Darren Sproles life and biography

Darren Sproles picture, image, poster

Darren Sproles biography

Date of birth : 1983-06-20
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Waterloo, Iowa, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-09-20
Credited as : Football player NFL, running back for the San Diego Chargers, Pro Bowl/NFL Draft player

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

Last season voted one of the 50 Greatest Chargers of All-Time, Sproles is one of the pre-eminent all-purpose players in the NFL today. And at 5-foot-6 and 185 pounds, he may also be its smallest. But don't let Sproles' lack of stature fool you. He is one of the league’s most dynamic players and ranked fifth in the NFL with 2,323 combined yards in 2009. Primarily used on special teams early in his career, Sproles' role on the offense has grown the last two years and in '09 he combined for a career-best 840 yardsand seven scores as both a rusher and receiver.

Sproles has long been known as "Mighty Mouse," dating to his days at Kansas State. Shortly after being similarly referred to by Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner, Turner gave Sproles a Mighty Mouse bobblehead doll that now rests inside his locker stall.

Sproles burst onto the NFL scene and became one of the league's most sought-after free agents following a breakout season in 2008. He was one of only two NFL players to rank in the Top 10 in both kickoff and punt returns and his return efforts included a franchise-recordtying 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Denver. Sproles also became the Chargers’ No. 2 running back and his talents were put on full display in the postseason when his 22-yard touchdown run in overtime propelled the Bolts to a Wild Card Playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. That touchdown run capped a night in which Sproles tallied 328 all-purpose yards, second-most in a playoff game in team history (including AFL), and third-most in NFL playoff history. A week later in the divisional round in Pittsburgh, he accounted for another 274 all-purpose yards, giving him a two-game postseason NFL record total of 602 yards.

Sproles was ticketed to become an unrestricted free agent in 2009, but the Chargers kept him by designating him as the team's franchise player. And in the uncapped year of 2010, Sproles was a restricted free agent who received the highest possible tender.

Sproles' rise to prominence is even sweeter because there was a time when some thought the NFL career of the former Kansas State product was in jeopardy. After a stellar rookie year in 2005, Sproles broke his ankle in the first preseason game of 2006. It was an injury that caused him to miss the entire season. Despite the naysayers, Sproles fought his way back and regained his job as the Chargers' top return man. He performed so well in 2007 that he was named as a second alternate to the AFC Pro Bowl squad. Sproles finished that season ranked fifth in the NFL in kickoff returns seventh in punt returns. His breakout game, however, came in yet another meeting with the Colts. On a rainy November night in San Diego, Sproles electrified a national-television audience on NBC's Sunday Night Football by returning both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns to help lead the Chargers to a 23-21 win over the defending Super Bowl champions. He became only the ninth player in NFL history to return a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown in the same game.

Coming out of Kansas State, Sproles was one of the most prolific runners and all-purpose performers in college football history. He set nearly every school record imaginable — 23 in all — and he is regarded by many as the best player in the 110-year history of Kansas State football.

In April 2004, Sproles' mother, Annette, died at the age of 41 after a five-year battle with cancer. Honoring a commitment that he’d made to his mother, Sproles bypassed early entrance to the NFL draft and returned to Kansas State in'04 to complete his education and earn his college degree.

Since he was a young child, Sproles has fought a stuttering affliction. In college, Kansas State officials arranged for him to work with a speech pathologist and in San Diego, Sproles has spoken with basketball great and former NBA analyst Bill Walton, who overcame stuttering and enjoyed a successful broadcasting career. Sproles currently lends his name and support as a spokesman for the Stuttering Foundation of America. Aside from his work with the Stuttering Foundation, Sproles is an active volunteer for events with Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

Sproles also lends time and support to his prep alma mater, Olathe North High School in Olathe, Kansas. He is still close with former coach Gene Wier, and has participated in camps and weightlifting sessions with players at the school. Darren has considered coaching high school football after his NFL career comes to an end.

Sproles and the former Michel Hunt married this offseason. The couple has a young son, Devyn

TRANSACTION HISTORY: Fourth-round pick (130), April 24, 2005…signed four-year contract, July 26, 2005...signed one year contracts, April 28, 2009 and April 2, 2010.

2009: Pro Bowl first-alternate…USA Today All-Joe...Game Ball after five-yard GW TD run for 24-20 win with 0:18 left in 4Q of Sept. 14 MNF season opener at OAK...246 all-purpose yards vs. Raiders, including KORs of 66 and 59 yards....Sept. 20 vs. BAL, career-long 81-yard TD catch in 1Q for ninth-longest catch in team history...278 all-purpose yards vs. Ravens was ninth-best in team history and ninth 200-yard game of career...included career-high 124 yards receiving for first 100-yard game...77-yard PR TD Oct. 19 vs DEN...58-yd TD catch on 3rd down Oct. 25 at KC... careerhigh three TDs in Dec. 25 win at TEN to clinch No. 2 seed in AFC Playoffs.

2008: Pro Bowl second-alternate…Chargers Special Teams POY…AFC ST and Chargers Alumni ST POM in September…Special Teamer of Week by USA Today’s Jarrett Bell after 317 total yards Sept. 14 at DEN...23rd player since 1970 with more than 300 combined net yards in non-OT game...scored on team-record-tying 103-yard KOR (Keith Lincoln vs. NY Titans, Sept. 16, 1962) and 66-yard catch…317 yards was seventh-highest in NFL history and third-highest in team history...set up GW FG with 67-yard KOR late 4Q Sept. 28 at OAK…career-high two TD catches vs. OAK Dec. 4...iced Dec. 21 win at TB with 32-yard TD catch, set up by season-long 43-yard PR…221 total yards vs. Buccaneers to run season total to 2,053…two TDs and season-high 115 yards rushing in 52-21 win over DEN to clinch AFC West…SI.com Offensive POW after winning Jan.5 Wild Card game vs. IND with 22-yard TD run on first drive of OT…second rush TD of game for new playoff high and tied team playoff record…played majority of game in place of injured LaDainian Tomlinson (groin) and recorded secondconsecutive 100-yard game and first in playoffs…328 all purpose yards vs. Colts was second-most in team postseason history (AFL included) and third-most in NFL playoff game (KC’s Ed Podolak, 350 in 1971 OT playoff game vs. MIA and Chargers' Keith Lincoln, 329 in Jan. 5, 1964 AFL Championship
Game vs. BOS)…biggest play of night was perhaps 13-yard catch-and-run on third-and-11 in OT to sustain GW drive...also set up game-tying FG drive late 4Q with 26-yard PR…team playoff-record 62-yard TD catch late in 4Q and 274 all-purpose yards in Jan. 11 Divisional Playoffs at PIT while making first-career start at RB in place of Tomlinson…two-game postseason total of 602 was new NFLrecord (500,MIN’s Anthony Carter in 1987).

2007: Pro Bowl secondalternate…Ed Block Courage Award...ST POW by AFC and USA Today.com, and Pro Football Weekly’s NFL POW after KOR (89 yards) and PR (45) for TDs Nov. 11 vs. IND on NBC's SNF…both TDs in 1Q...ninth player in NFL history to score on KOR and PR in same game and second player in same quarter (Bobby Mitchell vs. PHI, Nov. 23, 1958)…took over for Tomlinson in 3Q Dec. 16 vs. DET and rushed for team-high 122 yards and first two rush TDs…with Tomlinson’s 116 yards and two TDs, marked first time in team history two RBs had 100 yards in same game and first time two RBs had at least 116 yards and two scores in same game since Tank Younger and Dan Towler of LA Rams Oct. 24, 1954 vs. CHI…first time two Chargers RBs had two rush TDs in same game since James Brooks and Chuck Muncie at CLEDec. 5, 1982…averaged career-best 46.7 yards per KOR at OAK Dec. 30, including KORs of 61 and 54 yards…gave Chargers 21-17 lead over IND on final play of 3Q in Divisional Playoffs with 56-yard catch and run TD on screen.

2006: Season on "Reserve-Injured" (broken ankle) on PR in Aug. 12 preseason opener vs. GB.

2005: Season-long 58-yard KOR in 4Q vs. NYG Sept. 25…INA Week 6 at OAK (ankle)…50-yard KOR set up FG for final points in 31-26 win over NYJ Nov. 6.

COLLEGE: KSU-record 48 total TDs and 45 rush TDs…North offensive MVP in '05 Senior Bowl…KSU Offensive MVP 2003-04 and co-MVP in '02…unanimous All-Big 12 in '04…Big 12 POY by CFN in '03 after leading nation with schoolrecord 1,986 rush and 2,735 all-purpose yards…fifth in Heisman voting, third in AP POY voting and runner-up for Doak Walker Award in ’03…All-America by AP, SI and NFL Draft Report in '03…first RB and 10th in KSU history named first-team All-America by AP…also unanimous first-team all-conference…Big 12 ST POW after KU game and Offensive POW after Missouri game in '03…323 scrimmage yards, including 60-yard TD catch in '03 Big 12 Championship Game vs. topranked Oklahoma…second-team All-Big 12 in '02…finished career at KSU with 4,979 rush yards, 80 rush TDs, 609 rec. yards, two TD catches, 846 KOR yards, 378 PR yards, one PR TD and 6,812 all-purpose yards…played at K-State from 2001-04…criminal justice degree.

PERSONAL: Born in Waterloo, Iowa…Kansas POY by USA Today and Kansas Hall of Fame POY as senior at Olathe North (Kan.) HS…Thomas A. Simone Trophy as top big-class FB player in KC metro area…KC Star POY in '99 and '00…two-time allstate, all-metro and All-Sunflower League…as senior, led Olathe North to fourth 6A state title in five years…5,230 yards rushing and 79 TDs during prep career.

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