"We felt the biggest weakness going into his junior year was that when the pocket collapsed his eyes were down. He wasn't getting the ball out or he wasn't scrambling," said Rick Darlington, his father and the head coach of Apopka. "He turned that weakness into his strength over his junior year. That is what he did best this past season. He was throwing the deep call with accuracy and getting hit. He looked calm in the pocket and played with poise."
That's certainly a sign of maturation. Darlington, 6-foot-2 and now 205-pounds, missed his first four games of the '13 campaign with a high ankle sprain. He finished the season with over 1,700 yards passing and over 700 yards rushing. He accounted for 29 touchdowns and had a completion percentage of 66%. Darlington had a super playoff run and played his last four games with a broken wrist on his throwing hand.
"Nobody knew that about his broken wrist so what he did was pretty remarkable," Darlington said. "He actually had surgery yesterday. The doctor put a pin in his wrist. He's a tough kid."
Darlington hopes his son and star quarterback will be back and ready to throw in April and participate in practice come May 1.
"Zack will definitely be back this spring," Darlington said. "He's already working hard this off-season and getting stronger. That's this year's focus. He squatted 365 times 10 times so it's coming."
"Zack will visit Virginia Tech in April for sure," Darlington said. "He may head to N.C. State. He would love to visit Arizona but that's a long way away so we will have to wait and see. Zack may visit USF this Sunday for their junior day."
Zack's older brother, Ty, plays for the Sooners. At least at this time it doesn't appear he will follow his brother's footsteps to Norman.
"Oklahoma has a strong group of quarterbacks on campus already and it looks like they have already offered an in-state quarterback."