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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
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Then in sixth grade, he started going to the gym every morning to practice kicking. Slowly but surely, he kicked further and further until one day a year or so later, his kicks started hitting the far wall that once seemed so far away.

“Just consumed with it,” his dad said.

The real treat came when the father got a chance to coach the son. Even though Darren now coaches Ry in wrestling, coaching him that first time in seventh grade football was special. Ry played wide receiver and defensive back.

What about quarterback, where Ry excelled this past season before breaking his thumb?

“He was my B team quarterback,” Darren said. “Shows you how much I know about football.”

He laughed.

“I probably enjoyed (that season) more than he did.”

Make no mistake, Darren Huff gets a kick out of coaching all the kids who come his way. All the high school wrestlers. All the seventh grade football players.

Here's how much he cares: he gathers up the kids at some point in every seventh-grade football game and says that anyone who hasn't played needs to line up behind him. Then he starts putting every one of them in the game.

This is the type of guy who you want coaching your kids.

That's obvious in the way he own son turned out. Ry, who is expected to play either tight end or linebacker for the Falcons, is as fired up about the academics at Air Force as the athletics. He wants to major in engineering, possibly the aeronautical kind.

“I've been interested in airplanes all my life,” he said, “so maybe designing airplanes is something really cool I'd want to do.”

That's the kind of thing that made his parents nearly burst with pride Wednesday. There were pictures taken and videos shot. There were hugs given and hands shaken.

And yes, there were tears shed, even by the bulldog of a wrestling coach.

“Coach Huff and Darren Huff are different people,” de la Garza said. “When you're coaching, you take on a persona that you carry, that you have to carry. But at home ... you get to be that other guy.

“He's a real soft-hearted family guy. He couldn't hide that today.”

Didn't seem to want to either.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
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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