HUNTINGTON — Stevie Wonder dubbed Philadelphia 76ers legend Darryl Dawkins “Chocolate Thunder” because Dawkins was described to Wonder as the chocolate guy putting down thunder dunks.
D’Andre “Chocolate” Wilson didn’t have such luck on how he acquired his nickname.
“During birth, I came out extra dark and my father said my name was ‘Chocolate,’” Wilson said in an interview last week. “Ever since then, my name has been Chocolate.”
No matter the humorous beginnings, life has been sweet like chocolate for Wilson.
Recruited out of Myrtle Beach (S.C.) High School, the same school as former Marshall running back Butchie Wallace, Wilson was regarded as No. 11 overall prospect in South Carolina and No. 72 cornerback prospect in the nation by Rivals. ESPN even ranked him as a 4-star recruit.
“I thought it was great, me being a 4-star,” Wilson said. “People were telling me, but at the same time I was ignoring that. It’s a blessing and I’m thankful for that.”
During his junior season in 2011, Wilson registered 39 tackles; intercepted six passes, recovered two fumbles and scored two defensive touchdowns.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Wilson recorded 15 tackles in two games during his senior season before he was sidelined with a knee injury, which might have kept him from being part of the annual Shrine Bowl, which features the top seniors from North Carolina and South Carolina.
“That’s one of the things I wanted to do in high school at the end of the year, make the Shrine bowl.” Wilson said.
But Wilson earned the respect of coaches in his home state, he achieved one of his dreams by being selected to the Shrine Bowl.
“That was a lot of respect; I respect that from the coaches,” he said. “Being hurt my whole senior season and then getting selected to the Shrine Bowl really humbled me and showed me how blessed I am.
“I’m thankful. I’m glad the coaches made the decision to put me in the Shrine Bowl.”
Wilson received offers from N.C. State, Missouri, Purdue and Ole Miss, but started to build a relationship with Marshall wide receivers coach Gerald Parker.
“He kept calling me, we stayed in contact, and ever since that (knee) injury he kept that relationship,” Wilson said. “I was at the Shrine Bowl actually and he kept calling me and we’d talk and that built a good relationship.”
It didn’t hurt that the movie “We Are Marshall” left an impression upon Wilson; it piqued his curiosity about the school when he was being recruited.
“I did watch the movie and ever since then the school stood out,” Wilson said. “As they recruited me, I started looking deep into it and I thought about Randy Moss and guys like that. It was big to me.”
Myrtle Beach is the unofficial southern tip of West Virginia, as thousands from the state flock to the vacation destination, so it’s not surprising to hear Wilson talk about Huntington as a second home after this visit.
“It felt like home, everybody welcomed me to the place, they treated (me) right, I like the football tradition at Marshall, it was really big for me and the education as well,” Wilson said. “The cold weather, I like it, it’s not Myrtle Beach, but I’m going to have to adapt to the weather and ride with it.”
Sometime during the trip back home from his visit, Wilson realized he wanted to back to Huntington and play for Marshall.
“I was taking that plane fight back to Myrtle Beach, realizing that I really like this place,” Wilson said. “Soon as I made it back to Myrtle Beach I called Coach Parker and told him I’m ready to be a part of Marshall.”
So, Herd Coach Doc Holliday got “Chocolate” just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Paul Swann, co-host of the Insider Sportsline, has worked in Huntington sports radio for more than 20 years. He holds awards and honors from the West Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.