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Darren Sproles
No. 43     San Diego Chargers
Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: June 20, 1983 (1983-06-20) (age 26)
Place of birth: Waterloo, Iowa
Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) Weight: 181 lb (82 kg)
Career information
College: Kansas State
NFL Draft: 2005 / Round: 4 / Pick: 130
Debuted in 2005 for the San Diego Chargers
Career history
 As player:
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
  • 5th in Heisman voting (2003)
  • 6th most all-purpose yardage in NCAA history
  • Most all-purpose yardage in a playoff game (2009)
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
Rushing Yards     887
Rushing Average     4.5
Total Return Yards     5,979
Total Touchdowns     19
Stats at

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.


Early years

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 lbs.[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.

College career

Darren 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

Year Team Games Attempts Yards YPA TDs Long
2001 Kansas State 6 28 210 7.5 1 38
2002 Kansas State 13 237 1,465 6.2 17 80
2003 Kansas State 15 306 1,986 6.5 16 73
2004 Kansas State 11 244 1,318 5.4 11 74
Career   45 815 4,979 6.1 45 80

Professional career

San Diego Chargers

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. He returned kicks and punts.

He spent the entire 2006 season on IR after breaking his ankle during the preseason.


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.


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.[4][5] 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.


On February 18, 2009, the Chargers placed their franchise tag on Sproles.[6] 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.[7]


Sproles' father Larry played running back at MidAmerica Nazarene University. Larry was 5' 5"[8] [9] Sproles is known by the nickname "Lightning Bug" due to his speed, agility, diminutive stature and the fact the Chargers uniform is adorned with lightning bolts.


  1. ^ Sproles Will Let His Performance Do the Talking - Washington Post. August 25, 2004
  2. ^ Darren Sproles - San Diego Chargers.
  3. ^ Sproles high school Bio. -
  4. ^ Sproles, Chargers shock Colts 23-17 in overtime upset by Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY Jan. 3, 2009 USA Today
  5. ^ Eight questions: Chargers not short on speed by Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports, Jan 7, 2009
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ The Associated Press -

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