LAWRENCE — Darrell Stuckey is seemingly living a fairy tale. On Saturday, he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the 12th pick of the fourth round in the NFL Draft. On Monday, he asked his college sweetheart, KU basketball team manager Lacie Reed, to be his wife, and she said yes.
"Just to let her know that no matter what happens, this is our future that we're waiting on this week and not just mine," Stuckey said. "I didn't want to be selfish about it. I wanted her to know she was the most important thing in my life."
When Stuckey informed Reed — the older sister of KU basketball player Tyrel Reed — that he was a Charger, her reaction was only natural.
"She goes 'the sun and a mild winter,' " Stuckey said. "It's going to be great."
Stuckey does believe that this is all going to be great, but he showed on Saturday that he'll be taking his Midwestern practicality and Kansas sensibilities along with him to the West Coast. Stuckey said he called former KU linebacker and current Charger James Holt and asked him about California's higher cost of living.
"We've been spoiled here in Kansas with the cost of living," said Stuckey, a native of Kansas City, Kan. "You go somewhere like that, it's a big difference."
A couple of other former Jayhawks will be spreading their wings and heading to different parts of the country as well. Wide receiver Kerry Meier, who is mourning the tragic hiking death of his older brother Dylan, was picked by the Atlanta Falcons with the 34th pick in the fifth round. Wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who left KU a year early, surprisingly fell to the Cincinnati Bengals at the 22nd pick of the sixth round. Meier and Briscoe were the 19th and 20th receivers taken.
Stuckey may have been the first KU player off the board, but he was not pleased with falling into the draft's third day.
"It gets pretty anxious," Stuckey said. "You feel like you're better than the player who got drafted in front of you, or you were man to man with him at the combine and you feel like you tested better. I knew I was a fourth-round gem. (The Chargers) told me they were surprised I was still on the board. I laughed and said we had something in common."
Stuckey did not seem surprised to be a Charger. At KU's spring game on Saturday, he was wearing a light blue Chargers hat that the team gave him at the NFL scouting combine. He enjoyed that meeting because he and the Chargers officials mostly told stories about Holt.
Leading into the draft, about 20 teams had called Stuckey to confirm his draft-day phone number. So he knew he was going to get good news at some point. Stuckey realizes the opportunity he has in front of him.
"College is the elite of your area," Stuckey said. "You go to the NFL, it's the elite of the elite. The margin for error is much smaller."
While Stuckey is excited for the move to San Diego, Kansas will always be home.
"I'll probably find my way back here," Stuckey said. "I don't know about the near future, but I'll always come back to Lawrence. This is home for me. I'll be back in the offseason, watching basketball games, having fun."