Darius Victor

Sweet Victory

“Watching it, playing it—I love everything about it,” he says. “I love the fact that I’m good at it. The physicality of it. It’s the best thing on this earth.”

Victor, who describes himself as a “smashmouth kind of guy,” is making the most of his opportunity to play it for a living. A 5-foot-6-inch, 226-pound firecracker of a running back, Victor spent the winter and early spring bulldozing New York Guardians’ opponents in the first season of the revived XFL.

That he’s even in the United States, let alone playing professional football, is somewhat of a miracle. He was born in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast, where his parents had fled to escape war in their native Liberia. The family came to the U.S. when Victor was 5, and he spent his teenage years in Hyattsville, Maryland. In 2011, his older brother, Kevin, was shot and killed during an attempted robbery not far from the family’s home.

“He was my role model,” Victor says. “My biggest critic, my biggest fan. I try to live my life to please him. He was tough on me but he made me the person I am today and I am forever grateful for him.”

Ten months later, a fire destroyed the Victors’ apartment. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but it was another blow in an exceedingly difficult time.

Victor chose to play at TU because of the program’s family atmosphere. He rushed for 3,309 yards and 41 touchdowns while earning his degree in electronic media and film.

After stints in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals without
playing in a regular season game, he signed with the Guardians. Whatever his future holds, Victor knows it can’t be any tougher than his past.

“I’m living my dream again,” he says. “I always wanted to be a professional football
player and the XFL has given me an opportunity to do that. You can only control what you can control. Put your best foot forward, and be the best person that you can be
at that moment. Everything that you have is a blessing.”

Welcome to the Club

Nukiya Mayo
Nukiya Mayo

There are no jackets involved—Members Only, green or otherwise—but four basketball players joined an exclusive club this season. Nukiya Mayo posted 22 points in a loss to Iowa in November, while Kionna Jeter hit a third-quarter jumper in a win over the College of Charleston on Feb. 16 to secure their spots. Q. Murray became the third Tiger to do so when she tallied 13 points in a win at Hofstra. On the men’s side, Brian Fobbs’ layup in a loss to William & Mary made him the 27th men’s basketball player to score 1,000 points in two years or fewer.

Going National

Marrisa Wonders and Olivia Finckel
Marrisa Wonders (left) and Olivia Finckel (back right)

Outside hitter Olivia Finckel and setter Marrisa Wonders went from Tiger Nation to the national stage. They were two of 214 athletes from 94 colleges selected to try out for the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team. Also at stake at the tryouts in February were 56 spots in the U.S. Collegiate National Team programs. 

Dual Threats

Tiger student-athletes continued their strong showing in the classroom, placing 246 student-athletes on the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Commissioner’s Honor Roll for the fall 2019 term. Members must have participated in a CAA-sponsored sport and attained a minimum grade point average of 3.0 as a full-time student.

Outdoing Herself

Sophomore Crystal Johnson doesn’t know when to stop. She set two records in the same event—beating her own mark—at the Penn State Nationals meet at the end of January. She won the second heat of the 60-meter preliminaries with a time of 7.45 seconds and re-set the record in the semifinals of the same event with a time of 7.42 seconds.

Showing Her Class

Pitcher Julia Smith-Harrington was among the 30 softball student-athletes selected as candidates for the 2020 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Smith-Harrington has a career 3.9 GPA.