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St. Joseph receiver Darien Langley commits to play football at West Point
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St. Joseph receiver Darien Langley commits to play football at West Point

Darien Langley made a decision Wednesday.

It was not a difficult one to make.

Langley, a class of 2021 receiver for St. Joseph High School, announced he has committed to Army to play football.

Langley, a dynamic 5-foot-8, 165-pound play-maker, says he'll play on offense and special teams under head coach Jeff Monken at West Point, New York.

Having the chance to play for a program like Army and attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was too good to pass up, Langley said.

"I’ve liked the idea of going there ever since they offered me," Langley said Wednesday. "They have so much to offer at West Point. I love the idea of being very close to my teammates and that’s how they run their program."

Monken and the Black Knights employ a triple-option flexbone offense. Langley likely fits in as a slotback or a receiver in that offense.

St. Joseph coach Pepe Villasenor has used Langley as a primary receiver and a change-of-pace running back over the last two years.

"They want to use me as a weapon and let me use my speed In the run game," Langley said.

Langley was undeterred from the military angle of joining Army for football. Cadets typically enlist in the Army for five years after graduating from the Academy, though there are new rules to defer enlistment if a professional football opportunity is available.

"I feel good about the military aspect. It’s always good to give back to the country I live in," Langley said. "A lot of my dad's side has been in the Army so I am a little familiar."

Though the decision to go with Army wasn't a difficult one, he did have other options. Langley is a three-star recruit according to 247 Sports. Army was his lone offer, though "UC Davis was recruiting me heavily," Langley said.

"Davis is a great school but I felt better about Army," he added, saying coach Saga Tuitele handled his recruiting at Army. Tuitele is the offensive line coach at Army. He also held that role at Cal Poly for seven years.

Langley said working with Tuitele was a positive process in his recruiting.

"The coaches were very informative and supportive during it," he said, adding that he's ready for the Military Academy lifestyle. "I finished this last semester with a 4.0, and, yes, they had to make sure they were recruiting a good person off the field."

Army has gone 26-13 over the last three seasons and 40-36 in six seasons under Monken. The Black Knights won 10 games in 2017 and 11 games in 2018. Army plays a freelance schedule as an FBS program at college football's highest level.

Army made three straight bowl games from 2016-18. They went 5-8 in 2019.

Langley now has the opportunity to join that program, one that features the rich history of multiple national championships and three Heisman Trophy winners. Though Langley, who's also the area's top sprinter, is certainly talented, he said it was something else that helped him reach the threshold of major college football.

"I got in a habit of working hard since I was young," he said. "But I also had a great group of people who have helped me through it all."

Still, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Langley is unsure of when he'll be on the football field again. St. Joseph was slated to start its 2020 season Friday, Aug. 28 with a game against Bakersfield Frontier, though it's unlikely that game will happen as scheduled.

"We don’t really know" when the season will start Langley said,  adding "I’m just hoping sooner than later."

Player of the Decade: We're looking for the top player of the last 10 seasons

The sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News is looking for the top football player from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County over the last 10 seasons of high school ball.

See who our nominees are thus far.

Senior Spotlight Series: Celebrating the area's top senior student-athletes

Our 'Senior Spotlight' series is aimed at highlighting senior student-athletes who have had their final year of high school disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The athletes featured here were their school's nominee for Athlete of the Year or Student Athlete of the Year for the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table's end-of-year banquet that has been canceled due to the outbreak.

Running the anchor leg in the 4x100 relay at a Central Coast Athletic Association Meet on March 11, Langley took the baton with a three-meter deficit and turned it into a split-second victory, racing past some of the fastest kids in the area to give his team the win.

A few days later, though, the St. Joseph junior saw his season put on ice.

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