When asked to describe his background and family life growing up, Bing talked about how thankful he was for his mom and his family who always supported him and encouraged him to succeed in sports whether playing football or running track. Sports were an important part of his life from grade school through high school and on into college. It is a passion his brothers still share with him. Darnell's voice picked up with a level of appreciation simply addressing what his brothers were doing now.
"One of my brothers goes to Cal State Dominguez," said Bing with pride. " My other brother is a real estate agent, and he lives in Sacramento California."
The brothers were close growing up. "We were all that we had," said Bing of his family. The brothers still live close enough that they could get together on weekends to watch Darnell play for the Trojans. They supported his goal of trying to make the leap to the NFL. Although he doesn't see them as much, Bing appreciates the time together.
"They always come down on weekends so we always get together then," Bing remarked.
In high school Bing was a multi-sport athlete. He was part of the track team, an interest he carried from his younger days, but it was the football field where he earned his accolades. 2001 Parade All American, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American were just a few of the many honors Bing acquired.
"Those meant a lot to me," Bing remarked. "It's always a wonderful feeling to be rewarded for some of the things you have done in the sport that you love the most."
Indeed. Splitting time at running back and defensive back, Bing loved playing on both sides of the ball. The more playing time the better was how he looked at it. His success on defense and the ability to make big plays appealed to him.
"When I first started [playing football] I was a more of a running back," said Bing. "Since high school, I played mostly defense so I pretty much got the love of defense over running back then."
Track was another part of Bing's athletic life. Although by the time he became a starter on varsity, football rapidly took over as his favorite sport. He appreciated participating in track, because he says it helped him with speed. He claimed he kept at it to stay in shape.
"When there were long plays on the other side of the field, it helped me run the ball down," Bing commented about the benefits of running track. "It came in handy."
Bing is leaving USC with another year of eligibility remaining. Although he hasn't graduated yet, he plans on returning to get his degree in Public Policy, Management and Planning at the University. "Yeah, I plan on going back to finish," Bing acknowledged, but after football.
It is football first now for the Draft hopeful.
"I set a lot of goals for myself in the beginning of the season I felt that I accomplished pretty much everything I wanted," Bing said about his decision to leave early. "Then the support from my friends and family and my coaching staff that also helped me with my main goal that was to make the jump to the NFL."
Although some thought Bing might be a bit raw to leave USC and that his prospects would be better if he remained for another season, Bing felt it was time.
"A lot of people said it would be a good time [to leave early]. I also heard from a lot of people that it would be even better if I were to come back my senior year."
The decision has been made, and it's time for his NFL career to begin. Bing is a top 10 rated safety according to most draft publications. He is projected to be a first-day, likely in the first or second round selection.
"He probably won't make it past the fifth slot in the second round," said Bing's agent Jamal Tooson.
San Francisco is one of the teams expressing interest in the former Trojan. They also hold the fifth pick of the second round. According to Tooson the 49ers met with Bing prior to his pro day on April 2, 2005. The Patriots and the Panthers were two others to meet with the talented safety and a visit with the Steelers is currently in progress.
In his senior season Bing managed 50 tackles, two-and-a-half tackles for a loss, four interceptions for 119 return yards with six passes defensed and one forced fumble. He saw time on the kick off unit managing 5 returns for 143 yards (28.6 avg).
For more of this exclusive interview including what USC head coach Pete Carroll told Bing about his decision to leave school early, the feedback he received from teams at his pro day and what playing in the footsteps of Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu meant, see part two, Bada Boom: Q & A with Darnell Bing.
Jon Scott is a longtime contributor to Patriots Insider and member of the PFWA.
Bada Bing: USC safety catches Steelers' eye
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