Honolulu, HI—It's not every day that you wake up and go to work in the morning to find that someone has left a big present in your office. Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin just had one of those days.
Former Gilmer High School all-state quarterback, and 2009 "Mr. Texas," Darian "Stump" Godfrey celebrated his 20th birthday in style on Tuesday by gifting himself to McMackin and the Hawaii Warrior football team.
That's a rather unique twist on your birthday; giving someone else a present.
Godfrey was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Texas high school football history. In three stellar years starting for the Gilmer Buckeyes, Godfrey passed for 9,344 yards and 116 touchdowns and on the ground he rushed for 2,350 yards and 49 scores.
As a senior in 2009 Godfrey threw for 3,581 yards and 42 touchdowns, rushed for 848 yards and 22 scores, and led Gilmer to a 15-0 record and the 3A Division I state title.
Suffice it to say, when he decided to transfer from New Mexico after just one dismal season in 2010—the Lobos were 1-11, Godfrey made four starts—he could have gone anywhere he wanted to. He chose Hawaii because "he liked the offense," McMackin said after Wednesday's practice.
"You know he's a pleasant surprise because he's a great kid, he (came to Hawaii) all on his own. (New Mexico) didn't release him to anybody that they were going to play in the next three years...So therefore we couldn't talk to him, we couldn't help him get in school...he had to make all these arrangements (on his own)."
Godfrey applied to and gained admission at the university earlier this month. Then he packed his bags, made travel arrangements and came to Hawaii to be a Warrior due to "the way they played the game," he said. "They showed how great teams can play and they play as a family most of all, and they love each other, and it shows when they play."
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Godfrey has to redshirt this season and pay his own tuition until next August at the earliest when Hawaii has the choice to offer him a scholarship. Next season Hawaii is switching to the Mountain West Conference, where New Mexico is a member.
"We can't give him a scholarship, he's a walk-on and I have a lot of respect for him that he liked how we played football, and had a lot of places he could have gone. I'm very glad he's here," McMackin said.
Godfrey, who is allowed to practice with the team while he redshirts, was happy to be welcomed with open arms on Tuesday, his first day with the team after arriving in Hawaii on Sunday.
"It's going great man, I'm enjoying it, every bit of it," the new Warrior said after Wednesday's practice. "It's just relaxing, enjoyable, and all the coaches are friendly and teammates too, so I just come out here and have a good time with the team (and) with the players around (me) it's just a great feeling."
Coming out of high school many of the top football programs in the country tried to recruit Godfrey as an "athlete" instead of a quarterback, but the Texan balked at that idea and chose New Mexico because they offered him what he wanted: a chance to play quarterback.
But why is Godfrey so adamant about maintaining his position at quarterback when his physical abilities could lead him to success at many other positions?
It's simple, he says. When you're the quarterback "it's just eyes on you and you're the guy. You just got to be that leader that brings the team up and if you're not going well the team's gonna have a little funk. So you just gotta bring it to the table every day and that's what it is. The quarterback, he's that guy and he's just got to be that great leader and that's what I like...I just like to thrive in the moment and have fun with my guys."
The dual-threat quarterback thinks he will fit in well with Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense and next year will get a chance to compete for the starting job according to McMackin.
"I think I fit in pretty good. I can throw it around a little bit and then I can also tuck it down and run. Obviously I'm coachable, you got to be coachable to every coach. That's what I bring to the table, I'm going to be a great leader, I'm going to give the team everything I got," Godfrey said.
The most challenging part about coming to Hawaii, he says, is that he doesn't know anyone here. None of the players, none of the coaches, no one. He was born and bred in Gilmer, Tex., and "lived there his whole life" until moving to New Mexico last year.
Godfrey had never been to Hawaii before either, but "my family was telling me, because my aunt and uncle came on a vacation, they was telling me how great it was and how much I'm going to enjoy it.
"(And then) I came out here and everything was true and it's just a beautiful place."
Admittedly, McMackin says that Godfrey wasn't on Hawaii's radar coming out of Gilmer High School in east Texas because they don't recruit high schools much in that area, focusing their efforts on junior colleges instead.
"But with (Godfrey's) credentials and what he's thought like, from what I understand, in east Texas, we might utilize his reputation and do a little more east Texas recruiting," McMackin said.
And from what he's seen on the practice field, McMackin said Godfrey's "smart as heck. He throws a great ball plus he can run. We haven't even seen him run, I just met him yesterday, but he's got a rocket arm, he throws some touch balls, and he was working with our scout team but he was throwing with the guys on routes against error and he throws a good ball."
Undoubtedly he throws a good ball.
Hawaii is lucky to have him.