Ty Darlington became the second Oklahoma center in the last three years to win the Wuerffel Trophy, known as "College Football's Premier Award for Community Service." Darlington was on hand for the announcement at a National Football Foundation press conference at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
Darlington, who is also one of 12 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy (will be awarded Tuesday night to college football's best scholar-athlete), has made 25 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 is working on his master's in Adult and Higher Education (Intercollegiate Athletics Administration emphasis).
"It's an incredible honor, more than anything because all of the people who have won this before me are incredible men, and because it's a service award," said Darlington. "It's also humbling. I never did any of this on my own. All the different activities I did with other people, because of other people and for other people. So while it's an individual honor, I want to be able to share it with all the people I did the stuff with. I couldn't have done those things by myself."
From Apopka, Fla., Darlington has made significant community contributions on campus, around Norman and elsewhere. He is serving as 2015-16 president of the Big 12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (served as 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 Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter in 2013-14 and 2014-15 (he averages between 10-15 FCA speeches per semester).
Darlington also served as 2014-15 president of the OU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, helped lead the OU football volunteer efforts following the devastating tornadoes that hit Oklahoma in May 2013, volunteers at Oklahoma's Children's Hospital special events, has traveled to Haiti three times as part of the Mission of Hope (earthquake damage relief) and has served as a volunteer football coach at Apopka High School every year since graduation.
Voting for the Wuerffel Trophy was performed by a national selection committee that includes college football television and print media, industry notables, former head coaches and prior Wuerffel Trophy recipients. Joining Darlington as finalists this year were Indiana senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld and Kentucky senior punter Landon Foster.
Darlington will fly from New York to Atlanta to be interviewed at "The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show" on ESPNU and ESPN3 this Thursday (airs at 5 p.m. CT). The show will feature interviews with award winners and finalists as they approach the new location for "The Home Depot College Football Awards" show at the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience in downtown Atlanta. The presentation of the 2015 Wuerffel Trophy will occur at the 47th Annual All Sports Association Awards Banquet on Feb. 12, 2016, in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
The Wuerffel Trophy is named after former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, who led the Florida Gators to the 1996 national championship, played six years in the National Football League and has received national recognition for his humanitarian and community service efforts around the country.
"Me growing up in Florida, (Wuerffel) is a legend in the state for what he did with the Gators," said Darlington. "I was young when he was in his prime, but knowing who he was and hearing all about him, it was an incredible honor to meet him (here in New York). I never would have thought that would be someone I'd be shaking hands with and taking pictures with when I got here to OU."
OU center Gabe Ikard was the 2013 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy.