Last spring, Scout.com began to profile 2013 quarterback Jordan Darling, of Shawnee Mission (KS) East.
Over the last three years this young man has attended four different high schools, in four different states, in support of his mother’s military career. Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Darling was deployed to Afghanistan in April, 2011.
The player was given the option by his parents to remain at any of the high schools he has attended, but irregardless of how it might affect his recruitment, he chose to start all over and go wherever the military took his family.
Darling has met every challenge head-on, including playing against the number one teams in Missouri, Ohio and Texas in the past three years. This season, Shawnee East will face the Kansas defending 6A champions at mid-season.
“Jordan has faced so many changes in life and football,” said Bill Darling, the player's father. “He is so much like his mother. This past April, she ran the Afghanistan Boston shadow marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes, and when she finished she took a twenty minute break, changed her clothes, and ran another 26 miles, because that's who she is.”
“Jordan may fall down, and have set backs, but he keeps on going just like his mom," his father added. "He will get to where God wants him to be in football and in life.”
Jordan Darling is a 6-foot-5, 225-pound, rocket-armed quarterback, and he currently holds two BCS offers. Both Kansas and Kansas State have issued offers. The player credits his family for his success to date.
“My parents are my coaches in life," Jordan Darling exclaimed. "With a bag of a dozen footballs, my dad and I have found a fence, or a net, or whatever we could, so I could throw the football. It might be in the snow, the rain, or intense heat, but my dad has been there with me as I have thrown the football.”
“My dad has spent so much of his time with me, and he has taught me that it’s so important to work when other people aren’t working, and no one is watching,” he added.
The Darling family has been apart for over a year due to Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Darling's deployment to Afghanistan. But that changed on April 20, 2012, when the headquarters of the 1st Cavalry Division marched onto a parade field at Fort Hood, Texas.
They were greeted by family, friends and fellow soldiers with hugs, kisses, tears and smiles. Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Darling was one of those soldiers.
“My wife has experience and seen more than her share of grief and heartache caused by this war to both Americans and Afghans alike. We just all thank God she is home safe,” Bill Darling stated.
“No matter what she has been through she hasn’t lost her smile, and that’s something she has passed onto Jordan.”
“There were a few times over these last few years I thought they both might lose that smile," he added emotionally. "But they never did, and I admire them both for that.”
(Retired Colonel, and Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient, Bruce “Snake” Crandall, portrayed by Greg Klinnear in the movie “We were Soldiers…Once and Young”, awards the Bronze Star Medal to LTC Darling in Afghanistan this past April.)
To have his mother back in his life, and especially on Mother's Day, is a dream come true for Darling.
“My mom is my hero and I just thank God so much she is back safe," the younger Darling stated. "My emotions have been all over the board the past few years, and I can remember the sadness when we learned she was heading to Afghanistan. I'm a mama's boy, and I admit that, and she means so much to everyone, that it was a tough situation. I never got used to her being gone, so it's hard to put into words how I feel right now. The best way to put it is to say it's a dream come true, and an answer to prayer."
Darling has also adjusted well to being at Shawnee East, where everyone has made him feel welcome.
“Coach (Chip) Sherman, my teammates, my teachers, our administrators, my fellow students, and the entire East football community has welcomed me with open arms," he stressed. "I cannot thank them enough for that. There are over two million people living in the greater Kansas City area and that’s means some of the best high schools in the country are right here. You’ve heard that expression that you’re not in Kansas anymore. Well, I live in Kansas and I love it.”
The Sunflower state seems very fond of Darling as well, with scholarship offers to play football from both Kansas and Kansas State. With camp appearances coming soon, there could be more offers awaiting this gunslinger.
"These two offers are truly a blessing," the quarterback admitted. "I'm honored and humbled that these two great schools believe in me as a person and as a football player. I think the world of both programs."
The Darling family has been through a lot these past few years, and it’s refreshing to know that on Mother’s Day, this family has a lot to smile about and be grateful for.