Bishop Dunne Senior Darrion Daniels Does Dynamic Defense – and Offense!
When Texas Tech Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury came to visit Bishop Dunne last week he headed straight to Darrion Daniel’s class. With 33 college offers, Darrion has a big decision to make. Texas Tech needs a big man like him on the team to turn it around. And Darrion has a big reason to attend there.
“My father played there after his high school career at Permian,” Darrion says, adding, “Then, after college he played for Green Bay for three years.” If you’ve attended a football game in the last two years, you probably saw – and heard – Darrion’s father cheering for the team. He’s obviously a huge fan of the sport and one of the biggest fans of the Falcon Football team.
So as the holidays approach, Darrion gets to give a gift to his parents: a full college scholarship based on his good academics and great football finesse. “I hope to make my decision soon, by the end of December,” he says.
Darrion grew up in Red Oak, and the last time his team won a championship was in Pee Wee Football. His father was the team’s coach then. “I was ten,” Darrion remembers, “and began playing in the third grade, when I was about eight.” He just turned 17 on December 4, the day before the State Championship game in Corsicana. The state title was his goal, “kind of a birthday present to me,” he laughs.
As both an Offensive and Defensive lineman, Darrion played most of the season’s final state championship game both ways, and was key in the most dazzling play, which included quarterback Micah Simon running for 99 yards for a touchdown. “The play right before that one I jumped off-sides,” Darrion said, chagrined. “I felt so bad about that. We were backed up to our one-yard-line and Micah said we had to get a few yards to give our punter some room to punt.” But Darrion made up for his previous mistake with a big block that opened up a hole which Micah ran through – and kept on running.
“It was a BIG block,” Micah confirms with a smile.
When interviewed about it during Channel 8’s “High School Team of the Week,” Micah admitted he began to feel tired about the 50-yard line.
“In practice, we open up holes and Micah runs about ten yards,” Darrion explains. “And in games, he maybe gets five or six and then gets tackled.” Most of Micah’s 99 yards Darrion missed. “I knew he’d run by me and the guy I was blocking, and I sort of walked over to the sideline to say I needed to take the next play off to get a breather.” He did get to sit out that play, as the kicking team went in to follow the touchdown for the extra point.
The play re-energized a Falcon team that had gone into the game with one goal: a State Championship win. “We had a lot of doubters all season,” Darrion recalls. “After each win we’d hear how we’d gotten lucky. I mean, it didn’t seem to matter who we beat: Nolan, Bishop Lynch, Prestonwood. We kept hearing how we weren’t that good, and we weren’t going to go to State.”
Darrion knows about going places. He’s been to Oklahoma University, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State on college visits, and realizes that playing for any college football team will include a lot of travel.
He admits that transferring to Bishop Dunne last year was tough, because his homework load grew. He came to Dunne for the academics, so quickly learned that included about two to three hours a night of studying. He says, “I am better now at time management, and I know I am learning far more than when I was in public school.” His favorite teacher this year is also his toughest. “Miss Maclin for English – she’s my favorite teacher but it’s a hard class. But she teaches so well that I get it.” He had mostly A’s and B’s before coming to Dunne, but knows his B’s and C’s have an added bonus: the harder courses are preparing him well for college.
A tri-athlete, Darrion was hoping to take a break after the football season and relax, but Head Basketball Coach Alfers told him the team needed him too. Theoretically basketball isn’t a contact sport, but Darrion admits a lot of his opponents bump into him – and bump right off. At six-foot-four-inches and 300 pounds, there are not a lot of basketball players his size. And when this season is over, Darrion will be back on the track throwing the shot put.
His goal is to attend college for a business or engineering degree, and possibly play in the NFL, but cautions, “My mother insists I finish college first, and I agree with her – a diploma is the goal.”
His other goal is to make sure his life is a positive one, giving hope to others. A member of New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in DeSoto, he’s spent many Sundays learning about Jesus, and wants to help others as Jesus did, selflessly. The Sunday after his biggest game of the year, he was right back in church. “I went that Sunday to praise God, and thank him for the state championship.”
His brother, Damien, may follow in his footsteps. As a sophomore, playing in his first Varsity game, Darrion injured his knee, and missed two games. His brother Damien, a sophomore, had an injury this year, and plans to return as his brother did: bigger, stronger and faster than ever. The brothers would attend summer workouts with the Falcon team and then do a second workout in the afternoon, with friends back home. The conditioning was a key to Darrion’s success. “I can’t afford to be injured,” he says, “and my coaches taught me how to play so I wouldn’t be.”
One area of his life he’s working on is that relationship with his brother. “I realize that would make my parents happy. You know how brothers are - we annoy each-other but have each-other’s backs.” His parents, Tony and Rhonda, met in high school, and married after meeting up again during college.
Darrion met someone special in high school too. Both were working at the front desk during the Open House last year, and the two became friends. Darrion was voted Homecoming King, and he admits when his name was announced at the Friday Pep rally, he was surprised, explaining, “It was a nice surprise. I didn’t expect it.” And his classmates added to the joy when his friend, Glory Omorowa, was crowned Homecoming Queen at halftime at the game that night. The two plan to keep in touch as they head off to different colleges.
As the holiday season goes into full swing, Darrion has yet another arena to shine in: he’s one of four men in “The Sounds of Bishop Dunne” Gospel Choir. Darrion has been singing almost as long as he’s been playing football. “My cousin was dancing and singing in school when we were in 6th grade, and told me to join her,” he remembers. “Our Intermediate School Choir Director, Linda Lopez, heard me and got me into the school choir. Then she told the High School Choir Director, Ms. Foster, that I could sing - so I joined my high school choir.” Choir director Walter Johnson has Darrion’s respect as both a choir director and football coach. “Mr. Johnson has an amazing ear, and the ability to adjust our singing even if it’s just slightly off.” When asked if he could sing and dance, with his size 14 feet, Darrion smiles. “Well, yes, I was in Show Choir.”
A young man who can sing and dance - and make good grades and big plays on the football field in crucial games – Darrion Daniels is a Falcon ready to soar.