USM's Yancey loves animals


Southern Miss redshirt junior defensive lineman Darian Yancey loves animals.

He’s had many animals in his life. Some were normal pets like a few dogs, a cat, a few birds or a couple of rabbits, and some were more on the stranger side like his ball python and an iguana.

A few of the animals died for unfortunate reasons, and he says his rabbits disappeared within a few days of him getting them. He doesn’t have any proof, but he believes his mother was behind it.

The ball python, however, he couldn’t handle.

“I took the ball python back to the store,” he said. “I was like, ‘Ain’t no way. I’m not fixing to deal with this snake.’ It was creeping me out.”

But now he’s the proud father of a bearded dragon named Jeffrey.

“That was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw him,” Yancey said. “I was like, ‘You know what? You’re Jeffrey.’”

He has an uncle named Jeffrey, and a friend from high school with the same name, too, but neither are the reasons why his bearded dragon of a year and a half was chosen for the name.

The Auburn, Ala. native always wanted a bearded dragon, but his mother wouldn’t let him get one under her roof. Now that’s he has his own apartment, he drove to PetSmart one day when he was bored and bought one. In fact, when Yancey was finished with his media session Monday afternoon, he was going to PetSmart to buy Jeffrey more crickets to eat.

Yancey, like many others, wanted a pet dog, but that was too high maintenance for the Southern Miss football player. So, he settled with a bearded dragon.

“He’s boring,” Yancey said. “He’s a very boring pet, but I like him. He just sits there. Like, if I sit him on my shoulder, he just sits there and won’t move. If I’m just watching TV, he’ll just sit on my lap and just sit there.”

Sadly, Jeffrey doesn’t make the road trips with the Southern Miss football team.

Now that he has the lizard, Yancey said his mom is OK with it. He even finds her in his room tapping on the cage.

“I’m like, ‘Mom, what are you doing?’ and she’s like, ‘Everywhere I go he follows me!’ I’m like, ‘Of course, because you keep messing with him,’” Yancey joked.

When he had the snake, however, she wouldn’t come to his apartment.

So, what’s the future plan for the pet-loving Yancey?

“If I ever get a whole bunch of money, I plan on getting a wolf. I want a big ol’ wolf,” he said. “Or a cheetah. A wolf or a cheetah. I love animals, man.”

With his fixation of animals, Yancey wants to do some type of career that has to deal with animals, right? Nope. He wants to be a personal trainer, but not an athletic trainer like Yancey deals with on a daily basis.

“I feel like that’s too stressful and too time-consuming,” he said. “They’re up here all day long. Not me. At least I can go home. They can’t go home. They have to sit up here and make sure all of the athletes are all right.”