Frank 'Duracell' Darby provides ASU football's captain corps energy

Wide receiver Frank Darby brings enthusiasm to the ASU football team

Some people drink coffee to wake them up each morning, while others do yoga or go on a run. But for ASU football players, being around graduate senior wide receiver Frank Darby will do the trick — they admit his positive spirit is unmatched.

“There's nobody I’ve ever met in my life to match his energy,” said freshman receiver Johnny Wilson. “We could all come in the morning and be tired and Frank is just like, ‘Let’s go, time to work today.’ It’s a great thing because when everyone else feels sluggish or slumped, he comes in with that energy to light that spark.”

Darby has brought enthusiasm to ASU's locker room since he arrived in 2016 — from his touchdown shimmies, to busting into the media room to celebrate with his teammates during press conferences.

Darby said he can’t turn it off now. 

“I set a tone with me being at this high level of energy," Darby said. "If I’m in here, and I’m down, everyone is going to wonder, ‘What’s wrong with Frank?’ Once you all saw I was this high energy guy, I had to keep it there. I just love it.”

Darby said his nickname is "Duracell" for a reason. His goal is to translate his energy and passion not just to his fellow receivers, but to everyone on offense and defense. 

In a season that won't have the roar of fans in the stands, Darby said he has to make sure he can pump up everyone on the sidelines. 

“When we go to the (Los Angeles Memorial) Coliseum and there’s nobody in there, I’ll be the energy,” Darby said about the Sun Devils upcoming Week 1 matchup at USC. 

“I’m going to go on the defensive side and pump them up," he said. "I’m going to be on the offense side and pump them up. I’m going to get them to pump each other up. We have to use each other’s energy.”

Darby is currently the only returning senior receiver on the team, and he was named a captain for the 2020 season. It's a goal he's had for four years.

He said he was upset last season when he wasn't selected as a team captain, especially when a freshman, former quarterback turned tight end Ethan Long, received the "C" on his jersey before he did. But, Darby finally got the news he has been waiting for from head coach Herm Edwards, and he got emotional. 

"I cried, I really cried," Darby said. "It's amazing because everybody's looking up to me, everybody's listening and I'm leading them the right way. I'm not going to lead them the wrong way."

Along with Darby, sophomore starting quarterback Jayden Daniels, sophomore fullback Case Hatch, junior linebacker Darien Butler and redshirt junior linebacker Kyle Soelle were also named captains for the 2020 season.

Darby is in a new situation as the veteran captain of a young corps of receivers, something he relishes. The Jersey City native said once he was named captain, he watched film on all of “his guys” to be able to better instruct them. He even said he gives offensive linemen little pointers. 

Some of his younger counterparts appreciate that passion. 

“He’s very motivating,” freshman wideout LV Bunkley-Shelton said. “He’s always having energy. At 6 a.m. every day, I come in like, ‘Damn he doesn’t sleep, he’s always up.’ He’s a great leader and great role model and my dad always told me in order to lead you have to learn how to follow and, ‘Im for sure following him.'”

ASU receivers coach Prentice Gill said one of the best things about Darby is he cares about the positive direction of the team, even as a senior who may be in his last training camp. Sometimes Gill has to remind Darby to be a little selfish and not just help others. 

“I keep pushing him to not focus so much on just being a captain but him also growing himself and stepping in the number one role,” Gill said.

ASU has had receivers going in the first round for two consecutive years with N’Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk. Darby played behind them, saying it's a different experience knowing he is the number one guy. He said he loves watching the younger targets competing, doing what he did behind past Sun Devils.  

Darby called his receivers room the best he's ever played with. But, it shows how the senior is stepping up in his new role, sharing his unique energy and positivity to the field every day.

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