Darboh Sets Iowa Official

Amara Darboh has long been the apple of the Iowa fans' eyes when it comes to recruiting. The Dowling Catholic receiver picked up a Hawkeye offer well over a year ago. This weekend, he's scheduled to officially visit Iowa City.

It's been a pressure cooker for Amarah Darboh. Iowa fans come at him every day in every way as the state's Top Class of 2012 football recruit travels through the recruiting process.

"I think he is getting pressure. I don't think there's any question about that," said Tom Wilson, his coach at West Des Moines (Iowa) Dowling Catholic. "I don't think it has bothered him a lot. I probably try to shelter him from that kind of stuff more than anything else.

"There are an awful lot of Hawk fans out there. Heck, I like going to the Hawk games and have been doing it for years. But as it comes down to it, it's what's best for Amara."

The outside fan pressure could heat up on Darboh this week. He's scheduled to take his official visit to Iowa on Saturday when the Hawkeyes play host to Northwestern in a night game at Kinnick Stadium.

"I think he feels very good about Iowa," Wilson said. "He certainly has a great deal of respect for Coach (Kirk) Ferentz. He has a good feeling about him.

"He likes the thought that (Wide Receivers) Coach (Erik) Campbell has coached good receivers, first at Michigan and now at Iowa. That's certainly a big draw for him."

Scout.com ranks Darboh as the 23rd best receiver nationally in the 2012 Class. The service tabs him as a four-star recruit on his five-star scale and ranks him as the best in-state prospect in this year's group of seniors.

Darboh has visited Iowa unofficially several times and was at the Pittsburgh game in Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 24. He used his first official visit on a trip to Wisconsin for a 35-0, Badger drubbing of Oregon State.

"He enjoyed the trip to Madison," Wilson said. "That staff has done a very good job with him. He feels very good about the school, the program, the coaching staff and has gotten to know some of the players. I think it was very positive."

Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame round out Darboh's Final 5. He tentatively as a trip scheduled to officially visit the Wolverines on Nov. 26 when they play host to rival Ohio State.

"With Notre Dame and Florida, I don't think that there's anything set," Wilson said. "He plans on visiting those places, but I don't have any concrete dates right now."

Wilson said those visits likely would come after the season as Dowling begins its playoffs in two weeks. The coach does not sense that his star wideout is favoring any of the schools.

"He hasn't sat down and said, "Coach, this is my first choice, this is my second choice…" and so on and so forth," Wilson said. "I just know how he kind of feels about each program and does he see himself there. I think at Iowa he certainly does. I think Wisconsin he feels very good about that.

"Florida, he hasn't even stepped on campus. He's been Notre Dame enough to know about them. He took a summer unofficial to Michigan. I know he felt very good about that. He's trying to see if it's a one-time feeling when he visits a place or if he truly has found where he wants to be."

Wilson said that he's advised Darboh, who hopes to major in business, to look into the academic support system of the schools at which he's looking. The coach also encouraged his athlete to gauge how he relates to the players already on a program's campus.

"I also think the history of the programs is very important," Wilson said. "That's where Iowa comes in that there's so much (coaching) stability there. I think that's certainly a plus for them.

"He has to feel good about the offense that he's going to go into and his position coach."

Wilson said Darboh does not have a set date for his decision.

"I'm just trying to be patient with Amara," the coach said. "It's not about me. If it would have been my choice, we'd have had this done a long time ago.

"It's one of those things where he has to feel comfortable. It's a lifetime decision."

Darboh moved to Iowa when he was seven to escape the turmoil in his native Sierra Leone. He left his birth parents behind in Freetown.

"Kids grow up being Iowa fans from birth and that's terrific," Wilson said. "It's a little different with Amara. I don't think it's your typical, home-grown Iowa kid.

"He's looking for the best situation for him that's going to help him grow as a person, get a degree and help him grow as a player. It's going to have to come down to a gut feeling that he has.

"I don't think there's any question he want's his guardians' blessing in all of this. They play a very important role and they're going to support him in anything that he does. He'll probably want my blessing and I'm very much the same as his guardians. I'll help him out, but ultimately it's his decision."

Wilson said he prefers it when his players stay in state to play college football.

"But with Amara, I think you just have to do what's best for the kid," the coach said. "Any of my personal preferences or thoughts I just keep to myself unless he specifically asks me."

Darboh suffered a separated shoulder in a Sept. 23 game against Southeast Polk. He has been sidelined since the injury occurred.

"Really, our plan all along was to try to keep him out until the playoffs," Wilson said. "To this point, we're going to be able to stick to that plan.

"He's been running and he's been on the bike. Obviously, he's been doing rehab on that shoulder. The big thing this week is to get him running even more and catching passes and route running."

Dowling finishes up its regular season this Friday and then has a bye before the postseason begins.


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