It's hard to imagine a 6-foot-8, 255-pound athlete disappearing. But for almost three long years, that's what happened to Wayne Dorsey, a former Southwestern High football and basketball star.
"The road that he took was just so long and so frustrating for him," said Vernon Joines, Dorsey's football coach at Southwestern. "The frustration built up watching all his friends, like Malcolm, Sean, all these guys he played basketball with. [Loyola junior shooting guard] Jamal Barney is one of his closest friends. All of these guys were in school ... and it was like he disappeared. A lot of people wanted to know where he was. ... But now people know who Wayne Dorsey is and where he's been. [There were times when] he was mentally struggling, but now, all of that's gone."
Dorsey, Scout.com's No. 1 junior college recruit in the country, is now poised to make a name for himself in college. The defensive end committed to Ole Miss on Sunday night, picking the Rebels over offers from Auburn, Florida State, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, South Florida and several others.
"It's a beautiful place," Dorsey said. "The coaches made it feel like home and made me real comfortable with my decision."
Dorsey missed the NCAA qualifying standards coming out of high school. He eventually enrolled at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., to take care of his academics. Soon after, he committed to Minnesota. But as Signing Day approached that February, it became clear that Dorsey would need to make other plans.
"I wasn't going to get through the [NCAA] clearinghouse, and [the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College coaches] said that if I wanted to come in and work ... I would have many options," Dorsey said. "But my first thoughts were, 'Mississippi? I'm born and raised in West Baltimore. I'm not going all the way to Mississippi.' But everything worked out for the best."
Dorsey has teamed with former City lineman James Carmon these past two years to help MGCCC to consecutive Top 10 national rankings. Carmon, a 6-foot-7, 365-pound defensive tackle, committed to Mississippi State earlier this month.
"Last night he came in and was talking about the Egg Bowl this year and how he can't wait for it next year," Dorsey said. "I think [the rivalry] has already started. Since I've been seeing him, I've been telling him 'Hotty Toddy' (Ole Miss' fight song) and he'll say 'Don't say that to me.' But no matter what, we're going to be close because of this experience. The rivalry's not going to break the bond that we have."
Landing Dorsey and Carmon was an unlikely boon for Gulf Coast coach Steve Campbell, who has a limited number of scholarships to offer to non-Mississippi residents.
"We don't sign out-of-state players unless they are that caliber," Campbell said. "[Dorsey] was thin when he came in and he hadn't been in the weight room. But you could see the body type was there and the athletic ability was there. ... Wayne's a great player. We had [Alabama senior defensive tackle] Terrence Cody, who was up for the Outland and Lombardi awards. He was our guy. And Wayne should follow in those footsteps. He's got the ability."
During Dorsey's time at Southwestern, basketball was king and football somewhat of an afterthought. The Sabers competed for city titles on the hardwood and battled for .500 records on the gridiron. Terry Leverett, Dorsey's basketball coach at Southwestern, recalled a player that oozed high-major college basketball potential.
"He was pretty athletic, he could jump pretty well and he was pretty strong," Leverett said. "He wasn't a little skinny guy. Wayne had the right size for college basketball. I just remember the last high school game he played, down in College Park. We were playing Eleanor Roosevelt in the semifinals of the state tournament at Comcast Center. I just remember him stomping through the lane and dunking on everybody. So I just kind of figured he was going to play basketball."
Leverett wasn't the only one who thought Dorsey had a future on the hardwood. A second-team Baltimore Sun All-Baltimore City selection in 2006, Dorsey averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds per game as a senior. During the summer he suited up for Team Melo on the AAU circuit.
Maryland, Pittsburgh and Robert Morris expressed interest in Dorsey for basketball, said Joines — a former Cleveland Browns wide receiver and four-year Terps standout.
After a brief stint at Progressive Christian Academy in Prince George's County, Dorsey called Joines to tell him he wanted to play football. Joines and Wayne Dorsey Sr., called the Milford Academy coaches, and the next thing Dorsey knew, he was headed to New Berlin. The journey from Southwestern to Milford Academy to Mississippi Gulf Coast to Ole Miss had finally begun.
Dorsey will graduate with an associate's degree this month and enroll at Ole Miss in January. He plans on studying sports administration and competing for playing time immediately. After three long — and at times complicated — post-high school years, Dorsey said he's ready for college.
"[Coming out] from Southwestern, I could have never envisioned this," Dorsey said. "Going to junior college and now being able to play in the SEC, I could have never envisioned it. But everything has worked out exactly the way I wanted it to. ... I'm excited for the opportunity."