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NFL Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Darrin Willingham, WR, Southern Oregon University

 

Darrin Willingham is a very solid possession receiver with good hands

Darrin Willingham is a very solid possession receiver with good hands

has been providing our readers Prospect Interviews over the past 3 years and this year we mixed things up a bit. Our questions are designed to give our readers a little more insight on the draft eligible player. We hope to bring you more than 350 interviews of NFL Draft Prospects this season. You will be able to track them all on the front page of our website in the banner to the right.  Now let’s meet our next prospect!!!!

What is your name? 

Darrin Willingham Jr. (DJ)

What is your Height/Weight? 

6’2” 207lb

What is your position? 

WR

Where do you play college football? 

Southern Oregon University

Football is about giving back, what is the coolest thing you have done off the field? 

When I was hurt I got a chance to coach a 5th & 6th grade youth team to a national championship and give them all the knowledge I knew from the game. It was such a great feeling seeing them skip the mistakes I made as a kid and become better athletes. Also through my business we give away free sneakers to the youth and homeless all the time. It is such a blessing to know that we can change someone’s life and continue to give them hope by simply giving them a new pair of sneakers.

What was the hardest college class you ever had to take? Econ

Where are you from? 

Portland, OR

Who is your role model, and why? 

My father. He has shown me what it is to be a man for a family and work for everything you want. How to take pride in your name and represent yourself and your family in the proper ways every day.

Did you play any other sports growing up? 

Basketball, Baseball, Chess, Bowling, Golf, Track & Cross Country.

Did you play any other positions in football? 

QB, DB, Safety, Punt Return, Kick Return, Punter, Any Special Teams & WR.

At your position, what separates you from others? 

Consistency and reliability. I play with physicality when needed and always want to make sure I’m holding my side down when it comes to blocking for my brothers. That gives them more trust in me. Everyone is great with the ball in their hands. What will you be without the ball in your hands?

When you are breaking down film, what do you look for?

Stance and start first. Then I like to ask myself “what were the other ways I could have approached this rout based on coverage?” Identify coverage. Then ask myself “did I do my job?”

Who was the toughest player you ever faced? 

To be honest… No one in a game. There was a player I’d go against every day at practice. His name was Jesse. He knew my ins and outs and I knew all of his also.  He was an all conference player that I think should be in the league right now. He just decided to give up football.

If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be and why? 

Everyone use to call me young Hines Ward and now they call me Crabtree.

What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it? 

Riding down the freeway with my teammates on our way to practice and the driver lost control of the truck and he flipped the truck 7 times down the freeway. I was rushed to the hospital and suffered from multiple blows to the body and severe head trauma. The doctor said I wouldn’t be able to be left alone for a year. I couldn’t function. Didn’t know how to brush my teeth or do anything. Had short-term memory loss and more. It was the hardest time in my life. I’d cry out of confusion trying to figure out why this happened to me and why I had to be stripped from the game I love. After a year of faith and consistent work toward my end goal things became bright for me and I was cleared to go back and play football again. I thought I’d never be playing again. Now that I’m back in action I’m ready to complete my goals and make it to the next level.

PrintDo you have any pre-game rituals? 

I’m constantly in prayer. I want out on the field and turn my slow jams on and take a slow walk up and down the field to get a feel for my playing surface. Then I go to the end zone and pray. Get back in the locker room and get ready. When we all come back to the field before kickoff I sprint down to the end zone again and pray for my brothers on the field and the opponents. Just asking for a healthy game and that we all go out there and enjoy the blessing we are given to play the game we love.

What is your biggest strength? 

Passion and persistence. I love being considered as the reliable receiver. The one that everyone calls on when the time are tough.

What is your biggest weakness? 

I’m extremely hard on myself and understand there always room for growth in every aspect in life. I like to pride myself in being solid at everything I do. My current focus in my football life is more consistency in my deep ball catching.

If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say? 

I am a young man that has been to hell and back that will never take a moment of life for granted. After almost losing my life in a car accident in 2013 it has given me a whole new appreciation for life, my family and the things I love to do. I’ll be sure to give you my all each and every day.

Who was your favorite player and/or NFL team growing up? 

I played QB all my life until college and Steve McNair was my favorite player. My favorite team is the Steelers though. My dad has that ingrained into my soul.

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would you choose? 

My grandmother. (passed away when I was in the 8th grade.), Michael Jordan, and Muhammad Ali

What will be the first big item you buy once you are in the NFL?

I don’t plan on the first big item. Those types of things come with time. I plan to invest into my family’s future first. My dad and I have this wager going on since I’ve been in high school, if I make it to the league I get to buy his first ever tattoo. He’s against tattoos so it’s going to be a huge thing for us yet inexpensive at the same time. There are a lot of things in life that have more value than money.

Rapid Answers

  • Who is Better: Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?
  • Who will win the Super Bowl this year? I’m a Steelers fan and my home team is essentially Seattle so if I could see them play each other in the Super Bowl that’s a win for me.
  • Who is Better: Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith?
  • Who will win MVP in NFL? They’ll never give it to a receiver but I wish it were AB.
  • Who is Better: Deion Sanders or Richard Sherman? 

 

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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