Sept. 28, 1999
By Colette Jue
UCLA Media Relations Intern
LOS ANGELES - Just about anyone who knows Danny Farmer understands one thing about him. This UCLA wide receiver knows what he wants - and he usually gets it too. It's not that he's pushy or domineering either. It's just that he's got an insatiable appetite for taking on challenges. And he'll persist until he gets the results he wants.
Out of high school, Farmer was intent upon attending a college that would allow him to participate in football and volleyball. When he came to UCLA in 1995, he had only been recruited to play volleyball but was a non-scholarship athlete. An unknown at the time, he tried out for the football team, made it and redshirted his first season.
A few weeks after finishing the 1995 football season at the Aloha Bowl, Farmer earned a spot on the volleyball travel roster and made the Bruins trip to the annual Outrigger Invitational, hosted by the University of Hawaii. In his first match he spiked 10 kills and later started nine matches as a middle blocker on the Bruins NCAA championship team.
During Fall practice in 1996, Farmer's work ethic and athleticism eventually impressed the UCLA coaching staff enough that Head Coach Bob Toledo awarded him a football scholarship.
As a redshirt freshman that season, he led the Bruins with 31 catches, including an eye-popping 88-yard touchdown grab against Tennessee in his first game.
When asked why he was so determined to participate in two sports, Farmer responds, "I thought that playing one sport would limit my ability and I felt that I could contribute in more than one sport. Life is really short and if you can do it, why not?"
The 6-4, 212-pound senior enters the 1999 season as one of the best wide receivers in the country and a leading candidate for the prestigious Biletnikoff award. Last season, Farmer set a school record with 1,274 yards while making 58 receptions and earned first- team All-Pac-10 honors. His average of 22.0 yards per reception was the highest in the Pac-10 and one of the best in the nation.
Farmer ranks third on UCLA's career receiving yardage list with 2,447 yards and fourth on the career reception list with 130. If past performances are any indicator of what may come, he may also break the school records for both of those standards (179 receptions and 2,548 yards).
Football may be the key to Farmer's future, but his agility and spectacular vertical jump are also valuable attributes on the court, where he was a member of two NCAA championship volleyball teams. In the 1999 season, Farmer earned second-team All-MPSF honors. His .444 attack percentage ranked eleventh nationally and his .458 league hitting percentage ranked fourth in the MPSF. Farmer also set a career high by spiking 29 kills and blocking eight balls against Hawai'i last April.
With all his athletic success, Farmer is the first to admit that juggling two sports was extremely difficult at times. On top of going to practice, working out and competing in two sports, he also had to muster the energy to attend class and complete homework assignments. During volleyball season, Farmer would often have to rush home after a match, eat quickly, sleep for a few hours and then head out to football conditioning early the next morning.
"I know there were times when it was really hard," he recalls. "There were times that I just really wanted to give up. But I stuck to it."
Now that his volleyball career at UCLA has ended, Farmer is looking forward to having a little more time on his hands in the Spring. "I can really focus on things and just get better in football," he says.
Looking back, Farmer has no regrets.
"There's no other way I would have done it," he says. "I've just really grown as a person and as an athlete. I love it here at UCLA and it's really been the best experience of my life."
Farmer likes college so much that he opted to stay another year rather than enter the NFL draft.
"You only have four or five years to stay in college and to be with people your own age," Farmer explains. "College really brings about a type of unity that is special. I wanted to continue to play with the people that I play with. It's a great atmosphere."
But Farmer admits that he wasn't always so enthusiastic about attending the same school where his father had lettered in track, football and basketball.
"I wanted to establish myself and get away from what my father had done," he says. "I wanted to make a name for myself."
Indeed, Danny Farmer clearly casts his own shadow and should best be remembered, not as the son of former NFL player George Farmer, but as one of the best two-sport athletes in NCAA history.
But don't think any of the fame has gotten to his head.
"Anyone can go out and score touchdowns but it's how you carry yourself after that," Farmer asserts. "My mom has always said you get more with honey than with vinegar. That's how I try to live my life, just trying to be a good person."
Along with this, Farmer has another challenge for which he tries to live by.
"The most important thing is that with everything I try, I give my heart to," he says. "I don't want to ever stop short of where I can be or what I can do. The biggest reward is knowing I did my best."
It is this combination of heart, determination, competitiveness and a relentless work ethic that has helped Farmer to achieve his goals and become a talented and successful dual-sport athlete.