There truly is no offseason for football players anymore. The summer months are punctuated by 7-on-7 tournaments, recruiting camps, workouts and verbal commitments from the top prospects.
Northwestern High School running back Darius Victor certainly qualifies as one of those prospects. He ran for 1,133 yards and 18 touchdowns last fall en route to All-Gazette first team honors. He's had long looks from several Division I programs, attending camps this summer at Pittsburgh, Boston College, Temple. He's on Maryland's radar as well, but so far his only offers are from Buffalo and Howard.
Victor has split the summer between attending camps at various colleges and working out with the Wildcats, who this fall stand an excellent chance of clinching a playoff berth for the third time in school history and the first time since 2003.
“It's been two different lives,” Victor said. “But as soon as I come to practice it's all about Northwestern, all about the team. The ultimate goal is to win a championship. I know college will come. I'm a good enough player that I can find a school. It doesn't have to be Division I. That's the goal, though. Things will fall into place.”
Victor is a sturdy, muscled 5-foot-8 and 210 pounds. Though his compact size may seem like an obvious impediment to recruiting, Victor said he suspects the biggest factor working against him is his 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash. Most Division I programs want to see running backs go a couple of tenths of a second faster than that.
“I don't think it's my size,” he said. “I'm well built and small backs are in. It's my 40 times, but I play way faster on the field. I don't think it's measuring up to how good my game speed is.”
Northwestern coach Bryan Pierre offered a different opinion, saying that if Victor was 6-feet tall he'd have more offers.
“Being his height pushes the question mark for bigger schools,” Pierre said. “But the one thing I keep hearing back from college coaches is that they love the type of kid he is. At Temple, they said, ‘He's a kid we want in our program,’ but they're not sure how to use him. They pushed him to the defensive side to work out with the linebackers, and they were very high on him. He's a good character kid and he's going to work out wherever he ends up.”
Victor said he doesn’t mind the work on defense, adding that he has played both ways for most of his football life. He rarely came off the field last fall, also playing on special teams for the Wildcats.
While he’s “working individually to perfect my craft,” Victor said, the team's goals are never far from his mind.
“I know the school hasn't reached the playoffs in a while,” he said. “It would mean the world to the community. We're working hard to try to make the playoffs.”