Oklahoma Sooners senior Ty Darlington has been the ultimate example

Center's leadership has helped Sooners more than his play

Being a leader has always been a part of Ty Darlington's  DNA. Ask some and it might be the biggest contribution that the Oklahoma Sooners senior center has made.

He’s been criticized at times for his play on the field, but his leadership off the field has been a big reason for Oklahoma’s success this past season. It might have been the biggest impact that Darlington could have made.

He said last week that being a leader is natural for him.

He was named an academic All-American and won the Campbell Award, given annually to the top scholar-athlete in the country. Darlington was front and center after the loss to Clemson, during the SAE video incident in the spring and when Oklahoma was stunned by Texas.

Darlington has been Oklahoma’s constant leader.

“The absolute example,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s led with the way he works and what he says and the way he communicates, listens to others. Ty has been exceptional. . . .  It’s so special. We’re so appreciative of the leader that he’s been but excited too that he’s had such a great career.”

Darlington learned from former Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard and has expressed a desire to teach leadership to the young members of the Oklahoma offensive line. Darlington, who has started the past 24 games, has pointed directly to guard Jonathan Alvarez at times as a future leader, he said Orlando Brown could be a “beast” and believes that Dru Samia could be one of the best linemen in program history.

It’s not just because of his leadership, but Darlington’s presence more than his talent has helped push Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff.

“We saw a team come together in a way like I have not been a part of in the past,” Darlington said. “That's what gives me the most pride is seeing the adversity the team's fought through and seeing the way we've come together not just since Texas but since Dec. 29 of last year.”

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