Dalton Enjoying the Process

CLEMMONS, N.C. --- Nowadays, any questions related to favorite schools incites laughter from Jalen Dalton, a four-star prospect from the 2015 class.

"I just get this question so many times from my peers and other people," the 6-foot-6, 228-pound defensive end said. "But I really don't know. I'm just enjoying it."

As if on cue, while Dalton made his way from Titan Stadium to West Forsyth's locker room following Friday night's victory, one of the fans that lined his path yelled out "Go Heels." Immediately following, a "Wolfpack" response came from someone else in the crowd.

"You see what I mean?" Dalton said while looking back.

Though he doesn't claim a leader or any favorite schools, Dalton says UNC is "somewhere up there." Dalton, who has visited UNC more than any other school, cites its coaching staff as the reason.

"Coach [Keith] Gilmore is doing a pretty good job," Dalton said. "And they're doing a pretty good job recruiting wise."

Dalton is following a plan he devised to tackle the recruiting process.

"I'm just going to enjoy [college] games my junior year," Dalton said. "And then the summer before my senior year, I'll take it serious. I'll take my visits and we'll decide from there. I'm just going to keep enjoying the process and making smart decisions and we'll see where we'll go my senior year."

The last four weeks, Dalton has attended UNC vs. Miami in Chapel Hill, NC State vs. UNC in Raleigh, and Wake Forest vs. Florida State in Winston-Salem. The game that left the greatest impression was the Tar Heels' nationally televised Thursday-nighter.

"I was shocked," Dalton said. "The environment was great.

"I left after Carolina kicked the last field goal, because I thought they had it and I had school the next day. After I left, I found out that they didn't finish it out. If they would have finished it out, that would have been great. I guess I took the luck with me. Maybe I'll stay the whole game next time."

Dalton admitted that seeing Kenan Stadium's environment "greatly" affected him.

Dalton's late arrival – due to practice that afternoon – limited his interaction with the Tar Heels' coaching staff. He was able to briefly speak with Gilmore during pregame warm-ups.

"He just said ‘Watch Kareem Martin,'" Dalton said.

Martin ended up recording eight tackles, including four for loss and a sack, against Miami. Dalton was abel to rattle off Martin's performance during a more recent game he attended.

"He had a big game against NC State," Dalton said. "I think he had eight tackles, three tackles for a loss, and a sack or so.

"If that's who [Gilmore] is comparing me to, then I guess I can have a great impact on that program. We'll see."

Dalton, who decides what college game he'll attend the week of, is unsure when he'll return to UNC.

In his first year as a full-time varsity starter, Dalton helped West Forsyth to its best record in nearly two decades. Friday's victory over North Davidson clinched an outright Central Piedmont Conference Championship.

"We stuck together as a team," Dalton said. "We had some former players tell us we wouldn't make it far. They said we'd have a 2-9 season and here we are 10-1 winning the CPC Conference Championship."

Dalton's punt block on Friday night set up what eventually proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

"I realized that they weren't blocking me hard – they just gave me a little nudge," Dalton said. "I realized the punter held the ball much longer. So I just went after it."

Dalton also helped seal the 17-10 victory by recovering North Davidson's onside kick attempt late in the contest.

"I thought they were going to go deep with it, but then I saw it coming to me," Dalton said. "So I had a chance to get some return yards."

West Forsyth, which received the top seed in the NCHSAA 4AA playoff bracket, will host Charlotte Vance on Friday.

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