Jordan Darling's special relationship with the United States military has made him one of most traveled varsity quarterbacks in high school history. He is the son of Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Leslie E. Darling, whose military assignments have taken him from Missouri to Ohio, on to Texas, and finally to Kansas.
Given the option by his parents to remain at any high school he ever attended to pursue football, Darling instead choose to go wherever the Army assignments took his family, where he was forced to start all over again, time after time.
Last weekend, Darling played his final high school football game as his Shawnee Mission East team lost in The Opening round of the Kansas 6A state playoffs.
He leaves high school football as the only known quarterback in history to pass for over a thousand yards in three different states, as well as earning four varsity letters in four different states.
Darling’s 4,700 yards of passing and 48 total touchdowns have come against some of the best competition in the country. Twice in his career he has taken the field where the opposing team had seven future Division-I players starting on defense. His teams have faced the number-one ranked teams in Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Kansas.
Clearly influence by his faith and military family, Darling has remained both grounded and humble, with a great perspective on football and life.
"My mom had to oversee a ceremony in Afghanistan when over 30 Americans causalities were being loaded onto military aircraft. It was one of the hardest days of her life, and she had to keep it together and perform her duties," Darling expressed. “My dad is an Army veteran and was 15,000 miles away when she called him about this ceremony. It’s one of the only times I have ever seen my dad break down and cry. If you are from a military family you understand why."
Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is one of many coaches who have given support to the military, and he had an instant connection with the Darling family.
"If you ever go to the Woody Hayes Center at Ohio State there is a hallway dedicated to our military," said Darling's father, Bill, a retired military war veteran. "We were there when Jim Tressel first started putting things on those walls, and each time we visited he wanted us to see how much it grew. Tressel is someone who did a thousand things right as head coach of Ohio State, but if some people want to remember some mistakes he made that is up to them. I’ll choose to remember and appreciate all the kindness and encouragement he displayed to my son, wife and other military families."
"Charlie Weis, Mack Brown, Tressel and many other coaches have risk their own safety to visit our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," Darling added. "This is no small thing and it shows us there are great Americans everywhere who love and still appreciate this nation. This holiday season we really need to thank those who are going visit the troops. Our soldiers really appreciate all of these people who give of themselves in this way."
While still living in Texas, Darling received his first offer from the University of Kansas in February of his junior year. He accepted the Jayhawk offer, choosing Kansas over in-state rival Kansas State.
"Coach (Charlie) Weis has assembled a phenomenal coaching staff, and for the Kansas quarterbacks it doesn’t get any better than Ron Powlus." said Darling. "He’s someone a quarterback can trust. The Army uses the term "core values" and this program is being rebuilt at the core and that is a foundation for success. I have been to every home football game this season and this team doesn’t quit. I may not know much, but I know I want to be around people who won’t quit."
Darling with Powlus.