The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder had surgery to re-attach the ligaments by inserting screws in his foot, and his rehab progressed so quickly that he was able to practice during the '05 season. Team doctors were cautious about the foot, however, preventing Darity from playing that fall.
Darity entered the 2006 season with a mission to make up for lost time, and started all 12 games at right guard, playing every snap against Miami and South Florida. That live action gave him a better sense of how to prepare heading into his redshirt junior season this fall.
"I'm definitely more knowledgeable about defenses and what not, and more experienced on how to play and how to move when I'm playing against different kinds of defensive linemen," Darity said. "And I definitely think from last year to this year, I'm a little bit better at studying the playbook and film a little more.
"Last year, I was just going in to play. I was looking at film, but I wasn't really looking at it, and this year, I'm really keying in on what defensive linemen do and what defenses do. That experience really helped me to become a better player."
Head coach Butch Davis told reporters on UNC's Media Day last Friday that he expects as many as 10 offensive linemen to play this season. With Darity's clear understanding of how injuries can affect the sport of football, he believes that number can only be seen in a positive light.
"Say, God forbid, if I do get hurt, then my back-up [redshirt freshman] Alan Pelc has got to go in, and he's got to play at the level that I play at," Darity said. "We can't miss a beat when we're playing, so I think having a whole bunch of other linemen rotate in for the first five will be a great asset because it can help us get a breather and come back in fresh when the defense is out there not subbing in anybody and getting tired."
Darity said he may have the option to request a medical redshirt for the '05 season, but noted that at this point he is just focused on helping his teammates to a winning season in '07.