Steady Farmer never gives up
YOU'VE heard of "Everybody's All-American"?
This guy is nobody's All-American.
You know all the exciting preseason stories about Hawaii's running backs? This guy's was the name tacked on in the back, under "also returning is." You know the picture of the "big boys"? He wasn't in it. You know Nate Ilaoa? This isn't him. No. This guy has no home, no hook, no calling card, no niche.
He's not one of the heralded "big backs" (but he weighs 230 pounds).
He's a better runner than most people think -- "I think so," he says -- but Hawaii has Ilaoa for that, and besides, as much as Hawaii runs, the trickle down, by the time it trickles to him, is barely a drop. (Twelve carries in 11 games last year.)
They said he was a good blocker, that was his strength, but now Hawaii has Reagan Mauia for that.
He hasn't put on 40 pounds in the last five years or lost 40 in the past five months. He has no exciting backstory. He's not a fun mad-scientist experiment. He's not a converted defensive lineman like all the rest.
"Actually, as the trend keeps going toward heavier backs I'm losing weight," David Farmer says.
See? That's how out of touch this guy is.
Nothing to hang his hat on. The only buzz he has is on his closely cropped head.
I don't know why we're even talking about him.
Except the other week, at Alabama, there he was, in the game, at crunch time, at the end of the game.
"Yep," he says. That was him.
There he was, the guy nobody's talking about, in the game at the end of it. The man the fans forgot.
"I honestly could care less," he says. "I kind of like the fact that I'm the underdog, the guy that no one talks about, that no one wants to interview."
I tell him it's been a horrible experience, just to make him feel better. He feeds on this underdog persona, you see.
To talk to David Farmer is to listen to him dog his football andor athletic ability over and over again. It's ridiculous, of course. He's good. You don't get into Division I games by accident (well, not usually). Anyone who's watched his last couple of camps knows this guy can play. But maybe he does have his story -- his niche -- after all. He's the hard-working walk-on. That's how he sees himself. It drives him.
And at least he's honest here: "If it was my choice," he says, "I would be the guy who was in there the whole game."
That's what he's working toward. He loves all the other guys, of course. But that's what he wants.
And so he keeps coming. He never goes away.
We've all forgotten David Farmer. Hawaii's coaches can't.
"I'm always preparing myself, mentally too," he says. "Be ready. You never know when it's going to be my time. That's kind of been the mentality I have. So even when (June Jones) does put me in the game after sitting for 2 1/2 hours, I'm on top of my stuff, I know my assignments. I like to think he can count on me."
Alabama on the road in the fourth quarter proved it. Forgotten Farmer was still coming, still working, coming up with cut blocks, making a nice move to earn a first down. Still there. You can count on him. He isn't going away.
He played as a redshirt freshman last year. That was a surprise, ahead of schedule. Now he's hungry for more. Now he's behind his playing-time goals.
He comes from a family of what he calls "all football people." His dad played for USC, his uncle for UCLA, his cousin Danny Farmer -- yeah, the volleyball player -- for UCLA. All spent time in the pros.
"I guess if I don't go to the NFL, I'll be the first," he says.
It's been journey enough just to get here. Walking on at UH was his best shot to play what he calls "big-time football." He was a block-first fullback in high school, and the phone wasn't ringing off the hook. He knew this might be when the game left him behind. He was ready to accept getting on with his life.
But he wanted just one last shot. He didn't want to look back in 20 or 30 years ...
He hasn't looked back since.
He keeps coming. He started two games last year.
But of course that was before this season's excitement over running backs, none of whom had David Farmer's name.
He's big but he's not another Ironhead. He can run pretty good -- he calls his running style "efficient" -- but he's not Nate. He's not another defensive lineman. There's nothing exciting about him. He has no great story, no home, no hook, no niche. Except that he keeps coming. Except somehow, the guy can just play.
He's so easily forgettable. Except somehow, UH coaches can't.
"I just try to be assignment perfect," he says. "I think the fact that no matter what happens the fact that the coach knows that I know what I'm doing. That's what's kept me in the mix."
OK, enough of the no-talent, all-heart, hard-working walk-on cliché. Doesn't he have to get to breakfast?
"I'm not on scholarship," he says, then smiles. "I don't eat that breakfast."
David Farmer walks off, determined. Never in the picture, but somehow, still in the mix.