By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Darius Pinnix took an unplanned route during the latter part of his college football career, but he’s hoping that path leads to additional chances to play football.
Pinnix, a Western Alamance alum, is gearing up to put himself in line for a shot at the professional level following two seasons at Tiffin University.
“It went pretty good,” the running back said. “I felt like I got to show my versatility. I had a pretty good last year there.”
Pinnix spent four seasons in East Carolina’s program before transferring to use two seasons of eligibility at Tiffin, a Division II school in Ohio.
Landing at Tiffin came because of a connection to head coach Cris Reisert, who spent three seasons as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Elon (2014-16). Pinnix had received a scholarship offer from Elon while in high school.
His final season at East Carolina was marked by personal challenges. His trainer Jeff Cook, who he lived with during a period in Alamance County, died in July 2020 and less than two months later his father, Darius Pinnix Sr., passed away from a heart attack shortly after the beginning of the 2020 college season.
“When you lose two people like that, it was a battle,” Pinnix said. “God wouldn’t put me through something like that if He didn’t think I could get through it. … I didn’t quit. I finished out that season.”
There were good moments with East Carolina as he was the top ball carrier in six games as a freshman in 2017 and started three games the next season. A neck injury limited him to four games in 2019, but he scored four touchdowns in 2020 to give him 13 career TDs in his time with the Pirates. He said he dealt with depression and weight gain as his time at East Carolina wound down.
“I didn’t meet every goal, but I feel I did what I could to help that program,” he said. “I never gave up.”
Going to Tiffin provided a different perspective on a team that had several transfers from Division I programs.
“All I did is compete,” Pinnix said. “I knew when I got there the job wasn’t going to be handed to me.”
This year, Pinnix led the Dragons with 809 rushing yards on 154 carries with nine touchdowns.
The 6-foot, 225-pound running back also caught 19 passes for 140 yards and was named a first-team running back in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Tiffin, which shared second place in its league, finished with a 6-5 record, including two one-point losses to Truman. Pinnix had more than 100 rushing yards in games vs. Ohio Dominican, Indianapolis, and Hillsdale and eclipsed 90 yards against Lake Erie and Kentucky Wesleyan.
In his first year for the Dragons, he gained 668 rushing yards and 237 receiving yards. He was an All-GMAC second-team choice.
Pinnix, 23, has plans to train at a Greensboro facility in advance of a spring pro day. He has worked out recently in Burlington with Graham alum Jamie Newman and Western Alamance graduate B.J. Bunn. Both of those men have had recent professional football experiences.
Pinnix, who also played basketball and ran on the track and field team at Western, majored in communications at East Carolina. He said he’ll finish one class remotely to obtain a masters degree in sports management from Tiffin.