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A love outside of football: Senior’s first love was the hardwood

October 22, 2015

 

Vontarrius Dora (8) attempts to tackle Kansas State running back Justin Silmon (32) during the Bulldog’s triple OT loss in Manhatten, Kansas on Sept. 19–Photo Courtesy of Athletic Communications

Vontarrius Dora (8) attempts to tackle Kansas State running back Justin Silmon (32) during the Bulldog’s triple OT loss in Manhatten, Kansas on Sept. 19–Photo Courtesy of Athletic Communications

BLAKE BOLIN

News Editor | btb017@latech.edu

 

When Bulldog fans watch senior defensive end Vontarrius Dora bring down opposing quarterbacks, most would probably be surprised to find out that football was not the first sport he had his eyes set on.

 

The 6-foot-4 defensive lineman hails from West Point, Mississippi, where he dominated both on the football field and the basketball court, and Dora won’t be ashamed to tell you that basketball was his first love.

 

If it was not for one particular family member, Dora may have just stuck to the hardwood.

 

“I really started playing football because of my brother (Cornelius Devine),” Dora said. “I was more of a basketball guy, but I watched him achieve so much in football. He was my role model growing up. I started playing football because of him.”

 

Opposing quarterbacks are probably wishing he had stuck to basketball, but Dora followed in the footsteps of Devine, who was forced to hang up his own cleats after multiple back injuries.

 

But Dora was not ready to put an end to his basketball career just yet as he made the transition to West Point High School as a prep star.

 

Using his height, weight and incredible athletic ability, Dora wreaked havoc for opposing Mississippi high school basketball teams, playing on both the junior varsity and varsity teams as a freshman.

 

Dora would go on to start varsity for the next two years before deciding to give up the first sport he ever loved to focus on football.

 

“Basketball was my first love so I was kind of heartbroken,” Dora said. “I just had to stay focused on my future. If I would have focused on basketball like I did with football, I think I could have gone and played college basketball.”

 

With football as his future, Dora wrapped up his high school days and headed to Ruston with high expectations after he chose Louisiana Tech as his next step, but the Mississippi native struggled to stay healthy early on.

 

He was forced to have two shoulder surgeries before reaching his sophomore season.

 

“My freshman year, I was really down and depressed, but the reason I came here was the players because they are like family to me,” Dora said. “They would talk me through it every day. They would keep me positive and motivated. I am the kind of person who is determined and I just push through everything.”

 

Dora’s attitude was to always keep his head held high and most of his teammates would describe him as easy going and the life of the locker room.

 

Dora admitted that his life has not always been easy and was forced to overcome obstacles throughout his childhood, but he has always used music to help push him through those tough times and the tale is the same today.

 

“I just think about everything I have overcome,” Dora said. “I listen to it to remind me that I pushed through everything. It reminds me of how great I can be in life and to stay on my grind, give it my all and keep going.”

 

While Dora’s love for basketball will never fade, it is clear the Lombardi Award Watch List member made the right decision to stick to the gridiron and the fans packing the seats at Joe Aillet Stadium would be quick to agree.

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