Darius Cummings was one of the hardest workers on the Dublin Coffman High School football team, but he wasn’t seeing much playing time.
Because the 5-foot-6, 199-pound Cummings was stuck behind a logjam of talent at running back, the coaching staff thought there might be a spot for him on the defensive line. That hunch paid off as the senior has spent most of the last two seasons clogging up running lanes.
“We were trying to find a good position for him, and he is so explosive that we decided to try him on the defensive line,” defensive coordinator Curtis Crager said. “He did an awesome job.”
Cummings would rather be carrying the ball, but getting regular playing time has helped change his mind. Through five games, he has 21 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery. He returned the fumble 8 yards for his only varsity touchdown in a 49-0 win over Brantford (Ontario) St. John’s College on Sept. 8.
“I prefer running back, but I’ll go wherever I can help the team out,” Cummings said. “One day at practice, coach (Mark) Crabtree told me to go down and start working with the defensive linemen. He knew I was very aggressive in practice, and I go full-effort. He knew I was an athlete and that I wanted to contribute to the team anyway I could.”
Cummings made his debut on defense in a 35-0 win over Olentangy in Week 4 last season. He finished the season with 47 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also had his only varsity carry at running back against the Braves, gaining 16 yards.
“We plugged Darius in at Olentangy (last season) and he’s been a spark for us ever since,” defensive line coach Tim Farrell said. “He’s fast, he runs hard, he’s physical and he plays the part in terms of being an all-around football player.
“He’s a thick, strong kid and when he goes into an offensive lineman, he can hold his ground. He uses his speed and agility to his advantage.”
Crager said Cummings’ physique is an asset on the defensive front.
“Darius has such a great low center of gravity, he’s got great body awareness, great body positioning and he’s so quick,” he said. “Some of the linemen just can’t get their hands on him, which is so beneficial for what we do. He has such great leverage.”
The Shamrocks are coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since 2015 when they lost to Fairfield 28-7 and Hilliard Davidson 31-0 in Weeks 3 and 4.
Coffman lost to Olentangy 31-14 on Sept. 15 and Gahanna 34-32 on Sept. 22 to fall to 3-2. The Shamrocks hope to get back on track Friday, Sept. 29, at home against Marysville to begin OCC-Central Division play. The Monarchs are 2-3.
“Probably the most difficult part of the game is trying to bounce back from a loss,” Cummings said.
“You have to realize the mistakes that you made in the previous game and learn from them. You need to look forward and try not to make the same mistakes again.”
Cummings has a 3.8 GPA and plans to major in sports management in college. He wants to play football at the next level, but has not decided on a school.
“I love football because the whole team becomes like your family,” he said.
“Just coming out every day and seeing all my teammates is great. They are like brothers to me and it feels good whenever I’m around them. There is no other sport like football. You can release all of the stress you have built up right away.”