Joe Gaiter: What does football mean to you?
Jamaal Darden: Football means a lot to me because it helped me make great friendships with some people that are going to be my lifelong friends. It also helped me get out of my shell before football. I stayed to myself and did not really talk to anyone. Football also helped me become a better man and I thank the coaches that I have had over the years to contributing to me becoming a better man. I know I cannot play football forever but I want to stay around the sport forever whether it is coaching or not.
Joe Gaiter: Where were you born and tell us about your childhood?
Jamaal Darden: I was born in Savannah, Georgia but I grew up mostly in Fayetteville and Hoke County. I had a regular childhood there is really nothing to talk about.
Joe Gaiter: Take us back to Hoke High School. What are your fondest memories?
Jamaal Darden: I do not have many memories at Hoke, but I remember being the first team to beat Richmond County in the school history. Now at A&T we are the first team in school history to go 12-0, so it seems like everywhere I go the team is breaking records.
Joe Gaiter: What made you choose NCAT as your school to continue your athletic and academic career?
Jamaal Darden: Well on my visit here it felt so much like family. It would be crazy for me not to come. The coaches were very genuine and the players that we met already seemed like my brothers. It just felt like home. I am so glad I picked A&T. I would not want to be anywhere else.
Joe Gaiter: How did your team remain undefeated all season?
Jamaal Darden: We worked like we never worked before. I knew we had something special when 40-50 of my teammates were showing up every day over the summer. Most of us did not even have a bed to sleep in but we made that sacrifice to be great and we always kept the doubters in the back of our mind. So many people counted us out because we did not have Tarik Cohen anymore and we wanted to prove them wrong.
Joe Gaiter: Going into the Celebration Bowl, most people counted your team out. How did it feel going into the game as the underdog?
Jamaal Darden: We were furious this made us even more hungrier they did the same thing in 2015. We were just wondering why we were the under dogs and we have not lost a game the whole season.
Joe Gaiter: Tell us about your shirt you wore under your jersey during the Celebration Bowl.
Jamaal Darden: Well, I had 2 good friends of mine that I lost on my shirt. One was Johnte, he was like a big brother to me and the other was Destiny she was like my little sister. Both of them had the biggest heart and always looked out for me. They are the ones I do it for.
Joe Gaiter: Looking forward to next year, will we see NCAT at next year’s Celebration Bowl?
Jamaal Darden: Of course we plan on coming back. It might be a little bit harder because we are going to get every teams best but we are up for the challenge.
Joe Gaiter: Is the 2019 Draft in the back of your mind?
Jamaal Darden: Not at all. I will start thinking about the draft more when it gets here.
Joe Gaiter: What is your major and what do you plan on doing with it once you graduate?
Jamaal Darden: I major in Sports Science & Fitness management. I plan on being a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach in the future.
Joe Gaiter: What is your motivation on the field?
Jamaal Darden: My main motivation is Johnte and Destiny the 2 people I lost that were close to me, but I also never want to let anybody down so I play for the coaches, my teammates, my parents, and everybody from back home.
Joe Gaiter: What are your strengths and weaknesses on the field?
Jamaal Darden: I never look at anything as a weakness. Things that I could improve on is mainly one on one coverage. I think my strength is just being out on the field with my other brothers.
Joe Gaiter: Final Words?
Jamaal Darden: I just want to say thank you for this interview. You had some great questions and I plan on talking with you again this time next year.
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