Ty Darlington is yet another OU center with an impressive resume’ of accomplishments. The center is typically the smartest player on the offensive line — in this case both in football and book smarts. Much like his predecessor Gabe Ikard, Darlington is an academic whiz, team captain and multi-year starter who is the heart and soul of Bill Bedenbaugh’s group of Big Uglies.
Ikard and Darlington never met a B, graduated early, were into their Master’s programs while playing on Saturdays, and could talk at least as well as they played. Darlington is not a dominant player, but has succeeded with effort, an irrepressible work ethic, by being a leader, understanding the roles of every lineman and by getting everything out of his 6-2 by 299-pound frame. Like his mates, he’s struggled frequently in 2015. But when all-conference linemen who are now playing in the NFL lined up next to him last year, no one complained about Darlington’s play — a perfect illustration that it’s often the players that surround you that determine how one is judged.
Darlington scored a 33 on his ACT and recorded a 2060 SAT, a tad above you and me, right? Class Valedictorian at Apopka HS where he played for his head coach father Rick, who has won three state titles — none when Ty played. Bedenbaugh and Bob Stoops have told me how much his high school wrestling helps with his footwork, leverage and various chores along the O-Line. Brother Zack is a redshirt freshman QB with whom he speaks daily at Nebraska.
But it’s his mom who is responsible for Ty being a Sooner. Shelly Darlington was once upon a time an OU cheerleader in the 1980’s by the name of Shelly Fried. I’ll let Ty detail her role in him becoming a Sooner.
I don’t know how good Darlington’s gonna play the rest of his season and if his offensive linemen will improve enough to give Oklahoma a legitimate shot at making a late-season run. What I do know is that Ty Darlington is one of the most productive and exemplary student athletes to roam these parts. The smile on his face, the enthusiasm he displays, and the often-entertaining way he articulates his thoughts have made it a joy for this journalist to cover the Florida-native during his career.