FORT WAYNE – When its all said and done, and the years of pushing human beings from within the football trenches are a distant memory, Saint Francis senior center Brice Darling wants to teach mathematics.
Go figure; which is precisely the objective.
I want to coach, and get into that; and Im pretty good with numbers, Darling said. Theres also a big market for it. There arent a whole lot of math teachers out there that are unemployed.
So not only does he understand the Xs and Os of football, hes got a firm concept on the Xs and Ys of advanced algebra and secant trigonometry.
He makes the entire line smarter, offensive line coach Trevor Miller said of Darling. You can have players on the line who arent as intelligent if your center can set the protections, set the scheme. Basically he connects both sides of the line. What he does is he puts you in a position to execute your schemes.
With three capable quarterbacks returning this season, a stable of quality running backs and a plethora of wide receivers, the Cougars came into 2012 well-stocked in the skill positions. The area of concern was the offensive line, since one starter from last season returned.
And it wasnt the 6-foot-3, 271-pound Darling, who was a backup to three-year starter Wyatt Tuggle.
Ive played the position my whole life, so its not anything different for me, Darling said. Ive been second string for what, four years now? Its been pretty natural. Ive had to become more vocal, and Im not really a vocal guy. Im a pretty smart guy, I think, so I think its been pretty natural.
The group of starting linemen, along with their backups – and their backups – rang up 627 yards of total offense in the Cougars last encounter, which was a 76-14 pasting of Concordia, Mich.
And in the center of it all – quite literally – was Darling.
The lopsided win took the sting out of a home loss to Saint Ambrose two weeks earlier, when the Cougars scored 14 points and lost by a point.
A bye week ensued, followed by the week of preparation for Concordia.
These past two weeks have definitely been a huge improvement for us, Darling said. We just went back to straight basic stuff, trying to jell as a unit. Like we said the other day, youve got five people. If one person doesnt do their job, we all fail. For a lot of people – four out of five on a test – thats 80 percent. Thats a pretty good grade. But for us, thats failing.
Darling is being humble. Eighty percent, for him, is not the norm.
He is a math whiz, Miller said.
He takes a lot of interesting classes. He spends a lot of time taking upper-level math courses that I dont think most people would do very well in. Hes pretty much a straight-A guy. I dont know how many Bs hes gotten, but there havent been many. His GPA is 3.89.