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 Decade: Seth Jacobs earns top seed for SLO County, followed by Laird, Mickey and Gaither
No. 1 Seth Jacobs vs. No. 8 Nick KimballUpdated
Arroyo Grande graduate Seth Jacobs is the No. 1 seed.
Jacobs, who went on to play linebacker at Oklahoma State, will face the No. 8 seed Nick Kimball, a former Nipomo High standout. Kimball played at Hancock College and the University of LaVerne.
Jacobs had an all-around standout career at Arroyo Grande, playing some quarterback, running back, receiver, linebacker and safety. He scored 22 career touchdowns while also making 344 total tackles with eight interceptions.
Kimball, the 2014 All-Area MVP, caught 31 touchdown passes over his final two seasons at Nipomo, with 21 of those coming in 2014 when the Titans won a CIF Southern Section title.
Jacobs led Arroyo Grande to its most recent CIF title, a Western Division championship in 2011.
No. 1 Seth Jacobs, Arroyo Grande, LB, S, RB, QB (2008-11)
Career accomplishments: 26 for 47 passing, 355 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs; 115 carries, 861 yards, 16 TDs; 28 catches, 520 yards, 4 TDs; 344 total tackles (251), 18 TFLs, 6 sacks, 8 INTs, 15 pass breakups, 3 fumble recoveries, 4 forced fumbles, 22 total TDs in career.
8. Nick Kimball, WR/DB, Nipomo (2012-14): 88 catches, 1,812 yards, 31 TDs (21 TD catches in 2014); 35 total tackles, 3 INTs. The 2014 All-Area MVP had 1,240 yards in receptions, and 21 touchdowns, as he helped lead Nipomo to the Southern Section Northwest championship. Also made 35 tackles that year. Had 572 yards in receptions, and 10 touchdowns, in 2013.
Player of the Decade: Seth Jacobs vs. Nick Kimball
No. 2 Patrick Laird vs. No. 7 Emilio CoronaUpdated
Mission Prep grad Patrick Laird, who also grew up in Arroyo Grande, is the No. 2 seed.
Laird piled up 4,551 rushing yards in his days with the Royals, scoring 50 touchdowns on the ground. He had 3,117 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior in 2013. He walked on at Cal and made the team, eventually topping 2,000 career rushing yards with the Golden Bears. He is currently in the NFL as a running back with the Miami Dolphins. He scored a rushing touchdown last season, the only player from the area to score an NFL touchdown last decade.
Laird will go up against No. 7 Emilio Corona, a 2020 graduate of San Luis Obispo High. Corona, a quarterback, led the school's recent resurgence, capturing 18 wins over two seasons. Corona accounted for 81 touchdowns over his final two campaigns.
No. 2 Patrick Laird, Mission Prep RB (2011-13) vs. No. 7 Emilio Corona, SLO QB (2017-19)
Laird's resume: 4,551 yards rushing, 50 TDs (3,117 yards rushing, 32 TDs as senior). Played running back at Cal. Currently on Miami Dolphins' roster. Only area player to score an NFL TD last decade.
Corona's resume: 281 for 508 passing for 4,635 yards; 56 TD passes, 21 INTs; 189 carries, 1,762 yards and 25 TDs; PAC 4 League MVP, Will play baseball at Washington.
No. 2 Patrick Laird vs. No. 7 Emilio Corona
No. 3 Bradley Mickey vs. No. 6 Matt AlbrightUpdated
Arroyo Grande grad Bradley Mickey is the No. 3 seed.
Mickey is currently a defensive back at Cal Poly. He was named the 2015 All-Area MVP as a two-way star with the eagles. He rushed for more than 1,200 yards and topped 1,100 receiving yards while also intercepting 21 passes on defense with 205 total tackles in his varsity career. He scored 31 total touchdowns and accumulated nearly 2,500 all-purpose yards.
Mickey will square off with the No. 6 seed Matt Albright, Nipomo's former quarterback.
Albright had two dynamic seasons at QB for the Titans, helping them win a CIF title in 2014 with Kimball at receiver. Albright threw 62 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons, topping 5,600 yards. He was named Northern League MVP in 2014 and landed All-CIF honors.
No. 3 Bradley Mickey, RB/DB/WR (2012-15) vs. No. 6 Matt Albright, Nipomo QB (2013-14)
Mickey's resume: 1 for 1 passing, 26 yards, TD; 132 carries, 1,244 yards, 15 TDs; 82 catches, 1,106 yards, 9 TDs; 3,484 all-purpose yards; 205 total tackles (129 solo), 3 TFLs; 21 career INTs for 284 yards, 38 passes defensed, 3 fumble recoveries, 4 forced fumbles; 31 total TDs. Nearly 2,500 all-purpose yards. The 2015 All-Area MVP. Saw significant playing time in the Cal Poly secondary the past two years.
Albright's resume: 62 career TD passes, 20 career INTs; Threw for 5,672 yards in two seasons; completed over 60% of passes (423 for 700); Northern League MVP in 2014. Won CIF title with Nipomo. Played at Hancock College and the University of LaVerne.
No. 3 Bradley Mickey vs. No. 6 Matt Albright
No. 4 Bailey Gaither vs. No. 5 Garrett OwensUpdated
Former Paso Robles great Bailey Gaither is the No. 4 seed. Gaither caught 41 touchdown passes with the Bearcats and also led that team to a CIF title in 2014 (where they beat Mickey's Eagles in the semifinals). Gaither has gone on to play at San Jose State, where he has over 1,500 receiving yards with the Spartans.
Gaither will face off with former Arroyo Grande standout Garrett Owens, who was a standout receiver and defensive back while also becoming one of the greatest placekickers the area has ever seen.
Owens topped 1,300 receiving yards while also making 160 total tackles and intercepting 10 passes for the Eagles. He also handled all kicking and punting duties there. He went on to play at Oregon State, where he became the Beavers' starting kicker. He transferred to Iowa State as a senior and earned the starting role there, too, making 17 field goals in his final college season.
No. 4. Bailey Gaither, Paso Robles WR (2012-15) vs. No. 5 Garrett Owens, Arroyo Grande WR/DB/K (2009-2011):
Gaither's resume: 2 for 3 passing, 54 yards, 1 TD; 63 carries, 396 yards, 6 TDs; 167 catches, 3,277 yards, 41 TD catches; 1,666 kick return yards; 5,546 all-purpose yards; 1 INT; 52 career TDs; won CIF Southern Section title at PRHS and named 2014 CIF Player of the Year. Entering sixth season at SJSU; 94 catches, 1502 yards, 14 TD catches at SJSU.
Owens' resume: 371 yards rushing, 4 TDs; 90 receptions, 1,363 yards, 12 TDs; 161 total tackles (149 solo), 10 interceptions; 134 touchbacks on 174 kickoffs; averaged over 35 yards on 61 career punts; 23 for 36 on FGs; 118 for 124 on PATs; Made 57-yard field goal. Kicked at Oregon State/Iowa State. Made 32 of his 45 career field goal attempts at Oregon State, with a long of 50. As a Cyclone, Owens was good on 17 of 22 FGs with a long of 45.
The Jacobs-Kimball winner will face the Gaither-Owens winner in the next round. The Laird-Corona winner will face the Albright-Mickey winner in the next round. Those winners will face off before squaring off with the Northern Santa Barbara County winner.
No. 4 Bailey Gaither vs. No. 5 Garrett Owens
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.
San Luis Obispo's football team went 2-18 in the two seasons before Emilio Corona took over the quarterback position in 2018.
Football players can put up some staggering statistics at the high school level. Often times a star running back also doubles as his team's to…
Surely Bailey Gaither loves his hometown of Paso Robles, but it looks like San Jose is growing on him as well. After all, Gaither is entering …
Scored first NFL TD in 2019 with Dolphins
Caleb Thomas' football career at Righetti High School feels like a movie script.
Garrett Owens was a solid offensive player during his days at Arroyo Grande High.
Anyone who flips on Toa Taua's freshman highlight tape at Lompoc High will see a No. 35 in blue that does not look or play like a freshman. F…
Russ Edwards coached Matt Albright during the quarterback's two seasons on the varsity level at Nipomo High.
Fenton Will was a highly-skilled football player during his days at St. Joseph.
Nick Kimball put together one of the most spectacular seasons by a wide receiver in Central Coast history in 2014.
Bradley Mickey led Arroyo Grande in receiving yards in 2015.
Every once in a while, a special type of player comes around.
The physical tailback known for his punishing running style once declared himself the 'YAC President' during his days at Lompoc High. He made …
In a lineup of the area's top football players of the past decade, Blake Truhitte will certainly stand out.
Dominance on a football field is, at times, hard to see.
Tom Goossen, who coached Arroyo Grande's football team to a CIF Southern Section title in 2011, once said Seth Jacobs would probably be his te…
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.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Orcutt Academy senior Josiah DeBruno had a (very) abbreviated 2020 senior track season. He is hoping to resu…
Fresno State or Cal State Bakersfield? For Santa Ynez High School senior wrestler Richie Sandoval, when it came to where he would continue his…
Eli Pellot is moving on from a decorated, and busy, career at Cabrillo High School.
After a decorated senior season in which she was an integral part of a history-making Orcutt Academy girls basketball team, Mariah Lopez hopes…
Ever since he was a child, Eric Ahler has been gazing into space through a telescope. "I've always liked learning about stars and space, and h…
Some of Mariana Tello’s illustrious athletic career at Santa Maria High School was spent on land. Some of it was spent in the water.
It had rained before the 2019 Santa Maria Christmas Parade. With all that moisture on the ground, “We were the only high school band that show…
A future first-generation college student, Righetti High School senior Emily Lopez had zeroed in on Santa Barbara City College as her school o…
Faith and family have always been most important to Ryan Morgan, and the Lompoc High School senior said family is a big reason why he will con…
Cabrillo High School senior Morgan McIntyre carries a 4.20 GPA, and she was accepted into every college she applied to. She was all set to con…
Pioneer Valley High School senior Lauren Carandang had known for awhile that she would continue her education at either UC Berkeley or UC San …
UC Santa Barbara or UC Irvine? That was the decision Santa Maria High School senior Doris Nogales felt she had to make as far as where to cont…
The Nipomo High School Female Senior Athlete of the Year will not have to commute far for the next stop in her respective academic and athleti…
Jake Steels seemed headed for an all-everything 2020 senior sports school year at Righetti High School.
Ayziah Simmons burst on to the Lompoc High School soccer scene as a freshman and quickly became a rising star. Trouble was, she was putting so…
Swimming has been a big part of Hancock College sophomore Izzie Fraire’s life since she was a child. “I’ve been part of the Santa Maria Swim C…
St. Joseph senior Janelle Brickey was all set to major in pre-earth science at UC Santa Barbara. Then, while watching an episode of a hit TV s…
Ernesto Gomez was a four-year track runner at Pioneer Valley and a varsity runner the last two - though his senior season, as everyone else’s …
For Valley Christian Academy senior Kathryn Eiler, there is a lot to like about Patrick Henry College. As far as Eiler is concerned, there is …
Since he was a fourth grader at Fairlawn Elementary School in Santa Maria, competitive running has been a big part of Jedric Callado's life. N…
“The apple doesn’t fall from the tree,” may sound like a cliche, but Lompoc High School senior Amy Bommersbach has made her career choice beca…
After an illustrious high school aquatics career, “I will be playing (NCAA) Division I water polo,” said Santa Ynez senior Henry Allen.
Christian Morin carries at 3.96 GPA at Pioneer Valley. He played "the big three" football, basketball and baseball, during his time there.
Most successful athletes have at least one thing in common — remarkable peripheral vision. Cabrillo High School senior Antoinette Terrones has…
William Jin was a mainstay for an Orcutt Academy boys tennis team that made it to the CIF Central Section divisional semifinals last year and …
Azusa Pacific, Jeremy Hicks decided, has several things going for it. Thus, that is where the Cabrillo High School senior Male Scholar Athlete…
Before his high school career at Santa Maria High School started, current SMHS senior Gilberto Mora set three goals for himself.
Cal Poly has a sound reputation as an agricultural school. Orcutt Academy senior Karli Lundberg hopes to go into the agricultural field. She a…
When it came down to where she will continue her education and athletic career, Santa Ynez High School senior Quincy Valle was in decision-mak…
St. Joseph senior Richard Gonzalez made sure his final high school year of wrestling would be his most fruitful one. The four-year high school…
As far as where to go to continue his education, Lompoc High School senior Oscar Rojas figured Yale had an unbeatable combination. “Ever since…
After playing four years of baseball at St. Joseph High School, the last two (well, counting a truncated senior season) on the varsity, Aden A…
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.