Darren Sproles

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Darren Sproles
Darren Sproles.JPG
Sproles during his tenure with the San Diego Chargers.
No. 43     New Orleans Saints
Running back / Return specialist
Personal information
Date of birth: (1983-06-20) June 20, 1983 (age 30)
Place of birth: Waterloo, Iowa
Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)Weight: 190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school: Olathe (KS) North
College: Kansas State
NFL Draft: 2005 / Round: 4 / Pick: 130
Debuted in 2005 for the San Diego Chargers
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 6, 2013
Rushing Yards2,119
Rushing Average5.1
Receptions339
Receiving yards3,143
Total Return Yards9,738
Total Touchdowns41
Stats at NFL.com
 
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Darren Sproles
Darren Sproles.JPG
Sproles during his tenure with the San Diego Chargers.
No. 43     New Orleans Saints
Running back / Return specialist
Personal information
Date of birth: (1983-06-20) June 20, 1983 (age 30)
Place of birth: Waterloo, Iowa
Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)Weight: 190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school: Olathe (KS) North
College: Kansas State
NFL Draft: 2005 / Round: 4 / Pick: 130
Debuted in 2005 for the San Diego Chargers
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 6, 2013
Rushing Yards2,119
Rushing Average5.1
Receptions339
Receiving yards3,143
Total Return Yards9,738
Total Touchdowns41
Stats at NFL.com

Darren Lee Sproles (born June 20, 1983) is an American football running back who plays for the New Orleans Saints. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Kansas State.

Sproles was named as a kick returner on the Chargers 50th Anniversary Team. He joined the Saints in free agency before the 2011 season, and broke the NFL record for most single-season all-purpose yardage the same year, with 2,696 yards. During that season he set career highs with 603 yards rushing (6.9 yards per carry) and 710 yards receiving and a combined total of 9 touchdowns. Sproles is the first player in NFL history with 2,200+ all purpose yards in 4 different seasons (2008-2011).

Early years[edit]

Sproles attended Rolling Ridge Elementary, then Oregon Trail Junior High, followed by Olathe North High School, all in Olathe, Kansas. He has been conquering a speech impediment he has had since childhood.[1] Sproles was a star in football, earning the name "Tank," after being born at 10 lb (4.5 kg).[2] For two consecutive years, he was an All-Sunflower League honoree, All-Metro honoree, and an All-State selection. Additionally, he was twice named The Kansas City Star Player of the Year. As a senior, he was named the Kansas Hall of Fame Player of the Year and the USA Today Kansas Player of the Year. Throughout his high school career, Sproles rushed for 5,230 yards, averaging nearly 8.4 yards per carry and 79 touchdowns.

He was a High school All-American as selected by Student Sports Magazine. He was also the winner of Thomas A. Simone Trophy, given to the top big-class football player in Kansas City metro area. In 1999, he rushed for 2,031 yards in nine games as a junior.[3] In his senior year of 2000, Sproles rushed for 2,485 yards, scoring 49 touchdowns. He led his Olathe North Eagles to a 12–0 record and their fourth Kansas 6A state title in five years.[4]

Track and field[edit]

Sproles was also a track star at Olathe (KS) North. He finished 2nd in the state in the 200 meters as a junior, with a time of 21.6 seconds. He also placed 4th at Class 6A States in 100 meters, with a time of 10.93 seconds, and 3rd in the 200 meters, with a time of 22.04 seconds.

His personal bests are 10.6 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.6 seconds in the 200 meters.

College career[edit]

Sproles played college football at Kansas State University from 2001 to 2004, starting all games in his last two seasons and setting 23 school records. He finished 11th on the all-time college rushing yards list, with the 6th most all-purpose yards in NCAA history. He led all FBS teams in rushing yards in 2003 with 1,986. He also led Kansas State University to its first Big 12 Conference championship in 2003, a win over # 1 ranked Oklahoma, 35–7. That same year he finished 5th in the Heisman Trophy voting. He graduated with a degree in speech pathology.

Collegiate statistics[edit]

YearTeamGamesAttemptsYardsYPATDsLong
2001Kansas State6282107.5138
2002Kansas State132371,4656.21780
2003Kansas State153061,9866.51673
2004Kansas State112441,3185.41174
Career 458154,9796.14580

Professional career[edit]

2005 NFL Combine[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
HtWt40-yd dash10-yd split20-yd split20-ss3-coneVertBroadBP
5 ft 6 in187 lb4.31 s1.55 s2.62 s3.96 s6.96 s33 in8 ft 9 in23 reps
All values from NFL Combine

San Diego Chargers[edit]

Sproles was drafted by the Chargers 130th overall in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

He spent the 2005 season as the third string running back, behind LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner, returning kicks and punts. He then spent the entire 2006 season on injured reserve list after breaking his ankle during the preseason.

2007[edit]

On November 11, 2007, in the Chargers' 23-21 upset over the Indianapolis Colts, Sproles made history by returning a kickoff and a punt for his first two NFL touchdowns—the first player in league history ever to do so. He returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for the game's first score. After Nate Kaeding's field goal increased the Chargers' lead to 10-0, Sproles returned a Hunter Smith punt 46 yards for another touchdown for a 16-0 lead. Sproles became the first NFL player to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same game since Dante Hall did so in 2003.

On December 16, 2007, Sproles ran one yard for his first career rushing touchdown against the Detroit Lions. This was followed by an 11 yard run for his second rushing touchdown, capping off his first 100+ yard rushing game.

2008[edit]

On September 14, 2008, Sproles became just the second player in NFL history with 50 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards, and 100 return yards in one game (the other being Gale Sayers with the Chicago Bears). His stats for the game included: 53 rushing yards, 72 receiving yards, and 192 return yards. Sproles logged 317 all-purpose yards in a 39-38 loss to the Denver Broncos. He also had a 103 yard touchdown return.

On January 3, 2009, during an AFC Wild card game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sproles ran for two touchdowns in place of the injured LaDainian Tomlinson, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Colts 23-17. With 105 yards rushing, 45 yards receiving and 178 return yards, Sproles finished the game with 328 all-purpose yards in the Chargers victory over the Colts, the third most all-purpose yards by a player in a single NFL post-season game in NFL history.[5][6] He was named the NBC Sunday Night Football "Horse Trailer Player of the Game" for the second consecutive week. The week following however, Sproles was stopped by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He managed only 15 yards on 11 carries, but did have 5 receptions for 91 yards including a 62-yard touchdown.

2009-2010[edit]

On February 18, 2009, the Chargers placed their franchise tag on Sproles.[7] He signed the tender on April 28, 2009, which is worth $6.621 million.

On March 4, 2010 it was reported that the Chargers will tender Sproles a contract, which will be worth approximately $7.3 million. Another team would have to give the Chargers first- and third-round draft picks if they signed Sproles.[8]

New Orleans Saints[edit]

2011-2012[edit]

On July 29, 2011, Sproles signed a four year contract worth $14 million with the New Orleans Saints. The contract included $6 million in guaranteed money.[9]

On September 8th, during a game against the Green Bay Packers, Sproles returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown during the second quarter, and returned a second punt for just 20 yards; he also had 2 kick-off returns for 83 yards, including a 57-yard return. That gave Sproles 175 yards of returning on special teams, and on offense, he had 7 receptions for 75 yards, along with just 2 carries for 7 yards, and that gave him 257 all-purpose yards.

On September 25, during a game against the Houston Texans, Sproles had 193 all-purpose yards (108 special teams yards and 85 offensive yards), with 6 receptions for 50 yards, 2 carries for 35 yards, including a 30-yard TD run, and on special teams, had only 1 punt return for 5 yards, but also had 4 kick-off returns for 103 yards.

On October 23, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts, Darren Sproles had 190 all-purpose yards with 2 touchdowns. On special teams, he had 6 returns for 83 yards (4 punt returns for 27 yards and 2 kick-off returns for 56 yards), and also had 29-yard return kick-off return. On offense, he had 12 carries for 88 yards with a 16-yard touchdown run, and 6 receptions for 19 yards with a 6-yard touchdown pass. During this game, Sproles broke over 1,000 all-purpose yards mark.

On December 26, 2011, during a game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sproles had 236 all-purpose yards. On special teams, he had 4 kick-off returns for 147 yards, including a 92-yard return in which he almost returned the football to the house, and on offense, he had just 89 yards of total offense, with 5 carries for 67 yards, 2 receptions for 22 yards but with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees. This last-play touchdown pass in the 4th quarter helped Drew Brees break the single season record for passing yards (5,084), held by Dan Marino since 1984/ That pass gave Brees 5,087 yards for the 2011 regular season with one game remaining.

On January 1st, during the last game against the Carolina Panthers, Sproles had 168 all-purpose yards, in which he had 5 returns for 99 yards (2 kick-off returns for 45 yards and 3 punt returns for 54 yards) on special teams, and on offense, had just 6 carries for 40 yards and 5 receptions for 29 yards, but with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees in the 4th quarter. During this huge game against the Panthers, multiple Saints broke records for the 2011 season. Sproles broke the NFL record for all-purpose yards in a season (2,696) on an 8-yard run, while Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning's pass completions, with Brees completing 468 passes, and broke his own record, completing 71.6% of his passes. Tight end Jimmy Graham finished the regular season with 1,310 receiving yards, having 97 receiving yards with a 19-yard touchdown pass in the game, but the record would later be broken by the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski later in the week.[10]

Sproles broke over 1,000 all-purpose yards in only his seventh game as a Saint. Maintaining an average of 168.5 all purpose yards per game Sproles finished the 2011 season with 2,696 all-purpose yards, breaking the NFL single-season record, previously set in 2000 by Derrick Mason (2,690 yards).[11] On November 2, 2012, Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt announced that Sproles will be out indefinitely due to a fractured hand.[12]

NFL records[edit]

Chargers franchise records[edit]

Saints franchise records[edit]

Personal[edit]

Sproles' father Larry played running back at MidAmerica Nazarene University. Larry was 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m)[14][15] His mother Annette died of cancer in April 2004.

Sproles married his longtime girlfriend, Michel Hunt, on June 12, 2010. The couple has a daughter, Devyn.

Sproles is known by the nickname "Lightning Bug" due to his speed, agility, short stature and the fact the Chargers uniform is adorned with lightning bolts.

Sproles' nickname in New Orleans is "noseeum", after a tiny local insect that is too small to see but still has a mean bite.

Sproles maintains his offseason home in San Diego.[16]

References[edit]

External links[edit]