Ronald 'NITRO' Darby Prepares for Takeoff

Jim SheridanCorrespondent IApril 24, 2011

Ronald Darby
Ronald Darby

Ronald "Speedy Lightning" Darby is the fastest prep football player in the nation, and is also the No. 1-rated 5-star cornerback in the country. Darby, who comes to Notre Dame out of Potomac HS in Oxon, Maryland, was clocked at 4.31 at the Under Armour All-American combine, putting to rest any doubt about who held the speed title.

Ronald Darby is so fast that when he goes out running for an hour, he gets home in 45 minutes—that's fast.

I asked Darby, who coincidentally wears No. 25, if his number was in tribute to former Notre Dame speedster Rocket Ismail. "I used to wear No. 7 when I was a kid," Darby said. "When I got older number seven was taken so I switched to 25, you know two plus five." Darby did say that he has watched film of Ismail's returns and was impressed with what he saw.

When Darby arrived in South Bend last weekend for the Blue & Gold game, he brought with him 33 offers from all the heavy hitters. He left verbally committed to Notre Dame.

"It was beautiful," Darby said of the Notre Dame campus,"The traditions, the fans, the coaching staff, everything was great—it couldn't have been better."

When asked about how it felt to be getting involved with such a solid coaching staff, Darby was quick to say, "It feels great, Coach Kelly knows how to win, he's a proven winner, Coach Diaco and Molnar are great and Coach Longo is the best in the nation. I know that it's going to be a lot of hard work, but I'm ready for it. Hard work pays off."

Darby is the No. 1-ranked cornerback in the nation and is excited to to be teaming up with Tee Shepard. "It's incredible, two of the top three corners, with the great linebackers, I just want to make the team better. I have no doubt that we will have one of the top defenses in the country."

It appears that defense won't be the only spot for Darby at Notre Dame. "Coach Kelly wants me as a corner and on special teams," Darby stated. "But down the road he wants to create some offensive packages for me."

The ball in Darby's hands is always a good thing; he rushed for 1,329 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2010.

Darby is a natural on special teams, has great field vision, and reads blockers with ease. "It comes natural," he said. "Sometimes I see the holes before they open; sometimes I let the ball bounce to see what the kick team is going to do and react from that."

Early enrollment is also in the master plan for Darby, who carries a 3.3 GPA and is involved in raising money for various local charities. Getting on campus early is a big advantage and Darby's enthusiasm was evident.

When Ronald "Speedy Lightning" Darby committed to the Irish last week, it showed Notre Dame's new commitment to speed.