The ultimate success or failure of any team begins up front. You must be able to run the football offensively while stopping the run defensively. You absolutely cannot consistently pass the football unless your quarterback is given the needed time via proper pass blocking. Nor - as a defense - can you sit back and give the opposition's signal caller all day to toss the pigskin to his receivers. If you have an offensive or defensive line capable of dominating the line of scrimmage, your chances of winning elevate like an express elevator in a skyscraper.
Those looking for help along the line might just want to meander down to Tallahassee in the fall of 2003. An offensive lineman, Calvin Darity is being touted early by those who follow the state's prospects. At 6-3 and 260-70 pounds, Calvin had a very nice season in 2002. His mobility and technique allowed him to finish with 28 decleaters, 20 pancakes, 0 sacks given up, and an 83% overall grade on his blocking.
Coach David Wilson believes that this is merely a harbinger of what is to come; "I think his best football is ahead of him."
What would lead him to say that?
Well, while many other young men have played tackle football for most of their lives, Calvin has not.
"I just started playing football in the 9th grade. I really didn't know much. I learned from coach, and he taught me really well. I just work at it so I can become better. I usually do a lot of technique work. We do film study for football class during the season to get a feel for our opponents. Then we take it out on the field so we get a good feel when we get in the game what people will do and how we can block them so we can be prepared."
When asked about his strengths, Calvin replied, "I fire off the ball really fast. My strength is the initial contact. If I can stun them before I start driving, it helps me out. I am not the most powerful man out there, but I am pretty quick off the ball."
Yet, given his neophyte status with the game, Coach Wilson sees room for improvement. "I would like to see him get stronger. I would like to see him bulk up a little bit. In my mind he can probably put another 40 pounds on his frame. His daddy is about 6' 7"."
Calvin wants to improve his strength and other areas as well, "I want to improve my drive block and my ability to jump to different levels to block linebackers and possibly safeties so I can help my running backs out. I know I can be better, there is always room for improvement."
Apparently, Calvin's drive for success also shows off the football field. His coach describes him as potentially a fine leader for this fall whose strengths are "his intelligence, his ability to understand and see the game, his dedication." Having already received a qualifying SAT test of 1100, Calvin works hard in the classroom. Unweighted his grade point average is a little above a 3.0. Weighted, it jumps to close to a 4.0.
Education will play an important role in master Darity's selection of a school. "I'm really trying to keep my options open. I don't have any favorites because I would go anywhere. I am not sure right now. If (a) school has a good math program - that would help its chances and possibly a good chemistry department. Those are the subjects I am interested in."
Like most young men, Calvin finds diversions in his spare time. "I like sports. I play basketball and track. I am a part of the Jack and Jill organization. We do community service. I am part of an academic club - the math club. It helps me out with mathmatics."
Calvin sounds like a fine young man who has his head squarely on his shoulders.
Coach Wilson observed, "He is a good natured kid. He has a good, solid
family unit with his mom and dad still together. He is always around. He is
committed to the program, committed to the team and to his teammates."
Calvin on his greatest disappointment: "We lost to Palm Bay in the fourth round of the playoffs. I think we should have won this year. We had the team."
He never played tackle football before 9th grade? - Coach Wilson - "He started as a sophomore on our state championship team."
What Calvin is most anticipating at college: "Just having fun and getting my education."
Calvin on his playing position in college: "I would like to play defense also. I like playing offensive line a lot. I would like to be a versatile player. I could learn what techniques a defensive line likes to do to an offensive line. It would make me a better offensive lineman."
Any date set for a commitment? "No."
Camps for this summer: "We usually go to ‘Down and Dirty Camp.' It is a lineman camp down in Lakeland (Florida). Anyone can come down there. Linemen coaches (from) all around the country come."