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Citizen Darboh reels in amazing catch in UM win

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Amara Darboh extends for his one-handed catch in the first quarter.

Ann Arbor — Michigan receiver Amara Darboh's first catch as an American citizen, a spectacular one-hander, was a 21-yard reception that converted an important third down.

When asked after the game about what a week it had been, Darboh's answer had nothing to do with the fact he became a U.S. citizen last Thursday at a ceremony in Detroit. Until prodded to discuss his naturalization, he focused only on the Wolverines' 31-0 victory over No. 22 BYU on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

Darboh led all Michigan receivers with four catches for 57 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. But that third-down catch, drawing comparisons throughout the game on social media to Odell Beckham Jr., was the first of two third-down conversions that helped keep alive the eventual touchdown-scoring drive.

He was awarded a game ball, and his teammates rallied.

"There were some USA chants in the locker room," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game, adding the team broke practice with a "USA!" chant last Wednesday.

Darboh, born in Sierra Leone, was humble speaking about the scene in the locker room.

"Very special," he said. "I have great teammates. I felt good."

Darboh began the sixth-month process to become a U.S. citizen in February.

"It was the final step," Darboh said. "I've been here since I was seven for 14 years. Growing up here I considered myself American, not forgetting my background. It was the last step and feels official now."

He took the test last Monday and said only one question threw him off — if the president and vice president can no longer serve, who takes over.

"It was the Speaker of the House," Darboh said. "That's the one I had to stop and think about."

Darboh found out immediately he had passed. On Wednesday, Harbaugh asked him to speak to the team. He thanked them for their support and received their congratulations for passing the test. Then he said move on and told them, "let's get focused."

He took the oath to become a U.S. citizen on Thursday and that evening celebrated with his teammates and coaches at a party in his honor with an All-American meal of hamburgers.

"I got a cake and balloons — much more than I ever expected that the day was going to be like," Darboh said, smiling.

Big life events are not lost on Harbaugh, who certainly enjoyed the team's victory to move to 3-1 but seemed more moved by Darboh's journey.

"Incredible week, Harbaugh said. "It's been a neat three days, four days.

"He's so good because he's a do-stuff-right guy all the time. It meant so much to him. The picture (Pulitzer-prize winning photographer and Michigan professor) David Turnley got of Amara with the 90-year-old lady in Detroit, it's powerful. It speaks volumes about how fortunate we all are."

Defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow said it was a great scene in the locker room when Darboh was awarded the game ball.

"It was pretty cool," Glasgow said. "I didn't know Darboh wasn't a U.S. citizen, so when I heard that I was kind of shocked. He's now a full citizen of the United States. The USA chant was good. Any time you get a chance to chant USA, you do it."

Darboh leads the team in receiving with 242 yards on 20 receptions and has two touchdowns.

"It was a great week," Darboh said. "And a great way to end it."

Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh makes a touchdown reception in the second quarter.