Mid-summer report: Jordan Darling

One of the most important ways in which an athlete can mesh with his new teammates is to simply get out on the field and play. Prairie Village (KS) Shawnee Mission East quarterback Jordan Darling, who transferred in during the second semester, has been doing a great deal of that this summer - at camps and 7-on-7 events throughout the metro area.

Saturday, Jordan Darling and his SM East teammates took part in the Mid-Summer Classic 7-on-7 tournament, hosted by Stilwell (KS) Blue Valley.

The Lancers have experienced a great deal of success on the 7-on-7 circuit this summer, and that trend continued this weekend with a run to the semi-finals and a 4-2 record on the day.

The book on Darling thus far has largely been written about his prototypical size - at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds - and exceptional arm strength. While both of those are accurate descriptors, what stood out Saturday was the rapport he's building with his receivers and his confidence on intermediate throws.

Seven-on-seven events are played on a shortened field, so it's difficult for quarterbacks to really cut loose. Where a strong arm can be an advantage is when powering 15-20-yard throws through tight windows. Not every quarterback is cable of it, but Darling does it with ease.

His decision making has been exceptional every time we've seen him this summer as well. Saturday he made one mistake - he failed to locate a cornerback and threw an interception on an out pattern. But in Head Coach Chip Sherman's offense he is given a great deal of control, and if these passing tournaments are any indication the faith they've placed in him is justified

There's still room for improvement, of course. He fit throws between two and even three defenders at times on Saturday. That confidence in himself and his arm will serve him well - quarterbacks need short memories after all - but the increased speed and overall athleticism of Big 12 defenders will require an adjustment.

None of that is unexpected, however, and he will have the opportunity to learn from two of the best quarterback coaches in the game at Kansas in Charlie Weis and Ron Powlus - the duo who helped turn Jimmy Clausen and Brady Quinn into two of the most productive college quarterbacks in the country at the apex of their amateur careers.

Darling's physical gifts can't be taught - his size, his arm and his accuracy - and he's a dedicated worker. In fact, he's already employing techniques learned during an evening spent with the KU coaches this summer at the program's "Friday Night Lights" camp.

He's an extremely exciting prospect for Jayhawk fans to follow this fall. The Lancers appear to have an extremely intelligent receiving corps with solid size and exceptional hands. Combined with Darling under center, their offense is poised to become one of the most potent in Kansas City.


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