By Mickey Furfari
For the Times West Virginian
Darryl Talley, one of the hardest-hitting and most productive tacklers in West Virginia University football history, is now owner and operator of a successful business in Florida.
His company manufactures signs for use during construction work on the national highways. There are three different outlets in the Sunshine State.
Talley, a native of East Cleveland, Ohio, earned letters as a linebacker here in 1979-80-81-82. He was credited with 484 tackles, then an all-time career school record.
He also had 19 quarterback sacks.
After graduating, Talley was a second-round selection of the Buffalo Bills in the NFL draft. And the 6-foot-4, 231-pound speedy head-hunter became that club’s tackle career record-setter in 12 years.
WVU’s head coach for 21 years, Don Nehlen, called Talley “one of the greatest players we ever had” during his winningest ever coaching reign.
“I always enjoyed playing football at West Virginia,” said Talley, who now lives in Orlando, Fla. WVU fans certainly loved to watch him perform, too.
Talley, who became the school’s third consensus All-American in 1982, actually was redshirted by coach Frank Cignetti as a freshman in 1978 and he said it was one of the best things that ever happened to him.
Talley was a skinny kid and sitting out a year enabled him to become bigger and stronger.
So he played only one year for Cignetti and three for Nehlen. He was a team captain as a senior and helped his team to back-to-back 9-3 records as Nehlen’s program elevated to solid national stature.
Nehlen recalled that Talley preserved a 19-18 upset win against a strong Maryland team in 1982. He did so by breaking up the Terrapins’ attempt for a game-winning two-point conversion.
But Talley remembers well the heart-breaking 16-13 loss to No. 4-ranked Pitt as perhaps his best game performance Talley had as a Mountaineer. So do I. He raced all over the field like a wild man, making tackles and breaking up passes.
“Yes, I remember that day,” he said. “I thought I played very well. I played that way because I wanted to beat Pitt,” he said.
Besides 12 years as a professional with Buffalo, he played one year with Atlanta and the other with Minnesota. He also appeared in four Super Bowls and two Pro Bowls.
Talley, who was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, was then inducted into the National Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame a year ago. Hopefully, a deserved spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame will follow soon.
Asked what made him so tough and successful as a linebacker, Darryl had a simple reply: “I’ve got a couple things. No. 1, it was my desire to win. No. 2, it was my upbringing that you have to work for everything you get (because) nobody gives you anything.”
Talley and his wife Jeannie have two daughters, Alexandra and Gabrielle.