"I don't know if it was because his high school didn't promote him or what, but there was some pretty good high school football at that point in Cleveland. Yet he wasn't one of the 10, 15, 20 guys who showed up when you started talking about the best players in the city at that time."
Talley redshirted his first year and was a starter by his third game. In his third start, he made 11 solo tackles in a win against Virginia Tech -- a career-high. He finished with 83 tackles as a freshman and had 127, 139 and 140 in his final three years.
"You didn't have that many guys coming off the corner as quick as he did at that time," Luck said. "It was hard on offensive tackles to respond to that. And Darryl was a great athlete, too. Not just as a football player. I remember playing pickup basketball and he was so strong. He just had a natural strength.
"Once he got in the weight room and put on some weight, he became something else. I had a pretty good sense by the time I was a senior and he was a redshirt junior that he had a chance to play in the NFL."
Talley would not let himself be so easily convinced. He constantly compared himself to peers at his position. Talley not only tracked what other linebackers and great defensive players did from week to week, but he challenged himself to be better.
"I looked at them and said, 'I'm not going to compare myself to you. I'm going to outplay all of you. I'm going to show you and prove it to you by outplaying you,'" he said. "I looked at the stat lines and I tried to outplay Delbert and Hugh Green and Rickey Jackson. If I could outplay those guys, then I knew I was doing something good."
Talley was a premier player by his senior season. In 1982 he had 93 solo tackles, two interceptions and seven sacks, all career highs. He made 15 tackles and three tackles for a loss against Boston College in one game and harassed Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason on a potential game-winning two-point conversion play to force an incomplete pass and preserve another win.
That came a game after WVU opened its season with the historic win at No. 9 Oklahoma. The Mountaineers later lost 16-13 to Pitt, which was then No. 2 in the country, but Talley, who never beat the Panthers, was not to blame. He played all over the field on national television and scored the team's only touchdown with a blocked punt and the return.
"I tried to do everything in my power to beat the University of Pittsburgh and Dan Marino and I couldn't do it," he said. "I couldn't get it done. I blocked a punt. I intercepted a ball. I made 20 tackles or so in the game. I tried everything and it didn't happen. It was one of those games I had a lot of fun in, but it didn't go so well for me."
For some time the same could be said of Talley's college career and his candidacy for the Hall of Fame. He left WVU in 1983 and had been out of the NFL since 1998 while satisfying all of the college hall's requirements. Every year, though, the call never came.
Everything changed Tuesday.
"It's a big deal for me," he said. "You think about how many millions of kids play and hope to get in college athletics. What percentage is it of kids to go there and to do this? It's truly a great honor. It's a great, great opportunity and I'm grateful for it. I understand everyone is going to say, 'You won't get the magnitude of it until you actually get on the stage.' As I sit back and think about the numbers, it's pretty remarkable."
ALSO EARNING induction into the Hall of Fame are former Ohio State running back Eddie George (1992-95), wide receiver Carlos Alvarez (Florida, 1969-71), defensive tackle Doug English (Texas, 1972-74), fullback Bill Enyart (Oregon State, 1966-68), defensive tackle Marty Lyons (Alabama, 1975-78), defensive tackle Russell Maryland (Miami, Fla., 1986-90), defensive back Deion Sanders (Florida, 1985-88), defensive back Jake Scott (Georgia, 1967-68), offensive guard Will Shields (Nebraska, 1989-92), quarterback Sandy Stephens (Minnesota, 1959-61), halfback Clendon Thomas (Oklahoma, 1955-57), defensive lineman Rob Waldrop (Arizona, 1990-93) and wide receiver Gene Washington (Michigan State, 1964-66).
Coaches earning induction are Lloyd Carr (Michigan, 1995-2007) and Fisher DeBerry (Air Force, 1984-2006).
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.
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(c) 2011, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.
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