he would call me 2-3 times a week, after school, during school at lunch, and he still texts me every single day. He told me I was their No. 1 recruit for the Class of 2020. No other school has showed me that much attention."
The Mountain Lions are an NCAA DII school in Athens, West Virginia that plays in the Mountain East Conference. They went 2-9 last season but were in the NCAA D II Semifinals as recently as 2015 when they had the best season in school history and finished 13-1.
""I'm glad it's over," Ethan's father Tommy Wolford said regarding his son's recruitment. "He's been doing this since the 8th grade, camps, visits, just anything football related. The kid has never gone to prom as busy as he's been; he's never got to enjoy his summers."
The elder Wolford, who is an E-6 Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, is expected to be deployed to the Middle East in late summer and said it was important for him to get to see his son commit before he left the states.
"I'll be leaving in August for a year more than likely," Tommy Wolford said. "I wanted to be there to see him commit. Now if it wasn't the right fit, I wouldn't have let him do it yet. But Concord is just the perfect fit. He wants to go somewhere where he can play right away and they've already told him they plan to play him right away once he learns the playbook. Why go somewhere where you might sit 2-3 years? He wanted to play. He had multiple offers but none like Concord."
The AP All-State lineman is also a star on the wrestling team at Belfry where he set the school record during his junior season for most wins by a heavyweight wrestler, shattering Austin Gibbs previous mark of 42 wins.
He has a 69-24 record over the past three seasons including a 40-11 mark in his junior season alone. He qualified for the state wrestling meet and ended up ranked No. 13 in the state as he went 2-2 at the state meet.
His goal on the mat his senior season is to surpass 100 wins for his career and be named all-state, which would make him the only athlete in school history to ever be named all-state in both football and wrestling.
On the gridiron, the Pirates return a bevy of playmakers from a team that went 10-3 in 2018 but fell in the Class AAA quarterfinals for the second straight season after claiming state titles from 2013-2016.
When asked the outlook for the 2019 season at Belfry, Wolford's response was short but sweet.
"I want another ring. We're the favorite this year and I believe we'll win it all...I know we will."
Even though he still has a whole year to make up his mind, Wolford has already decided that his major will be Criminology with hopes of landing a job one day in homeland security.
Jarrid McCormick is a sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.