"He started for us as a tenth grader," Dexter Copeland, Twiggs County head coach says. "10th, 11th, and 12th grader. Played everywhere on the field for us: quarterback, wide receiver, running back, kicked, sold tickets. He did it all for us."
"Coming from a small town, no street lights, having all the odds against you," Roland Brown, a family friend and local hip-hop artist says. "At the end of your high school career, you get an opportunity to get a scholarship."
Darqueze was the region player of the year his senior season at Twiggs County, but no major schools were interested in him. That is, until the regular season finale at Dooly County. A wide receiver there by the name of Keith Mumphery had already committed to Michigan State. That night in Vienna, Michigan State coaches happened to be there.
"I just went out there that Friday night and pretty much played my game," Dennard says.
"He had a tremendous game," Copeland says. "I think he had two touchdown catches, returned a kickoff, had an interception that game."
Michigan State loved him so much, they offered him a scholarship. He became part of a secondary there he would later name the "No Fly Zone." His senior year, he won the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the best defensive back in America.
Thursday night, he enters the NFL Draft. He could go as high as the first round, but he won’t be in New York City. He’ll be with family in Twiggs County.
"It is my experience, but they helped me along," Dennard says. "Basically turned me into a man as well. Guided me as a kid and I thought it’d be great to just have my family there."
It’s a night he admits he never thought would happen. It may not have if it weren’t for that night more than four years ago in Dooly County.
"Anywhere I go, whatever round it is, whatever team it is, I’ll be thankful and grateful for the opportunity," Dennard says.
The 2014 NFL draft begins tomorrow night at 8 o’clock. The second and third rounds follow on Friday, and rounds four through seven are set for Saturday.