Since November, Dunbar wide receiver Dae’lun Darien had his heart set on playing football at Temple. After visiting the campus, he liked what he saw and committed.
His parents, however, wanted their son to be sure. They wanted him to see at least one other program, so he had something to compare with Temple, so last weekend Darien took an official visit to Penn State.
“They told me to make the decision that was best for me, but they wanted me to take the visit, because before that I only took one official visit, to Temple,” he said. “I wasn’t very comfortable about taking the visit [to Penn State] because all I really wanted to do was go to Temple, but to make my parents happy, I took the visit and I loved it. I loved everything about it.”
The 6-foot-4 Darien flipped his commitment to the Nittany Lions on Sunday and announced the decision on Twitter Monday morning.
He plans to sign his national letter of intent at Dunbar on Wednesday, national signing day when many other local football and soccer players will also sign to accept athletic scholarships from Division I and Division II NCAA programs.
From the moment he stepped on Penn State’s campus, Darien was impressed.
“When I first got there it was better than I expected. They had a video shoot that made me feel like I was the man,” he said with a laugh. “The video will be out signing day. They do that for all the recruits.
“Then we did the tour and they had some pretty nice buildings and the weight room was so huge. We could fit everybody in the weight room and I had never seen that before. They could fit the whole team in the weight room.”
Darien drew interest from several college programs, including Penn State, after his junior year, but he said the Nittany Lions wanted to see him improve during his senior year.
“My junior year, I was recruited but coaches wanted to see me do more and they told me that over the offseason coming into my senior year," Darien said. "My junior year film was good, but it wasn’t showing how I could use my body or showcase my skill set, because I was hurt last year. I was growing so fast my knee was bothering me, but I don’t have those problems anymore.”
In the first game of his senior year, Darien caught two touchdown passes in the first half and continued to be a top weapon for the No. 11 Poets (9-3), who reached the Class 2A state semifinals. He caught 45 passes for more than 600 yards and eight touchdowns last fall.
When his senior film came out, the first offer came from Temple and later that day, Old Dominion offered him.
A three-star recruit rated the No. 31 player in Maryland by Rivals.com, Darien also played defensive back for the Poets. He also plays basketball.
He said the most difficult part of his decision to flip his commitment was telling the Temple coaches he wouldn’t be an Owl.
“It’s really tough,” he said of making the decision to flip. “It was tough breaking it to Coach [Matt] Rhule and Coach Frisman [Jackson], but they understand. They said they’re still there for me. They didn’t really want me to take the visit [to Penn State], because they knew this would happen.”
In his Twitter announcement, Darien sounded almost apologetic to the Temple coaches:
"I would first like to thank God for all of the opportunities he placed in my life. I would also like to thank the staff at Temple University for being there for me and still supporting me even with the big decision I'm about to make. I have decided to de-commit from Temple and spend my next 4 years at THE Penn State University. I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported me through this whole process."
At Penn State, Darien believes he could get the chance to play next season.
“They just got a new [offensive coordinator], Joe Moorhead from Fordham University, their head coach, and he’s bringing his system and his formations to Penn State and that was a spread system similar to what we run at Dunbar,” Darien daid.
Darien, who said he has qualified academically, plans to major in sports marketing or in a field in which he can become a mentor to younger boys. He also might be interested in coaching.