Brett McMurphy

Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey gets the most out of every day

by Brett McMurphy November 02, 2009 in Football


Kansas senior Darrell Stuckey laughs when he remembers what he was thinking when he first arrived on the Lawrence, Kan., campus five years ago.
“When I first got here, I wasn’t going to do anything but football and school,” Stuckey said.
Stuckey said he had friends who went off to college and flunked out after one semester. He wasn’t going to make that same mistake.
“I was not going to get involved in anything until I figured out how to do things academically,” he said.
That first semester at KU, Stuckey wasn’t doing anything. Now, he’s doing everything.
He volunteers weekly for the Kansas Special Olympics. He serves on the Executive Board of the Jayhawk Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, serves as one of three student-athlete representatives on a committee designed to provide advice and recommendations on athletic matters to the Athletics Board of Directors and to the Chancellor.
He also ran and was elected by the student body in April to serve as a Student Senator in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
He also works with the KU Endowment, the university’s fundraising department, the KU Alumni Association and countless other community organizations.
“It’s kind of weird,” Stuckey said. “I can’t explain it.”
KU associate media relations director Mike Strauss can.
“He’s absolutely amazing,” Strauss said. “He’s an inspiration for everybody. He’s the most positive person you’ll ever meet.
“He’s probably involved in too many things. Holy cow, when do you breathe? He’s involved in everything.”
Stuckey also is involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Inspirational Gospel Voices. He helped establish a policy that bars in Lawrence are required to provide free water or soft drinks for designated drivers to help reduce individuals driving under the influence. It shouldn’t come as a shock that Stuckey is among 10 finalists for the prestigious Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
“I never overload myself,” Stuckey said. “We have more time in the day than we think we do. I’ve seen the benefits of helping people in community services. The last thing I want to do is sit in front of the TV after football practice. I feel like I’ve wasted a day by doing that.”
Kansas coach Mark Mangino doesn’t expect Stuckey to slow down anytime soon.
“When he’s about 35, 40, he’s gonna smoke somebody in a governor’s race,” Mangino told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Although he currently is a student senator, politics is one area Stuckey doesn’t think he’ll pursue after college.
“There’s too much of good and evil with a politician,” Stuckey said. “It’s not a goal right now.”
Stuckey graduated last May in communications and is pursuing a second degree in African American studies.
“The only thing that’s certain about my future plans is I want to be a motivational speaker,” Stuckey said. “I want to be as well rounded as I can. College is when you’re supposed to be nurturing yourself and preparing yourself.
“You can’t put all your eggs into one basket, like football. I’m putting my eggs in different baskets. I want to be successful regardless.”
A four-starter at safety for the Jayhawks, Stuckey was named All-Big 12 last season. He’s played a big role in the Jayhawks’ 5-2 start.
He’s also come a long way from Kansas City, Kan., where he grew up in a single-parent home. To help his mother with the bills, he worked as a waiter at a Holiday Inn his senior year in high school.
As difficult as it’s been at times for Stuckey, he said spending time working with the Special Olympics puts everything into crystal clear perspective.
“It’s a wake-up call,” he said. “Football players always are complaining about injuries and then you’re put in front of someone that can’t even make a decision to run because their legs are impaired. They can’t complain about this or that, they’re just happy to walk. Soreness is good for them because that means they can feel the muscle.
“To see them smile and have fun is refreshing. You realize how ungrateful and how much more you can get out of life if you accept yourself for who you are.”
Perhaps it’s not surprising Stuckey was voted by his teammates as their nicest teammate. However, don’t take that as a sign of weakness. He also was voted the team’s second-most competitive player and is rated as the top strong safety prospect in this year’s NFL Draft by