Former Conway High School quarterback Dakota Derrick admits there were times over the last four years where doubt set in and he at least wondered if a change of scenery and a fresh start might do his college football career good.
Instead, he stuck it out at Furman – through various shuffling of the depth chart, through a coaching change and through four seasons in which he threw a total of 58 passes. And that patience has finally paid off for the fifth-year senior.
In his final collegiate season, Derrick has taken over as the team’s starting quarterback and will be facing a familiar foe this Saturday as Coastal Carolina travels to Greenville for an instate clash with the Paladins.
“You have thoughts that run through your mind – what would it be like if I was at a different place? – but for the most part I’ve enjoyed my time here at Furman,” Derrick said, speaking over the phone about his career to this point and the opportunity now in front of him.
“It’s a great school. I’ve loved the players. I’ve loved the coaching staff. I love the environment, and it’s a top-notch education essentially I’ll be receiving for free. There were times, obviously I’m a competitive person, [that] I wanted to be playing. I sort of weighed my options, but I’m glad I’m where I’m at. I’m glad I chose to stay, and I couldn’t be any happier.”
That said, he wasn’t too pleased with the outcome of Furman’s season-opener last week as the Paladins lost 24-21 to Samford.
Derrick finished 11-of-25 passing for 201 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, but Furman head coach Bruce Fowler was not discouraged by the performance, noting the third interception came at the very end of the game on a fourth-and-10 throw.
“Dakota had a couple of plays that he would like to get back, but overall he did a pretty good job,” Fowler said. “... He handled the offense well. We had one procedure penalty, but other than that no problems with the clock. He got us in good plays and things, so Dakota’s off to a pretty good start. We’ve got to fix a couple of things, but we’re excited about the progress. He’s had a great preseason, had a very good spring practice, he’s gaining confidence and he’s going to be a good leader for us this year.”
At Conway High, Derrick passed for 4,882 yards and 49 touchdowns in two seasons as the Tigers’ starter, and he has some recent familiarity with the Chanticleers as well after completing 3-of-9 passes off the bench when the Paladins played Coastal at Brooks Stadium last September.
New CCU head coach Joe Moglia wasn’t around to watch that game, but he said he was impressed with what he’s seen on film from the 6-foot-4 signal-caller who made two starts as a junior and played in six games off the bench last year while waiting to take the reins of the offense.
“I thought he did a pretty good job of running the ball when he had to,” Moglia said in reference to the Paladins’ season opener. “I thought he did a pretty good job of play-action. Not so much just pure dropback, but play-action when he was in the pocket or play-action when he was attacking the perimeter, he was pretty effective. I wouldn’t underestimate him at all.”
After all, it’s taken him five seasons to get this opportunity and Derrick feels he has something to prove.
“This is my fifth year,” he said. “I’ve put in the time, I’ve been preparing myself mentally and physically and emotionally. I’m ready to lead the team, and it’s nice to be able to get out there and compete and play and show everybody what I can do.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.