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Talley honored by alma mater

A lot has changed in Darryl Talley's life since the former West Virginia linebacker and Buffalo Bills' great graduated from WVU in 1982.

He has kids in college now and has owned a traffic control company for almost 12 years.

As Talley was honored by WVU on Friday at the Waterfront Hotel in Morgantown for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the one thing all of Talley's friends and former teammates said was how much Talley taught them along the way.

"The first day I got traded was Halloween day of 1987," said former Buffalo Bills teammate Cornelius Bennett. "My head was swimming, I was confused, I was sitting in the locker [room] and Darryl came over and introduced himself and told me to put the playbook away. He said "everything that you need to know I'll teach you.'"

That was the beginning of a relationship where Bennett and Talley could look into each other's eyes on the field, nod or wink, and be on the same page because of how much trust they built between each other.

Bennett was just one of many players that Talley had a close relationship with, as former Bills teammate and NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith roomed with Talley during their time in Buffalo.

"Darryl is family," Smith said. "I just have so much respect and admiration for [him] and what he's accomplished, in not only his NFL career, but his college career.

"There are many that play this game, but few are chosen to be among the best. His legacy that he's left behind and his reputation, it was awesome. He was a fearsome player, an incredible individual and I'm happy to be a part of this ceremony for him."

Former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas remembers when Talley first took him to the Big Tree Inn in Orchard Park, and told him to play hard for the fans and for himself.

"He took me under his wing and he's one of my best friends right now," Thomas said.

Talley ended his career at West Virginia on top of the school's all-time tackles list with 489 (he is now second behind Grant Wiley, 492.) He had 28 tackles for loss, 19 sacks and five interceptions in his collegiate career.

The East Cleveland, Ohio, native was not highly recruited out of high school, probably because he barely weighed 150 pounds coming out of high school.

It was Talley's desire and intelligence that paved the path for success in his collegiate and professional football career. According to Bennett, former Miami Dolphins quarterback and Hall of Famer Dan Marino has been quoted as saying Talley gave him the hardest hit of his career.

Now that Talley's daughters are in or out of college, the two-time NFL Pro Bowler has more time on his hands to pursue a job in coaching, something he has considered in the past.

"I think I have something to give the guys and a knack for teaching them something, which I don't think is being taught anymore, which is called technique," Talley said. "I don't think a lot of the guys understand what it takes to be a pro. You don't just get paid a check, it's a way in which you carry yourself and it's a way in which you have to act."

Some of Talley's fellow College Football Hall of Fame teammates, including Thomas and Smith, feel that this induction has been long overdue, but Talley was as humble as ever when he heard the news.

"It feels really good considering how many kids play this game and how many guys actually have a chance to make it," he said. "Being selected as one of those guys is truly an honor."