Diego Fernandez will be the first person in his immediate family to attend college when he moves to Ohio this fall.
The Ceres High senior earned a football scholarship to Capital University.
It will mark the first time Fernandez leaves home for an extended period of time.
Diego and his older brother were raised by their mother Elizabeth in a single-parent household.
“I wish I knew my dad, but at the end of the day, my mom and other family members showed they cared,” he said. “Those are the people I’m grateful for. My mom’s been a huge role model. 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 5-foot-9 255-pound Fernandez after seeing his highlights on Hudl, an online and mobile platform for video sharing
Fernandez narrowed his college choices to two—Capital University and St. Thomas University.
He visited both campuses before committing to Capital.
“It was overwhelming at first,” Fernandez said while talking about the recruiting process. “I did the research and picked the school I felt was best for me. When I visited Capital, I met my coaches and teammates. They were very welcoming. It felt like a family. It’s going to be a great environment to be in inside and outside of football.”
Surrounded by his mom, brother, grandpa, grandma, uncles and aunts at home, Fernandez signed a national letter of intent with the NCAA Division-III school in January.
“I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my family. They always told me college was super important and it would get be a better future. It’s a dream come true.”Diego Fernandez
“I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my family,” Fernandez said. “They always told me college was super important and it would get be a better future. It’s a dream come true. It shows my hard work in school and football paid off.”
Capital University compiled an 0-10 overall record and finished in last place in the Ohio Athletic Conference (0-9) last fall. Eleven players were lost to graduation.
“It’s a new challenge,” Fernandez said. “Everyone is faster and stronger. I have to get adjusted to that and play my best ball. I’ll learn the new system my first year.”
Fernandez played four seasons of football at Ceres High, including two varsity.
“They (coaches Matt Chachere and Darrell Long) helped me out during my football career,” he said. “They taught me you can make the best out of any situation and still be successful.”
Fernandez started at center his senior and junior years.
He played the position for the first time at the youth level with the Ceres Jr. Bulldogs.
“I’ve been playing football since I was nine years old,” he said. “It’s a game I grew to love. It’s kind of like chess. You have to outsmart your opponent, not only mentally but physically.”
“I’ve played other positions,” Fernandez added. “They’re not as challenging as center. You have to not only do your job but make sure everything’s going right. Being a lineman, you have to be humble. You’re playing for the love of the game and not glory. You don’t get any (individual) credit.”
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.”