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Live, love, inspire: Myles Dorn hopes to bring prominence back to the UNC football team

Myles Dorn celebrates

Safety Myles Dorn (1) celebrates with teammates after recording his first career interception against Notre Dame on Oct. 7 in Kenan Memorial Stadium.

When Myles Dorn joined the UNC football team in 2016, the first-year had a bit of a head start on most of his new teammates.

Dorn’s father, Torin Dorn Sr., played football for North Carolina from 1986 to 1989 before a career in the NFL. He was a Tar Heel veteran when Mack Brown joined as the team’s head coach in 1988.

Now, the younger Dorn has his own opportunity to impress Brown.

At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Dorn’s presence demands your attention when he enters a room. But if you’re able to talk to the senior defensive back, you’ll quickly realize he’s a gentle giant.

He’s a soft-spoken young man that takes the time to think about his answers in a conversation, a trait that his teammate Myles Wolfolk still pokes fun at.

“He had to open up to us," Wolfolk said. "He was very quiet coming in, and I get on him about it now sometimes. He's just very observant of his surroundings.”

Dorn doesn’t play many video games. Other than sports, he doesn’t watch much television. He keeps up with shoes, listens to rapper Nipsey Hussle and reads about possible investment opportunities.

He’s much more selective with his actions than one would normally expect from a 21-year-old.

“He stretches and stays in his bed, maybe looks at social media a little bit and calls it a night at, like, nine o’clock sometimes,” Wolfolk said. “That boy loves to sleep. He’s really an old man.”

Dorn’s lifestyle has worked for him, though. As a true first-year, he appeared in all 13 of UNC’s games at safety. By his sophomore year, he was a consistent starter and tied for the most interceptions on the team.

But this "old man" has been put to the test since that early head start.

In the second half of the 2018 season opener against California, Dorn suffered a knee injury that kept him sidelined for about six weeks. He had to go through two surgeries after the season ended to fully recover.

At the end of that same season, one of Dorn’s grandfathers died. Less than a year later, he lost his other grandfather as well.

Now, heading into his senior season with the Tar Heels, Dorn is looking to be a role model to those around him through his own simple philosophy: live, love and inspire.

Family Bonding

Sports have always been a bonding tool for the Dorn family.

After Dorn Sr. made the switch from running back to defensive back near the end of his collegiate career, he was selected in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL draft by the Raiders, which were then in Los Angeles. He played a total of six seasons in the pros for the Raiders and then the Rams in St. Louis.

After his playing days, Dorn Sr. took up coaching high school football. And once Myles and his brother, Torin Dorn Jr., reached elementary school, he started bringing them to play with the high schoolers.

The two youngsters didn’t just survive amongst the older kids. They thrived.

“I would always use them as examples when it came down to backpedaling, catching and things of that nature,” Dorn Sr. said. “When I had high school guys and they would get through the line and they dropped my ball or couldn't do a backpedal, I was like, ‘Look at this. I got these little seven-year-old kids out here that can do that.’”

When they weren’t helping out at their dad’s practices, the two brothers would always compete against each other.

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Since Dorn Jr. is a little over two years older than his brother, their father would create specific rules to even the playing field and make the two work harder.

Dorn Jr. gravitated towards basketball at a young age, eventually landing at N.C. State and leading the team in scoring during his redshirt senior season. So, when he played against his brother, he had to shoot left-handed.

Afterward, the young duo would move to the football field for catching drills, where Dorn was in his element. Sometimes he would have to catch one-handed.

“We made it challenging to see exactly who was the best and everything, but we also supported each other,” Dorn Sr. said. “... It was never pitting one against the other to where you embarrassed him. It was always to try to make them better.”

The results speak for themselves. After his senior season with the UNC football team, Dorn plans on pursuing a career in the NFL. His older brother recently signed a deal to play professional basketball in Poland.

“The way we grew up was we went to school, came home and my mom got us a snack before dinner,” Dorn said. “We did our homework, and after we did our homework, we went outside. We didn't live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids; it was just me and my brother. So we were outside competing, playing, doing whatever we gotta do.”

‘I just lost everything’

Dorn’s junior season couldn’t have been much further from what he hoped for.

He was coming off of a sophomore year where the defensive back ranked third on the team for total tackles and had been solidified as a starter in all 12 games. Everything was trending upwards.

Then, he got injured.

Late in the first game of his junior year, Dorn suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss the following three games. He returned to the field to finish out the year but needed two surgeries after the season to correct the issue.

While he was rehabbing in the offseason, his father’s dad passed away. Then, his mother’s dad passed the following summer.

“That period of time with me being out of football is when I lost both my grandfathers,” Dorn said. “So it was like kind of all at one time, I just lost everything.”

His loved ones were there for him to lean on, constantly offering their support through the challenging times of loss in the Dorn family.

“That’s when we rally together,” Dorn Sr. said. “That’s when family comes together, in those times of despair."

Dorn learned from his situation, and about himself. He learned which friends were there just because he was on the football team, and he learned which friends were there for him as a person.

In November, things got worse when North Carolina fired then-head coach Larry Fedora after back-to-back nine loss seasons.

For many, the move wasn’t a controversial one. But Dorn had been one of the few bright spots in the losses under Fedora. Now, he was losing the coach that had helped develop him into the steady contributor that he had become.

“I was (nervous). I definitely didn’t know what was next. Not knowing is what brings fear,” Dorn said. "Change is something that was probably best, and I’m just glad that it went the way it did.”

It didn’t take long for things to start turning around for Dorn, though. 

Days after Fedora was fired, UNC announced that Brown would be returning as the head football coach. It meant the world to Dorn that he would be coached by the same man that had helped mold his father into an NFL talent.

“I was excited just to be coached by a Hall of Fame coach,” Dorn said. “Not a lot of people get to have that type of knowledge and wisdom in the room every day.”

Naturally, he asked his dad what to expect from the new mentor.

“(Brown’s) going to be looking for hard work. He’s going to be looking for guys that are leaders, not followers,” Dorn Sr. said.

Now in his senior season, Dorn is fully healthy after spending part of his junior year and this offseason leading from the sideline. Under the guidance of Brown, Dorn has his sights set on helping UNC return to prominence. As he returns to the field, he’s looking to leave that lasting impression on others off the field as well through spreading his mantra.

Dorn has lived: Competing against his older brother while growing up turned him into the successful student-athlete he is at UNC today.

Dorn has loved: He hasn’t forgotten about those that were close enough to him to support him through the dark times.

“Shoutout to those people,” Dorn said. “They kind of helped me through everything.”

Now, Dorn is looking to continue inspiring in his final season with the North Carolina football team.

“To inspire somebody is one of the highest acts you can do,” Dorn said. “Because you were inspired by somebody when you were younger, then that drove you to do what you were supposed to do.”

@McMastersJ

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com