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Former Fairmont State lineman Zavala selected in NFL Draft

Apr. 29—FAIRMONT — A former Fairmont State Falcon is headed to the NFL.

Chandler Zavala was selected Saturday by the Carolina Panthers, coming off the board in the fourth round at pick 114. The sixth-year senior played at North Carolina State last season, but his college career began at Fairmont State.

Zavala played his first three years with the Falcons, earning multiple first team All-Mountain East Conference nods at the university.

Zavala only began playing football his senior year of high school, and was a zero-star recruit out of Woodbridge, Virginia. The physical tools of the 6-foot-4 lineman did not go unnoticed by Fairmont State, who extended an offer to Zavala, still a football novice at that point.

As a freshman, Zavala appeared in three games for the Falcons. He improved markedly in his sophomore and junior seasons, being named to the All-MEC first team in both years.

After Fairmont State's 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zavala jumped to the D-1 level and transferred to North Carolina State.

Zavala was an immediate starter for the Wolfpack in 2021, but a back injury cut his season short. After the 2021 season, Zavala was at the end of his collegiate eligibility. He was allowed to return for a sixth year after applying for a special medical exemption.

Zavala returned to NC State in 2022, starting 13 games and surrendering just a single sack and four total pressures. The former Falcon played well enough to earn a selection at the start of day three of the 2023 NFL Draft, and Zavala will stay in the same state he has played college football in for the last two years.

Zavala becomes the seventh player to go into the NFL after playing at Fairmont State, and the first since 1982, when quarterback Luc Tousignant was drafted by the Buffalo Bills.

Reach Nick Henthorn at 304-367-2548, on Twitter @nfhenthorn_135 or by email at nhenthorn@timeswv.com.