Photo by Gerald Castillo
Darling commits to Harvard Crimson
Jake Darling was bound to earn a football scholarship based on his work on the field. But his work in the classroom helped him receive one from one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
The San Marcos senior defensive lineman announced on Monday he was committing to the Harvard Crimson.
“It’s been kind of crazy imagining that I have this opportunity that I’ve been presented with,” Darling said. “It’s just been really amazing, like, I’m really excited about the next chapter and being blessed with this opportunity.”
Darling, who’s listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, registered 72 tackles while helping the Rattlers make their first playoff appearance since 2017 last year, posting a 5-6 overall record. He was voted to the All-District 26-6A Second Team after the season and received his first college offer in December from McMurry University, an NCAA Division III school.
But Darling said his parents have always stressed the importance of academics to him. Per his Twitter bio, he ranks 23rd out of his class of 484 students. So as he entered into the spring semester of his junior year and more D1 schools turned their attention to Class of ‘23 prospects, he began getting more looks — specifically from Ivy League institutions.
On April 4, he received a letter from Cornell assistant coach Satyen Bhakta expressing interest in him. That weekend, Darling took visits to both Dartmouth and Brown.
His stock continued rising as he attended several camps in both Texas and the northeast. Darling said Harvard didn’t really know about him until they saw him at Trinity University’s Elite Prospect Camp in San Antonio on June 10.
“The recruiting process was pretty tough for me. You know, it’s all about relationship-building, just kind of seeing where you land. And all the coaches, they want to see you in person,” Darling said. “I actually had a really, really good camp (at Trinity). So (Harvard) took that information back … and the head coach signed off on me because I had a really good camp.”
Darling received his first D1 offer from Texas A&M-Commerce on June 15. Brown offered him two weeks later. Harvard offered him on July 8 and Darling made his decision just 10 days later.
With the team being established in 1873, Darling will be joining one of the oldest football programs in the world with deep traditions. The Crimson has won three Ivy League championships in the last 10 years and most recently finished third in the conference, earning an 8-2 record.
Darling said Harvard’s coaches have already given him a few things to focus on for his last year of high school ball: They want him to gain 10 pounds, improve his explosiveness and speed and focus more on playing on the right side of the defense, where they envision he’ll line up one day.
The senior is excited to head to Cambridge, Mass. next year, where he plans to pursue a business degree.
“I’m really blessed that God has given me this opportunity to pursue an education and an athletic career at Harvard,” Darling said. “Hard work doesn’t really betray you … You’re getting compared to thousands upon thousands of kids across the nation. So really, to separate yourself from others, you gotta do what others aren’t willing to do.”