Retro Blue, Amara Darboh

IA WR Amara Darboh, listed at 6'2, 220, committed to Michigan back in December after methodically going through his options, which included a strong majority of the powerhouse schools in the midwest. He selected Michigan after narrowing his list down to five schools which included the Wolverines, hometown Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame. Certainly not shabby for a kid who got banged up a few games into his senior season.

Michigan first offered Darboh in March of his junior season, a timeline which seems almost foreign at a point when the staff has handed out over 50 offers to kids who haven't entered their junior year of high school yet. By the time his UM offer rolled around, the other four of his finalists had already offered. Darboh is a busy kid that also played basketball in the winter and track in the spring, so he had fewer chances to go out and visit than other prospects might. He narrowed down his list to the final five before the start of his senior year, and committed to Michigan in the beginning of December.

The most amazing thing about Darboh's story, however, does not come from the football field. I'd advise you to read the whole article, but a snippet from a Kyle Meinke article.

He entered this world Feb. 1, 1994, just as the civil war in Sierra Leone was beginning to escalate. More than 35,000 people died in his first five, war-torn years of life. His parents, Solimon and Kadita, were among them.

Solimon was a member of the military. Amara doesn't remember much else about either of them.After bouncing around Freetown, Darboh and members of his circle sought refuge in Gambia, then shortly in Senegal before finally securing a trip to the United States. They were among an estimated 2.5 million people who were displaced during the 11-year war -- or, almost half the country's population.

About 500,000 left the country all together.

A Christian group sponsored Darboh's clan, setting them up in a home in Des Moines, Iowa. Darboh, then 7, was cared for by his sister, Lovetta, who is 12 years older. Fourteen people lived in the house.

Life was hard for Darboh as a child as he adjusted to a new town, new people, new way of life. There was a language barrier.

He spoke Krio, a type of Creole language.

"I'd have to repeat words over and over and over for my teachers, so they would understand me," Darboh said. "It was frustrating. You think you're saying it right, but other people are like, 'Where are you from?'"

Grade school is difficult for those who stick out. That's especially so when you're a young African with broken English.

"There were times when I didn't know what to say to people," he said. "'Yeah, I'm from Africa, I just moved here a couple nights ago.' What else could I say?"

Again, take 10 minutes to read the whole thing. It'll be worth it, I promise.

So if we know what kind of person Michigan will get, what kind of football player can we expect Darboh to be in Ann Arbor? The mistake a lot of people make is seeing that Darboh is a big kid and assuming he's nothing more than a physical possession receiver, which simply isn't the case. His fellow freshman, Jehu Chesson, may have him beat in the athleticism category, but that should be more of a testament to Chesson than a shot against Amara. He looks a bit slow off the line of scrimmage, but sinks his hips and cuts well in and out of routes. That's one thing I really like about him-his lateral agility. He looks like a precise route runner, and once he gets into open field, he's also got good enough speed to be considered a game breaker. According to his coaches, he's been clocked at 4.42 in the 40 (2-3 fakes, IMO). He also flashes a good pair of hands and excellent body control.

All that talent could be put to use early on in his career, as well. The WR depth chart looks a bit like CB did at the onset of last year, where Countess was able to climb into a starting spot. The two starters seem to be fairly defined in Roundtree and Gallon, but there aren't many sure things behind them. A redshirt for Darboh seems out of the question, and he'll likely spell one of the two this fall. After that, I wouldn't be surprised to see him work his way into the starting lineup during his sophomore season and go from there. With relatively few glaring weaknesses in his play, Darboh seems like a low risk type of signee. A solid career is ahead, perhaps even at the next level.

So there you have it, folks. Darboh is a good kid forged from the hardest of circumstances. He's a well-rounded player and an even better player individual off the field, and he's playing a position where opportunity is abundantly available. Be prepared to hear Darboh's name called this fall, and throughout his career.

BONUS COACH AND PLAYER QUOTES.

From Hoke

"Amara Darboh, again, is another lengthy receiver out of Des Moines -- West Des Moines, Iowa. He's a guy that we thought could go up and get the ball. He had good numbers, if you want to call them that, when you look at speed and his length and everything like that.

Impressed early at camp

Amara Darboh earned rave reviews from teammates for his play Monday in the Wolverines' first fall practice. Senior receiver Roy Roundtree called him the best freshman of the day, regardless of position.

"He had a couple catches that shocked us," senior quarterback Denard Robinson said. "He competed today. You could tell he wants to play."

"He's really fast and strong," said Roundtree, who is rooming with Darboh during camp. "Amara, he just showed out today. I feel like he's really being comfortable. I told him, 'It's football, man. It's just a faster pace.' And he did it."

"I quizzed him last night to make sure he was on his Ps and Qs," Roundtree said. "He asks a lot of questions, but he did a great job.

"His head is spinnin', just like all the other freshman. Asking questions. But he's a great kid."

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