Ty Darlington is going to need a bigger mantel.
For the third time in three months, the former Oklahoma football center was bestowed a national honor Tuesday when he received the 2015 Bobby Bowden Award, presented by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, during a lunch ceremony in downtown Oklahoma City that featured the award's namesake.
Already the recipient of the National Football Foundation's Campbell Trophy as the nation's most outstanding football scholar-athlete, and the Wuerffel Trophy, which is college football's premier award for community service, Darlington claimed the Bowden Award as the Football Bowl Subdivision player "who epitomizes a student-athlete." The Bowden Award winner "must conduct himself as a faith model in the classroom, on the field, on campus and in the community, and must carry at least a 3.0 GPA."
"They have (awards) for blocking and they have them for tackling and they have them for everything else," said Bowden, the former Florida State, West Virginia and Samford head coach who is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame with 377 career wins and two national titles. "So here's one for character; academics, behaving yourself and athletic talent. (Ty's) got all three of them."
A first-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior this past year for the 11-2 Sooners, Darlington was named the Big 12's 2015 football Scholar-Athlete of the Year and is a two-time CoSIDA first-team Academic All-American®. The Apopka, Fla., native made 26 career starts, graduated from OU in two-and-a-half years with a 3.91 GPA in Arts and Sciences planned program (health promotion emphasis) and will earn his master's in adult and higher education (intercollegiate athletics administration emphasis) this May.
"The FCA has been such a big part of my development, and that's why this is so special," said Darlington, who also shared with ceremony attendees that his parents met through FCA. "I've been able to sort of come into my own as a leader as I've been able to have the opportunities through FCA here (in Oklahoma). I was willing to push the limits of my own potential a little bit and watch as God used different people to shape me and mold me into a leader and a man."
Darlington is serving as 2015-16 president of the Big 12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee after serving as the 2014-15 vice president, is one of 15 Division I student-athletes who serves on the NCAA's autonomy legislation committee and was president of the OU FCA chapter in 2013-14 and 2014-15 (he averages between 10-15 FCA speeches per semester).
He has traveled to Haiti for a week of volunteer work three times as part of the Sooners for Haiti and is a very popular visitor at area children's care facilities.
"I am a big believer in the platform that student-athletes have," Darlington explained. "A lot of athletes don't realize the power and influence you have just because of a jersey, and not because of the name on the back of a jersey but because of the name on the front. We have a unique ability that few others do to be able to make someone's day, whether it be signing an autograph or taking a picture, or shaking a hand during a two-minute hospital visit. Or something so small and insignificant in our eyes but still makes a great impact on other people. So I want more athletes to be able to realize that and use that platform to its full potential."
Darlington, who is OU's second Bowden Award recipient (Carl Pendleton won in 2006), is now pursuing a professional football career.-----
Bobby Bowden Award Winners
2003: Jason Wright, Northwestern
2004: Billy Bajema, Oklahoma State
2005: D.J. Shockley, Georgia
2006: Carl Pendleton, Oklahoma
2007: Jacob Tamme, Kentucky
2008: Stephen McGee, Texas A&M
2009: Colt McCoy, Texas
2010: Christian Ponder, Florida State
2011: Case Keenum, Houston
2012: Ashton Richardson, Auburn
2013: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2014: Bryce Petty, Baylor
2015: Ty Darlington, Oklahoma
- OU -