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Family first: The rise of Darius Victor

By: Allan Blanks

Darius Victor with his extended football family walking in for their 2013 National Championship game.

Darius Victor (left) with his extended football family walking in for their 2013 National Championship game.

Towson University has a rising star, and his name is Darius Vito Victor. Loved by his peers, respected by his teammates, and feared by opposing defenses; Victor is a celebrated leader, and proud representative of the Tigers football team.

On the field, Victor is a relentless runner, who bruises both the bodies and egos of oncoming defenders. Armed with linx liked vision, Victor slashes through the hole, and obliterates the opposition with blistering speed and ferocious power.

Off the field, Victor is a compassionate human being, who empowers the Boys and Girls clubs of Maryland, protects the rights of student athletes, and tirelessly campaigns fundraisers to cure breast cancer. Family is the motivating force in Victor’s life, and the familial atmosphere on campus, is what brought Victor to Towson University.

“Towson is a caring community,” Victor said. “We have great students, great professors and great coaches. Towson is a great place to be, and I want the world to know this.”

Darius Victor has 2,507 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns midway through his junior year.

Darius Victor has 2,507 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns midway through his junior year.

Considered the protege of the legendary Terrance West, Victor studied his former teammate’s technique and admired the determination of West.

“Terrance (West) is a good guy,” Victor said. “He called me yesterday, he’s a great person and he’s living the dream. He taught me a lot and I used to call him Houdini. West would get tackled but kept moving. I would ask him how did you stay on your feet? He’s really a Houdini and a big brother to me.”

While the offensive line sets blocks, Victor is setting trends. Grounding and pounding his way to 95 yards per game, Victor is charging towards double­-digit touchdowns, and two consecutive 1,000 yard plus rushing seasons.

When Victor runs, it’s literally music to the ears of spectators. Each time Victor completes a carry, his theme song excites the crowd, and energizes Johnny Unitas stadium. Entitled “Vito”, the song is composed by his good friend and fellow running back Joseph Ukwu.

“He’s (Joseph Ukwu) a good dude and good person,” Victor said. “We’re the same in so many ways. He’s not my blood brother but we’ve been close for many years. I always introduce him as my twin brother because our birthdays are three days apart, both our mothers first name starts with a P, we both have dreads. Joseph is very talented.”

Ukwu is a running back for the Morgan State University Bears, and has adopted the musical alias of JooZy Joe. “Vito” is a song that describes the running style of Victor and pays respect to his elder brother Kevin Victor, who was fatally shot in 2011. “Vito” can be heard on soundcloud.

Blessed with sensational speed, Victor is quick to share credit for his success, and remind listeners that his greatest moment has yet to occur.

“My parents, my brother, and my football coaches inspired me,” Victor said. “My older brother was hard on me. If I did something that he didn’t like, he would be the first to question me, and demand that I fix my mistakes. Kevin (Victor) was really tough and shaped me to be tough. My parents and football coaches taught me to be unselfish. It’s never about me, it’s about everyone.”

During interviews and press conferences, Victor makes time to acknowledge teammates, coaches and fans. At practice, Victor is the first to encourage his fellow Tigers, and gives respect to everyone he encounters.

Darius Victor had huge shoes to fill after Terrance West but has been the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year and last year was a First Team All-Conference player.

Darius Victor had huge shoes to fill after Terrance West but has been the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year and last year was a First Team All-Conference player.

“I try to be a good person,” Victor said. “I want to be a good football player, and the best person I can be. If you treat people with kindness, positive things will happen to you. I live by the idea of treating people the way I want to be treated.”

As a member of the Leadership Enhancement and Development Tiger program, Victor is exploring ways to become a mentor and advocate for student athletes. Recently, the electronic media and film major, was appointed to the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, and selected by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. To be considered for each committee, a student must excel academically, compete athletically and demonstrate the core values of integrity, fairness, and respect for diversity. Victor feels honored to serve the needs of others, and strives to protect the rights of student athletes.

“I want to make a difference and lead by example,” Victor said. “It’s an honor to be chosen, because there are a lot of great people doing great things. To be known as a representative of such programs is truly an honor.”

Before the junior running back produced 2,507 career rushing yards, and 28 total touchdowns from the ground, the road to Towson University, started in Liberia. The son of Gary and Patricia Victor, “Vito” is the fourth of their seven children.

“Vito is my government middle name,” Victor said. “I was named after the godfather’s Don Vito Corleone. I jokingly tell people that I’m born to be a boss. I’m an optimist and I tell people all the time, if you don’t think you can achieve something, nobody will believe in you. Having a great name like Darius Vito Victor has helped me in life.”

At an early age, Victor learned the value of family, and discovered the rewards of hard work. Seeking the American dream, Victor’s parents left Africa and raised their family in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Gary Victor is a commercial bus driver, and his wife Patricia is a custodian. In the Victor household, honesty, hard work, and treating people with respect, is the foundation for achievement. For Gary and Patricia Victor, providing for seven children was difficult.

“They were always working, and sometimes I would never get to see them” Victor said. “I was always with my brothers, and they always took care of me. Growing up, a babysitter was pointless because I had older siblings. My parents worked so hard and I appreciate them.”

Teamwork and accountability was practiced everyday. While Victor’s parents worked to make ends meet, his older brother Kevin assumed the role of disciplinarian. Stern and strong willed, Kevin was determined to help his younger brother succeed. Under the watchful eye of his elder brother Kevin, Victor gained structure, focus, and the opportunity to play football.

Darius Victor and his father Gary, posing with his All-CAA plaque.

Darius Victor and his father Gary, posing with his All-CAA plaque.

“When I was six years old, my brother Kevin used to play [football] and would take me to practice,” Victor said. “Kevin took care of me, he was big Vic and I was little Vic. One day, I was standing at practice and the coach asked me to play. My first actual run was a pitch, that I ran for a 40 yard touchdown.”

After that moment, Victor hit the ground running and has yet to stop.

In December of 2011, Kevin Victor was leaving the Brentwood Recreation Center, before he was confronted by two robbers, and fatally shot. A great sadness fell upon the Hyattsville community, but the memory of Kevin Victor provided strength to everyone he touched.

“Kevin was a great dude,” Victor said. “He taught me so much, and I believe he’s the reason why I’m the person I am today.”

When Victor isn’t cruising to the end zone, you can find him walking with Boss. A trusted companion and four legged friend, Boss is a unique combination of pitt bull and labrador retriever.

“Everybody loves Boss,” Victor said. “People come by the house to play with him, and he’s really great.”

Before Victor laces up his cleats, he opens his day with a freshly prepared bacon, egg and cheese bagel from the Towson Hot Bagels.

“T.H.B. (Towson Hot Bagels) is a great spot with a great atmosphere,” Victor said. “Everyone is like family there, and the food is really good.”

After a strenuous round of classes and grueling day at football practice; Victor enjoys playing Madden with friends and values a good nap.

“I love to sleep,” Victor said. “I embrace sleeping and when I get the chance, I just turn everything off get my rest.”

Sleep doesn’t come easy to Victor, he’s constantly challenging himself and striving for greatness. Victor’s aspirations include a career in broadcast journalism, mentoring young children, and honoring the great reputation of Towson University.

“I’ve always had a connection to Towson,” Victor said. “Growing up, my boys and girls club team was the H.M.B. (Hyattsville/Mt. Rainer/ Brentwood) Tigers. I started a black and yellow tiger, I might as well finish one.”

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Allan Blanks

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