March 2, 2001 - by

Darling Remembered As Special Teammate

March 2, 2001


By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press Writer


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said Thursday
he
was thankful to have Devaughn Darling on the team, if only for a few months.

“It was a blessing we will never forget,” Bowden told nearly 1,000
mourners at a memorial service. “Life is like a vapor, it’s here and then
it’s
gone.”

Darling, 18, died Monday after a strenuous offseason workout with
teammates
– including twin brother Devard – at the school’s football complex. An
autopsy
Tuesday did not reveal a cause of death and it will be at least another
month
before lab tests are back that could help the medical examiner determine why
the freshman died suddenly.

“We ask why … why?” Bowden said, speaking behind a podium decorated
with
a garnet and gold floral arrangement of Darling’s uniform No. 53. “God
must’ve
wanted another angel. And he got one.”

Darling’s family and teammates were at the service with hundreds of
other
students and teachers in an auditorium brightened with flower arrangements
from
the universities of Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Clemson, where
Bowden’s son Tommy is coach.

Linebacker Brian Allen, one of the Seminoles’ captains last season,
said the
tragedy gives everyone another chance to become better people.

“It reminds us to tell other people we love them and that they matter
in
our lives,” Allen said. “Tell them every chance you get. You may not get
another chance.”

Team chaplain Clint Purvis shared with the audience portions of a
letter
Darling was given by his mother, Wendy Smithe of Houston, the day she
dropped
the twins off at Florida State last summer to begin their college careers.

“I will surely miss the prayers, hugs and kisses,” the note read. “You
have been a well mannered child.

“I know God has blessed you and Devard. Do not forget the presence of
the
Lord,” she wrote. “Mommy is very proud of you.”

Purvis then asked the players to rededicate themselves to the Lord and
look
out for Devard Darling.

“It’ll be your responsibility to carry his burden,” Purvis said.

Bowden said he will re-evaluate the offseason conditioning program,
known as
“mat drills.”

“The circumstances of this one … make everyone do a little
soul-searching,” he said. “We’ve got to do whatever it takes, but not at the
risk of a life.”

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