A Valley native and former Campbell Memorial High School standout is heading to the Super Bowl. Deland McCullough is currently Kansas City’s running backs coach. 21 News spoke with his adoptive mother about his journey to the Big Game.
“My excitement is beyond the word excitement,” said Adelle Comer, Deland’s adoptive mother.
Adelle is a diehard Cleveland Browns fan, but Monday, she was a proud mother decked out in Kansas City Chiefs gear— as her adopted son Deland prepares for the Super Bowl.
“He’s a running backs coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, but God got something bigger for him, and I knew that when he was three years old OK. So I’m excited. I’m happy,” she said.
Long before he helped the Chiefs win the AFC Championship game, Deland started in pee wee football in the valley and became a standout athlete at Campbell Memorial High School.
“I knew he was a special child when God gave him to me, but I knew he was a special person and human being when he showed love and compassion for me and his brother, his neighbors, the children he grew up, the sensitivity that I saw in that child,” Adelle explained.
Adelle adopted him as a baby and raised her two sons to prioritize their faith, education, family, and finances. Academics always came first.
After graduation in 1991, Deland went on to Miami of Ohio, where he graduated in 1996 as the all-time leading rusher for the Redhawks and the Mid-American Conference.
Then he was off to the NFL to play for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles. He started coaching and eventually went to the college level at Indiana University and USC.
“He is a man of integrity, a good husband, a fantabulous father, an inspiration to everybody he touches.”
An inspiration who was in the national spotlight recently as the focus of an ESPN E:60 feature about his journey to find his birth parents. It leads him to his biological father, who he had known as his coach and mentor— Sherman Smith.
“Now he’s out there speaking like his dad Sherman, and we’re just so proud — that the man and the character, the characteristics and the person that he is. I didn’t make him; God made him, God just gave me to mold him; that’s what he does all parents.”
It’s one of Adelle’s other proud moments— she had prayed that he would someday find his biological parents, and she was able to see it come to fruition.
“I called his birth mother Carol after Kansas City won, and I told her this— next to my son finding his birth parents, this is my most proudest moment,” Adelle said.
Now Deland’s son Deland McCullough II is also following his father and grandfather’s footsteps as a football player at Miami of Ohio and sporting the same number as his dad— 25.
Deland and his wife Darnell have four sons— Deland II, Dasan, Daeh, and Diem.
Adelle isn’t sure yet if she’ll be at the Super Bowl game yet—that’s still up in the air—but no matter what, she’ll still be watching it closely and cheering him on.