Diego Fernandez has been asked to play a different position during his first season with Capital University’s football program.
Recruited to play center, the 2020 Ceres High School will contribute at guard.
“I’m here to play football at the next level,” said Fernandez, a 5-foot-9 275-pound offensive lineman. “It doesn’t matter what position. I’ll learn the playbook and do what I got to do to get on the field.”
Fernandez and the Crusaders will open the 2020-21 campaign against Wilmington College on March 12.
Capital University was supposed to compete this fall but the season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As of now our season is postponed until the spring,” Fernandez said.
The Crusaders will play a conference-only schedule.
The Ohio Athletic Conference will be split into two divisions, East and West.
The West Division consists of Capital, Heidelberg, Ohio Northern, Otterbein and Wilmington.
The East Division consists of Baldwin Wallace, John Carroll, Marietta, Mount Union and Muskingum.
Each team will play the other four teams over a five-week period with each team receiving a bye.
All games are scheduled on Friday nights at 7 p.m.
On April 16, the top seeds of each division will meet for the OAC Championship.
The No. 2 seeds will also play as well as the No. 3, 4 and 5 seeds.
Fernandez moved to Ohio on Aug. 5.
He practiced for the first time with Capital University on Aug. 10.
Fernandez’s class schedule consists of in-person and online courses.
Only out-of-state students and athletes are allowed to live on campus.
Rigorous safety measures are being followed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“It’s been different because of COVID,” Fernandez said. “You have to wear your masks at all times during workouts. The only time we don’t wear masks is when we’re in helmets and pads. We also get tested for COVID at least once a week.”
“Originally, I was supposed to have a roommate,” he added. “But due to COVID, I have my own room. There’s only half-capacity in every (in-person) class. We have to wear masks. Before and after class, we have to sanitize our hands. We’re trying to do what’s best for everybody. I’m still grateful to be on campus. But it’s not the full experience.”
Fernandez is the first person in his immediate family to attend college.
This is also the first time he’s lived on his own for an extended period of time.
Diego and his older brother were raised by their mother Elizabeth in a single-parent household.
“My mom’s been a huge role model,” he said. “She’s my everything. We have a special relationship. It’s a bond that will never be broken.”
A total of six different schools expressed interest in signing Fernandez after seeing his highlights on Hudl, an online and mobile platform for video sharing.
He signed a national letter of intent with Division-III Capital University in January.
Capital University posted an 0-10 overall record and finished in last place in the OAC standings (0-9) last fall. Eleven players were lost to graduation.
“You feel like you’re starting over as a college freshman,” Fernandez said. “Some of the guys have wives and children. These are grown men you’re competing against. It’s challenging. I’m keeping up with everybody. The goal is for me to get some playing time.”
Fernandez played four seasons of football at Ceres High, including two varsity.
He started at center his senior and junior years.
Fernandez played the position for the first time at the age of nine with the Ceres Jr. Bulldogs.
Fernandez will major in communications at Capital University.
He wants to become a journalist or broadcaster in the sports field.
“Being a first-generation college student, I’m setting an example for other family members,” he said. “It truly is a special feeling.”