Former college star turns injury into new career with Jefferson Parish

Darrington Sentimore once spent his time taking down quarterbacks and running backs at the prep, college and NFL level.

Soon enough, he hopes to spend his time taking down crime.Sentimore, a former superstar defensive lineman at Destrehan, has been training with the Jefferson Parish police force for the past two months as he enters a new chapter of his life, pursuing a career in law enforcement.

“I’m really enjoying it so far,” Sentimore said. “I look at it as a way to help people and steer them in the right direction, because not everybody’s a criminal. People make wrong decisions and bad choices, but they can turn things around in their lives.”

Sentimore’s had this in mind for a while —  he majored in criminal justice while at the University of Tennessee. The initial goal of the gifted defensive tackle, however, was to make it to the NFL.

He helped Destrehan earn state championships in 2007 and 2008; the Wildcats did not lose a game in either season on their way to what ultimately was a 30-game winning streak. After an extremely productive career helping to anchor that defense, he was highly recruited around the nation before signing as a four-star prospect with Nick Saban and the University of Alabama.

But life at Alabama didn’t agree with the big man. He transferred first to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before reemerging as a key member of the Tennessee Volunteers’ defense in 2011. He declared for the NFL Draft as a junior on the advice of an agent, but went undrafted, a decision he later admitted he regretted. But he was undeterred and earned a spot in the camp of the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It was great, my time with the Bengals,” Sentimore said.

“It was one of my goals as a youngster to make it there.”But an injury set him back, and Sentimore was released.

He played with the Colorado Ice of the Indoor Football League in 2014, holding out hope for a call from an NFL team. He also spent time working with the St. Charles Recreation Department, helping out with football and baseball.

Then one day, he made the decision to turn the page. He put in his application with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“Plan B was always to join the Sheriff’s Office,” Sentimore said. “I knew I was passionate about it and I pursued it.” He hopes to progress through his training to first become a state trooper. Ultimately, he said he would like to become a homicide detective.

But first thing’s first, he says: complete training to officially become part of the state police.

“I’m learning a lot,” he said. “Tactical and firearms training. Also, how to treat people and understand them.”He said the tactical part has been the toughest element.“Trying to take down someone,” he said. “You have to do it in the line of the law. You don’t want to do anything to cause a lawsuit.”

But the defensive lineman in him also can make it tough on those training with him.

“Man, the deputies will sometimes be like, ‘Sentimore, take it easy on me!’” he said with a smile. “’It’s not football, you’re really hurting me! I feel sorry for the guys on the street. They don’t want to give you trouble!’”

He keeps up with his prep alma mater and regularly speaks with DHS coach Stephen Robicheaux. Sentimore said he’s looking forward to seeing the 2015 Wildcats in action.

“I’ll talk to them and try to motivate (the players) to be the best they can be on the field and in the classroom,” Sentimore said. “And to stay out of trouble. Hopefully, they make it to the state championship and get back to the Superdome.”

He credited Robicheaux and former DHS defensive coordinator Chris Stroud for emphasizing discipline each day, something he said was a big reason the 2007 and 2008 teams captured those state titles.

That discipline is also something, Sentimore said, is something he will draw upon in his new line of work.“You have to be very disciplined,” he said. “If a guy spits on you, you can’t lose your mind. You have to handcuff him and follow the procedure and chain of command. Discipline is a huge part of what we do every day.”


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