OXON HILL, Md. -- Ronald Darby wasn't 100-percent sure he'd commit to Florida State until he was grounded by his mother.
Phone privileges were taken away by his mother the evening before national signing day. The punishment was designed to force the four-star cornerback to think with as clear of a mind as possible.
"My mom took the phone from me so no one would get in my head, to make sure I was making the decision for me and no one else," the standout from Oxon Hills (Md.) Potomac said.
That was no easy feat. Darby said Clemson was a close second because of the bond he had developed with the Tigers coaches.
"They're spiritual and I really liked that," he said.
The Darby family could have used some spirituality in the final weeks leading up to his announcement. Stress ruled the Darby home.
"It's as stressful as being stalked," Darby's mother, Jarina Darby, said with a hearty laugh. "Getting phone calls all times of the night Everybody sells the same story. You just have to go with your gut instinct."
Jarina Darby still remembers the time her family hosted three sets of recruiters in one night.
"One school in particular ate all my honey buns up in the house," she said.
Ronald Darby's father, Ronald Darby Sr., felt the pressure as well.
"I've never went through anything like this," the elder Darby said. "It was very stressful. No sleep. No sleep. Coaches coming to the door and phone calls but we had to go through everything. I can get some rest now."
The problem was each finalist (Auburn was the third) came up with a good plan for Darby to excel at football and track.
Maryland was in contention until they started to consider disbanding their track program. Darby could have still gone to Maryland and run track unattached but that wasn't a favorable option. Neither was staying close to home. Then Florida State offered the opportunity and plan to participate in both sports.
"It was big," Darby said of track's influence on his decision. "Going onto the next level, I'd love to make it to the NFL, but if I do fall short on that, I want to be able to run track."
Once a Notre Dame commitment, Darby saw the dark side of recruiting before he broke Clemson and Auburn's hearts. Darby said the online disapproval of him decomitting became bothersome. His mother noticed that right away.
"He got criticized a lot," she said. "I didn't want to read the messages but he'd just show me (and say) 'These people are talking bad about me.' I didn't read them. I just told him not to worry about it. You're only one person. You've got to do what you've got to do.
"If you didn't feel like Notre Dame was the school for you, then it's not the school for you."
Darby was one of several big hauls for Florida State on signing day, yet he said that didn't factor in his decision.
"You can't go off that," Darby said of the Seminoles' talented 2012 class. "You don't know what's going to happen in the future."
Jarina Darby still remembers when she first saw her son was a strong athlete. It happened when he was 10-years-old in Pop Warner.
"I realized how talented he was," she said. "He's very fast. He didn't have a lot of skill but he just had speed."
Whether that speed shows up more on the football field or track in Tallahassee has yet to be seen. But for those curious which sport Darby is better at, just ask him.
"Football of course," he said with his trademark grin.
Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.