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Darren Sproles

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Place of birth:  Waterloo, Iowa
Height  1.68 m
College:  Kansas State
Weight  86 kg
Rushing yards:  2,834
Spouse  Michel Hunt (m. 2010)
Name  Darren Sproles

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Position:  Running back / Return specialist
Date of birth:  (1983-06-20) June 20, 1983 (age 32)
NFL draft:  2005 / Round: 4 / Pick: 130
Role  American football running back
Current team  Philadelphia Eagles (#43 / Running back)
Education  Olathe North High School, Kansas State University
Similar People  Ryan Mathews, DeMarco Murray, Michel Hunt, LeSean McCoy, Jordan Matthews

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Darren Lee Sproles (born June 20, 1983) is an American football running back and return specialist for the Philadelphia Eagles. He played college football at Kansas State, where he is the all-time leading rusher, and was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

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Sproles was named as a kick returner on the Chargers 50th Anniversary Team. He joined the New Orleans 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). Sproles is currently ranked 8th in career all-purpose yards in NFL history (19,020 yards).

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In December 2016, Sproles announced 2017 would be his final season.

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Early years

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Darren 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. Sproles was a star in football, earning the name "Tank", after having been born at 10 lb (4.5 kg). 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.

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Sproles 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. In 2000, during his senior year, 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.

Track and field

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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.

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Sproles has achieved personal bests of 10.6 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.6 seconds in the 200 meters.

College career

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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 fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. He graduated with a degree in speech pathology.

San Diego Chargers

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

Sproles 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 season

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 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 career 100+ yard rushing game.

2008 season

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 Round 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. 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 season

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

2010 season

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

2011 season

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.

On September 8, 2011, 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, 2011, 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 touchdown 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, 2011, 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). 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 1, 2012, in the last regular season game, a 45-17 blowout of 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 broke the NFL record for all-purpose yards in a season (2,696). Sproles played in both of the Saints' playoff games, scoring 3 touchdowns, including a 44-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter of a celebrated back-and-forth contest against the San Francisco 49ers that the Saints ultimately lost 36-32.

Sproles broke over 1000 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).

2012 season

On November 2, 2012, Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt announced that Sproles would be out indefinitely due to a fractured hand. Sproles returned in Week 12 and played in the Saints' remaining games, finishing the season with 48 rushes for 244 yards and 1 touchdown, 75 catches for 667 yards and 7 touchdowns, 18 kickoff returns for 483 yards, and 23 punt returns for 183 yards.

2013 season

In 2013, Sproles played in 15 regular season games, running for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns on 53 carries, making 71 catches for 604 yards and 2 touchdowns, 12 kickoff returns for 225 yards, and 29 punt returns for 194 yards. He played in both of the Saints' playoff games, with 7 runs for 31 yards and 9 catches for 63 yards.

2014 season

On March 13, 2014, Sproles was acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a 2014 5th-round draft pick. Drew Brees was quoted after the trade: "You only see a Darren Sproles type of player come around once in your career."

In his first regular season game with the Eagles, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had 11 carries for a total of 71 yards and had 1 rushing touchdown (49 yards, which was the longest run of his career). He won offensive player of the week in Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts, rushing for 26 yards and a touchdown on 4 carries and catching 7 receptions for 152 yards, 2 of which were over 50 yards.

In 2014, Sproles played in 15 regular season games, running for 329 yards and 6 TDs on 57 carries, making 40 catches for 387 yards, 1 kickoff return for 15 yards, and 39 punt returns for 506 yards and 2 TDs, good for second place on the Eagle's all-time single-season PR yards, and the most in the NFL in 2014. For his efforts, he was elected to his first career Pro Bowl, where he was drafted as a return specialist but contributed on offense, recording 3 carries for 42 yards and 6 catches for 79 yards. He was also named second team All-Pro as a return specialist, his first time on an All-Pro team.

2015 season

Starting the 2015 season, much hype surrounded the Eagles signing NFL Rushing Champ DeMarco Murray and San Diego starter Ryan Mathews, leading to speculation that Sproles would get less playing time. In the season opener against the Falcons, Sproles rushed for 50 yards on five attempts and caught seven passes for 76 yards, as well as returning 3 punts for 25 yards. Meanwhile, Murray and Mathews rushed for a combined 11 carries and 13 yards, although they each scored a touchdown rushing while Sproles did not.

In Week 3, DeMarco Murray did not play due to injury, but the Eagles running game prospered under Mathews and Sproles. Sproles was named NFC Special Teams player of the week for returning a punt 89 yards for the touchdown. He also rushed for 17 yards and one touchdown, helping the Eagles win their first game of the season against the 2-0 Jets, 24-17.

Sproles was given his largest workload since the 2009 season in a Week 13 game against the 10-1 New England Patriots, due to the ineffectiveness of Murray and Mathews being hurt. Sproles had 15 carries for 66 yards, 4 catches for 34 yards, and 5 punt returns for 115 yards and a touchdown in the 35-28 upset win. Sproles followed it up with a solid game against the Bills, with 7 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 win.

Sproles finished the regular season with 3 rushing touchdowns, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 punt return touchdowns, leading the NFL for the second consecutive year. Sproles was selected to his second straight Pro Bowl, and was named First Team All-Pro, his second straight year as an All-Pro and his first first team selection.

2016 season

On July 29, 2016, Sproles signed a one-year $4.5 million contract extension with the Eagles through 2017. Sproles was an immediate weapon out of the backfield, catching 10 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in the first three games of the season, however he was also held to only 51 yards on 19 carries rushing in that same timespan. In a Week 8 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Sproles took over as the lead back, carrying the ball 15 times for 86 yards and catching 5 passes for 17 yards. Sproles would retain the lead back role the following week against the New York Giants, rushing 13 times for 57 yards, catching 3 passes for 14 yards, and gaining 76 yards on 2 punt returns. On November 7, the day after the Giants game, head coach Doug Pederson officially named Sproles as the starting back.

NFL records

  • Most combined total return yards in a two-game playoff span (2008): 602
  • Most All-purpose yards in a single season (2011): 2,696
  • Chargers franchise records

  • Most career kickoff return yards (6,469)
  • Saints franchise records

  • Most All-purpose yards (season): 2,696 (2011)
  • Eagles franchise records

  • Most career punt return touchdowns: 4 (Tied with DeSean Jackson)
  • Personal life

    Sproles's father, Larry, played running back at MidAmerica Nazarene University. Larry was 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) tall. His mother Annette died of cancer in April 2004.

    Sproles maintains his off-season home near San Diego in Poway, California.

    References

    Darren Sproles Wikipedia


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