When thinking of Texas Tech's Air Raid offense, several things come to mind- huge offensive linemen, tiny slot receivers (or as Mike Price would say, "rugrats"), and big outside receivers, such as Jarrett Hicks, Joel Filani, and Bilitnekoff award winner Michael Crabtree.
Though Tech didn't ink an outside receiver in last year's class, they have their eye on a few in this year's class, one of whom is Keller (TX) Central product Jarrod Darden.
Though Darden, who stands at 6-foot-5, 208-pounds (verified at a Rivals event),has garnered attention for his lanky frame, he is more just a big body, as is evidenced by his latest area of athletic conquest: track and field.
"I'm just running whatever my coaches as me to," he said. "I'll be doing high jump for sure and I think they want me to do triple jump as well. So I'll be running the 200 and maybe some relays and then doing the jumps."
Just how athletic is Darden? At his team's first meet, inclement weather forced the cancellation of all field events, leaving Darden with an open spot due to his jumps being cancelled. So what did his coaches do?
"Well, the weather was real bad, so they cancelled all the field events," explained Darden. "So I ended up doing my normal running events and then they stuck me in the 100, which was the first time I'd ever done that. That was crazy."
Another area of his life that could be characterized as crazy is recruiting, where Darden's stock is shooting through the roof.
"It's going very good right now," said Darden. "I visited Lubbock two Saturdays ago for their junior day. I liked that a lot and had a lot of fun. I'm getting a ton of mail from Tech, Texas, and Texas A&M, and I was supposed to go to OU and Oklahoma State's junior days, but I didn't make them, and then North Carolina and Purdue are recruiting me pretty hard too."
Darden says there were more than a few things that stood out about his visit to Lubbock, including a conversation with Mr. Crabtree.
"I got to talk to the coaches and I also got to talk to Michael Crabtree, which was cool," explained Darden, who is also a standout basketball player. "He was telling me why he picked Tech and everything and said that he knows a lot of people who wished they had gone there to be a receiver too."
The star junior, who hauled in 14 touchdowns last season, says Tech's offense is what lured Crabtree to Tech, and appeals to him as well.
"I mean, if you're catching 8-10 balls a game, why wouldn't you want to go there," he asked rhetorically. "I was aware of that already, but he said that too. He said he knows people that are receivers that went other places and wished they'd gone there, because, f you're a receiver, why would you need to go anywhere else?"
The fact that Darden has attracted the amount of interest he has, despite his team posting a 1-9 record last season, is a tribute to his tantalizing blend of skill, size, and raw athleticism. Though he only holds written offers from North Carolina and Texas Tech at this point, expect that number to grow substantially in the coming weeks and months.
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