June 22, 2011

Former Ohio QB making home, waves in Texas

A number of top 2013 quarterback prospects have already emerged inside the state of Texas, and one of the most intriguing has yet to take a varsity snap inside the state.

Last season, Jordan Darling was a standout on the football field throwing for 1,083 yards and seven touchdowns at West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West. He led the Greater Miami Conference in passing after becoming the Firebirds starter in week three of the season. However, when his mother, Maj. Leslie Darling, was assigned to Fort Hood to prepare for her units deployment to Afghanistan, Jordan made the move to the Lone Star state.

"Honestly I miss my friends and my teammates from Ohio, but the decision wasn't that difficult because I wanted to spend that time with my mom and I didn't want be separated from her," Darling said. "I think it was a pretty easy decision."

Growing up in a military family Darling has seen the scenery change a few times over the course of his life, and has instilled in him sense of what is truly important in life.

"From a very young age it developed my character," he said. I learned how to respect adults and talk to adults. And being around the military my whole life it's benefitted me. My parents, I look up to my parents, they sacrificed so much for me."

Since the standout quarterback arrived at Midway High School in Waco, Texas, he has quickly found a home in coach Terry Gambill's Panther program.

"It was a fairly easy transition," Darling said. "Leaving Ohio was pretty difficult but we came to support my mom obviously. We came down here and I started going to school and the football players and my teammates took care of me and my coaches made it easy on me. It's was a really fun transition and it went pretty well."

A big part of helping make that transition easy were his teammates and classmates at Midway, and it goes without saying the Panther coaching staff has played a huge part in helping make him comfortable.

"Coach Gambill he's a great coach and he made it easy for me," he said. "He helped me adjust to the hard work. He and all the rest of the coaches like my quarterback coach have helped me tremendously. It's pretty easy. I came in here and went straight to work. The coaches didn't treat me any differently than anyone else, and the coaches work really hard too. We're just putting in a lot of hours for next season."

Darling was already considered a top, young quarterback, having attracted the attention of coaches at the likes of Florida, Oklahoma, and Ohio St. before his sophomore season. This summer he has already made a few camp visits.

"The camps are going great. I've been to Oklahoma, Baylor, and Texas so far. I just try to learn something new from each camp to help me be a better quarterback for my team this season. I've taken a lot from it and I like to compete against the other quarterbacks and see the competition here in Texas."

Oklahoma was his first stop of the summer. He has had the opportunity to camp in Norman before, and the trip gave him a chance to work closely with coach Josh Heupel.

"That was the third year I've been to that camp and it went really great," Darling said. "It was definitely the best year we've had of the three. It went well. I got a lot more attention than I received the previous two years and I threw well and coach Heupel told me a lot of things. It was real good."

The next stop was a visit to Baylor's June 12 mini-camp where he was able to get a feel for the coaches as well as compete with several Texas signal callers.

"Baylor was good. I met all the coaches and the head coach talked to me a lot and the quarterback coach seemed to take a real interest in me," he said. "It's the same story there, I just like to compete against the other quarterbacks and see them and see where I'm at with quarterbacks in my grade and above me."

The trip to Texas on June 14 was his most recent stop on the camp circuit and his first trip to Austin.

"Texas was good," he said. "It was a little bit hotter but that's fine. There was a lot of competition at the quarterback level. There were a lot of great athletes. Texas was great, but I didn't have as much time at Texas as I did Baylor and Oklahoma."

While he was not able to spend as much time on campus as the others he was impressed with what he saw in the Mack Brown's Longhorn program.

"It was great to see all that tradition. It helped me understand what Texas was all about," Darling said. "I met coach Brown. He's a great man and great coach. I was honored just to meet him, and the same thing with coach Applewhite and coach Harsin. They're all great coaches and they gave me a lot of attention and everything went well. They're just really outstanding people."

He may attend a few other camps but at this time does not have any concrete plans on the schedule. As for recruiting, he is taking everything in at this point in the process and is focused on his junior season with the Panthers.

Darling's size is immediately noticed, but his consistent throwing motion, quick delivery, footwork, and arm strength are equally noted on the football field. College coaches have taken notice too, but it is something else that pushes Darling he considers his biggest strength.

"My strength is probably my work ethic and my heart. I hate losing," he said. "You ask any quarterback and they hate losing and I try to do everything within my power not to lose. I want to come out a winner. My strength would definitely be my hard work."

It is that kind of determination and passion he tries to put on display every day, every down, and every rep as the 2011 season approaches. He knows the bar is set high. The Panthers are coming off a 12-1 season with their only loss coming at the hands of Denton Ryan in the Regional round of the playoffs. Darling may not have been on the field, but he is familiar with the game and he and his teammates are putting everything else aside to make sure the team comes first.

"Midway there's some high expectations," Darling said. "Our motto is 'We will win' and I don't really set goals for myself I just want to win football games," he said. "As a team we want to win state. That's all that's on our minds. We don't want anything less. We just want to win."

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