Joey White for

MATEWAN, W.Va. – With high school graduation around the corner, Mingo Central senior defensive end/tight end Daniel Buchanan has his sights now set on joining the WVU football program in the fall.

The standout athlete, and part of Class AA state champion Mingo Central, accepted a preferred walk-on position from WVU on National Signing Day in February.

“It’s just an honor for me to put on the blue and gold and play for the Mountaineers,” said Buchanan. “It’s been a dream since I was young, and I wanted to fulfill that dream.”

Buchanan, 6-6, 255-pounds, had scholarship offers from smaller Division I programs like Toledo and UCF, but never felt secure enough to decide on his football future.

“I was actually going to commit to somewhere else earlier this season, and I fooled around and waited too long and the spot filled up,” said Buchanan. “I didn’t have a place that I really wanted to go. I had five full rides, but I didn’t have a place that I felt like I would fit in and enjoy.”

It was a visit from WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson that finally gave Buchanan the home he was looking for.

“Something I really learned about through the recruiting process is that it’s all about the right fit,” said Buchanan. “Coach Gibson came to the school and talked to me, and I felt a good vibe from Coach.”

That vibe led to WVU offering Buchanan a role as a preferred walk-on for the 2017 season. Buchanan will be one of 16 invited walk-ons to join the Mountaineers — and one of 12 from the state of West Virginia.

“I’m just thankful for what they did for me, and that they actually came to me and told me that they wanted me to be on the team,” said Buchanan. “It means a lot to me, and for me to have the opportunity, I just have to capitalize on it.”

As for where he’ll line up on the field, Buchanan hopes he’ll have the opportunity to play under Gibson on the defensive side of the ball.

“I love getting to the quarterback, but when it comes down to it, I’ll play anywhere that’s the best fit for me,” said Buchanan. “Wherever they think is the best place for me to play I’ll play. I’ll try out anything.”

Last season, Buchanan’s Miners dominated Class AA, boasting an undefeated record and a 32-7 victory over Fairmont Senior in the state championship.

“That right there shows how much our program is starting to grow, and what type of players we’re developing in southern West Virginia,” said Buchanan. “In a place that’s often overlooked, and I think we’re actually building a really big program down there.

Even though he’s heading up to Morgantown next fall, Buchanan won’t forget his roots at Mingo Central.

“I’m definitely going to stay a part of it,” said Buchanan. “I’m not one of those guys that’s going to graduate and not worry about Mingo Central any more. I’ll always be a Miner.”

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