Preparing for NFL Draft and learning of mother's death, Frank Darby still smiles

The wide receiver showcased his talents at ASU's Pro Day Monday and later revealed he stopped training for a week after learning of his mother's death

Former ASU wide receiver Frank Darby continues to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft after he declared his intentions to enter it in December. He showcased his skills at ASU's Pro Day in Tempe Monday, performing as if he hadn't removed his cleats since his final game.

However, after receiving a phone call three weeks ago, he took his cleats off and set them aside.

"In the process, I had lost my mom," Darby said. "It was very unexpected. I just got a phone call when I had just left (House of Athlete in Weston, Florida), I was like 'Wow, really?'"

Darby paused his training for a week after learning of his mother's death but decided to come back to train for another two weeks to make her proud.

"I got myself together and (I knew) I had to keep going because it's the most important thing in my life, and I know this is what she wants for me," Darby said. 

But even when talking about his mother, Darby still sported a smile. "It's okay, you see this smile on my face? You would never have even thought of it because I'm just sitting here with energy and smiling," Darby said.

Darby declared for the draft with his family at the front of his mind, and it pushed him throughout his workout Monday. He also brought the trademark energy that many came to know in his time at ASU, something he wants to be remembered for. 

He believes that contagious energy, along with toughness, is what will make him successful at the NFL level.

"I'm going to go out there and push other players to be great and play at a high level each and every day I practice," Darby said. "My energy and the way I compete, and the passion I have to play football, I know a lot of guys will follow me."

Darby also wants to showcase his ability as a deep threat, being someone who is "going to go out there and change the game." He showcased his ability to create big plays downfield throughout his ASU career, totaling 19.7 yards per reception.

In one of his favorite games as a Sun Devil, a win over No. 6 Oregon in 2019, he finished with four receptions for 125 yards, good for an average of 31.3 yards per reception.

Most projections have Darby being selected in the fifth round of the draft. Pro Football Network projects him being selected in the fifth round, and CBS Sports projects him to be selected as the first pick of that round.

Darby could become ASU's third wide receiver drafted in as many years, following in the footsteps of N'Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk, both of whom were selected in the first round of their respective drafts.

"When I was training with them (Harry and Aiyuk), they talked about being drafted, and I'm doing a similar thing, I'm just like, 'I can be a draft pick, too,'" Darby said. "When I get my opportunity to go out there and catch some more footballs and make some more plays, maybe I get spoken about going to the NFL."

Now, Darby is not just having that conversation, he is weeks away from it becoming a reality.

"I'm just blessed and I'm happy I got to this point in my life," Darby said. "I got to go out there and do what I needed to do."


Reach the reporter at drodish@asu.edu and follow @david_rodish on Twitter.

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