HUNTINGTON — Each year, National Signing Day produces a few late surprises that rock the college football recruiting world.
This year, one of those surprises took place right in the Mountain State's own backyard.
Spring Valley offensive lineman Doug Nester, one of the nation's top offensive linemen and an Ohio State commit since Aug. 2017, flipped his commitment this week and signed with Virginia Tech on Wednesday morning.
Nester submitted his National Letter of Intent around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday.
When it came down to the decision, Nester said it just became about what felt the most like home for him.
"I love it there," Nester said. "It's almost like a small little Huntington away from all the bad stuff. It's a great place to live and there's a really great group of guys coming in. I just feel like they work hard and know what to do."
Nester said the decision wasn't an easy one for him as he came down the stretch and juggled the potential of signing with Ohio State, whom he had been committed to for nearly 18 months, Virginia Tech and Penn State.
All of them offered something unique, but in the end, the overall allure of the Hokies won out.
"Ohio State is always the best of the best and they continue to get great talent and great guys, but it's a big city and I don't know if I would fit in well there," Nester said. "Penn State is a great place - a small kind of town that is a city built around its campus. The town life is great and the guys are great, but it's a little too far. I feel like Virginia Tech is that happy medium. It's three hours away and only an hour away from my sisters."
Nester submitted his National Letter of Intent early on Wednesday morning and he will host a signing ceremony at 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon in the school's auditorium for friends and family to celebrate the occasion.
Nester, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound talent who is ranked as the No. 6 offensive guard prospect in the Class of 2019, has had quite the unique experience within recruiting and spoke of the wild ride that he's been on over the last two months prior to signing day.
The Stydahar Award winner (West Virginia’s top lineman) was locked in with Ohio State as the Buckeyes won the 2018 Big Ten Championship on Dec. 2 with a 45-24 win over Northwestern.
At that time, Nester thought that he would be on campus in Columbus within a week and he was finalizing plans to enroll early at The Ohio State University.
That's when the college football landscape dropped a bombshell that impacted Nester's decision: head coach Urban Meyer was stepping down at season's end and giving way to new head coach Ryan Day, who would take over the program.
"Two days," Nester said of the time before he was scheduled to head to Columbus.
With a small window of time to collect his thoughts, Nester decided to delay enrolling early at Ohio State, but stayed committed to the Buckeyes while taking other visits and getting to know other coaching staffs - something he had not really done since before his junior year when he verbally committed to Meyer.
Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess lauded his star offensive lineman for keeping his poise in a tense situation.
"That was one of the best business moves that I've ever seen out of a kid and as mature of a decision that he made," Dingess said. "He didn't feel comfortable with it and he made the decision that he felt was best for him academically and athletically.
"That just shows that you don't burn bridges and you don't shut people out because you just never know what's going to happen. Situations change, dynamics change. Doug's a good guy that builds relationships and that's what he did. He built relationships with these coaches and, when the dynamics changed, he was able to make a decision that was best for him."
Despite Nester's poise in handling the situation, he admitted that the change in dynamic with Ohio State weighed heavily on him as National Signing Day approached.
"It's very stressful because with a new head coach, things are going to be a little bit different," Nester said. "It was very stressful to see that happen as soon as you are about to sign on the dotted line. All of the sudden, you have to hold up for a second and re-evaluate everything."
Now, Nester's new home will be at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., playing for head coach Justin Fuente and offensive line coach Vance Vice in a power-based offense.
"I feel like a big factor was the way that they play football," Nester said. "Just the way they play football is hard-nosed. They are going to go at you no matter what, and I feel like it really fits how I play and all of the O-lineman are very similar."
The atmosphere at Lane Stadium is one of college football's best with the team coming onto the field with Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blaring over the speakers.
Nester said that while on his visit to Blacksburg last weekend, he thought about what it would be like to take the field for a college football game there.
"Goosebumps, man," Nester said. "Knowing that 'Enter Sandman' is getting ready to come on and 70,000 people are cheering as loud as they can, it gets you pumped up. I can't wait to get this over with and go to work."