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Signing Day: After a career spent coaching other people's kids, Edmond's Darren Huff sends his off to Air Force

RY HUFF — The Edmond Memorial senior signed with Air Force, where he'll play tight end or linebacker.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 1, 2012

EDMOND — Darren Huff sat next to his son and tried not to cry.

It wasn't exactly the hard-nosed, tough-guy look that the wrestling coach from Edmond Memorial High normally has.

Then again, this wasn't a normal day.

Huff's oldest son, Ry, signed a national letter of intent Wednesday morning to play football at Air Force. It was the fulfillment of a dream. It was the moment of a lifetime. And it wasn't only those things for Ry.

On a day that was big for hundreds of athletes around the state, it was every bit as significant for the parents who sat by their side.

“God blessed me with a good kid,” Darren Huff said. “I'm just thankful I didn't screw him up.”

Hard to believe that would be possible.

Huff has been coaching other people's kids for nearly three decades, basically since the day he finished his own athletic career. He was a two-time state champion wrestler at Perry High School — where they grow ‘em tough and strong — and then, he went on to wrestle at Central State, now known as Central Oklahoma.

He started teaching at Cimarron Middle School in Edmond in 1984 when he was right out of college. He took over as seventh grade football coach that same year, a job he still holds 27 years later, and became Edmond High's wrestling coach a few years after that.

Think of all the kids who he's coached in that time.

“He's had a huge impact on an enormous amount of students,” said recently retired Edmond Memorial coach and administrator Mike de la Garza, an institution in his own right.

Several of Huff's athletes have had big signing days. Kelly Gregg, who wrestled for Huff, played football at Oklahoma before a long career in the NFL. Johny Hendricks went to Oklahoma State where he won two national championships and launched a mixed martial arts career.

This signing day, though, was different.

“It's a lot tougher when it's your own,” Huff said. “He's accomplished a lot without me having to force stuff on him. I'm very proud of that. To be great, you have to be self-motivated and set your own goals, and he does that.”

Ry became football obsessed as soon as he started playing in fifth grade. He wanted to throw every day.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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