Ty Darlington said this week he'd like to have a decision about his college of choice wrapped up by the time his senior season starts at Apopka High.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder who is playing center this season for his father -- head coach Rick Darlington -- and the Blue Darters, is beginning to narrow the list of schools around which he will concentrate his focus. He does seem to favor Auburn and Oklahoma, while he also is intrigued by Florida State, Miami and Nebraska.
“I’m starting to get clearer picture on things,” Darlington said. “Starting to sort of see what the top couple of schools will be.”
Of course that doesn't mean other schools won't be showing up on the caller ID. In a list that was released Wednesday, Darlington was named one of the Top 100 players in the nation by analyst Tom Lemming and his Prep Football Report Top 100 prospects in the class of 2012.
Florida, as usual, is well represented in the report with 11 players in the national Top 100. Darlington is the only Central Florida entry, coming in at No. 75.
“Of course I’m very honored and sorta of surprised,” said Darlington. “But I always have to remind myself that it is just a list and those kinds of things, like rankings and stuff, won't mean much once you get to college. It doesn't help right now, and never really ever did, to be honest."
When asked if lists and rankings help give him a better measurement of how he stands compared to similar high-level prospects from around the state and the nation, Darlington said, “To an extent, I guess, but , really, what’s the difference between somebody ranked 75th and someone ranked 76, or 77th and 78th, for that matter. It’s a great honor, but you just have to keep it in perspective.”
Darlington is having to keep a lot of things in perspective right now, and he seems to being doing quite well in juggling the different responsibilities of being a top-notch college-football prospect and a top-notch high school academician.
He was registering for his senior classes this week, and he is intent on keeping his status as the top student in his class.
“It’s going very well,” said Darlington. “I just did my registration for next year, and I had to load up on some pretty hard classes to keep my slim lead [He is currently No. 1 in his class with a weighted 4.87 GPA].”
Darlington has this to look forward to during his senior year: Advanced Placement physics, AP chemistry, AP English, AP calculus, as well as a couple of classes at Valencia Community College and a Humanities course online for the summer.
He'll be busy this summer as well with more campus visits.
Auburn and Oklahoma have intrigued him enough to warrant multiple visits. He likes the coaches at Oklahoma and also has tons of family in and around the Norman area from mom Shelly’s side. As for Auburn, Darlington participated in a team camp last July and is going to visit again with his dad this weekend.
“We run sort of similar offensive stuff and my dad is going up there to study a little bit with the offensive coordinator [Gus Malzahn],” Ty said. “And I hope to get to hang out with the players a little bit. Then we’ll be back after that with my mom and brother [Apopka’s sophomore-to-be QB Zack Darlington] for the spring game [A Day is April 16, 2 p.m.].”
Shelly may not be too keen on visiting Auburn. She was a cheerleader at Oklahoma back in her college days, and then, of course, there are the family ties at OU.
“She tries to say she’s unbiased, but she’s not,” Ty said. “She wants me to be a Sooner. My uncle lives in Norman, grandparents just live outside Oklahoma City and so does my aunt, all on my mom’s side of the family.”
Coach Darlington’s parents live in Lakeland and he has a brother, in California. The coach went to Stetson University, so the Hatters have no horse in the race. Stetson is, however, planning to bring back football in 2013.
Other schools high on Darlington’s list are Florida State and Miami, while Nebraska has recently jumped into the mix.
“Florida State is really on the rise and getting better and better, and the same can be said for Miami,” Ty said. “I like the coaches at both schools, so those are the big draws there. Coach Rick Trickett, of course, at Florida State and then Coach [Art] Kehoe at Miami. Their coaching styles and the way they go about things is what I like about them."
Darlington wants to make his decision before the season if he can reach a level of comfortability with his choice. He also said that if he does decide early, he won’t be taking visits.
“Before long I want to sorta be done with it and I was thinking before the season starts, like July or early August,” he said. “And once it’s over, once I commit … it will be over. I will only visit that school, and no others.
“Once you commit you don’t need to be talking to other people. If I’m still asking myself if I still want to take other visits, then I need to wait. If not, then I can go ahead and pull the trigger.”
Darlington’s other planned trip is the Nike Football Training Camp at Tallahassee on April 17. He’ll be attending that with teammates RB Mike Todd, WR Synjohn Lilly, DB K.J. Dillon, and RB Qua Barnes.