Arizona State University held its pro day Monday ahead of next month's NFL Draft, where wide receiver Frank Darby had the stage to himself to try to impress the scouts in attendance.
"You want to talk about nerves?" Darby said while laughing. "Well, I'm not going to lie, the butterflies didn't leave me until after the 40 [yard dash]. There was a point when I was at the broad jump, my hands just started shaking. I'm just like, 'oh man, no way.' But once the butterflies left my body, I just felt like it was a walk in the park. You've been doing this all your life, and just go out there and just catch the ball and just play fast. Just do what you do, and just always be yourself."
Be yourself -- that's the advice Darby said Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards gave him. For Darby, that's always been extremely upbeat and energetic with a big smile on his face. And Monday was no different. You would have never known that underneath it all was a heavy heart after getting a phone call three weeks ago while training in Florida, telling him his mother had unexpectedly passed away.
"I got myself together knowing I had to keep going because it's the most important thing in my life, and I know this is what she wanted for me," he said. "I've been doing this for five years for her, and she went away on me about three weeks ago, but I'm just happy I was able to just fight through it, keep pushing for her and coming out here and doing what I need to do. I just know she's watching over me."
An opportunity to provide for his family is the reason the New Jersey native decided several months ago against returning to ASU for another senior season like Chase Lucas and others did.
"I was just thinking about my family back home and my mother and my sister, and I remember going to Chase and I told him like if I got the opportunity to go to the Senior Bowl, that's where I'm going to have to go and do what I need to do, you know, just take that risk on myself. I remember just telling him... like I don't think my family could last a year longer without me, you know, just being able to go out there and just help them survive with life."
Darby is trying to become the third Sun Devils receiver drafted in as many years. While N'Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk were both first-round picks, Darby is projected as a backup receiver and special teams contributor for whichever NFL team drafts him.
"I'm going to go out there with energy that's going to push other players to be great and play at the highest level each and every day I practice."
The 6-foot-tall wideout averaged 4.57 seconds on his two 40-yard dashes, a 34.5-inch vertical, and 19 reps on the bench press. He left feeling confident in his performance.
"I trusted my training and went out there and tried to perform at a high level, you know, take advantage of the opportunity," Darby said. "As long as I walk off that field with a smile on my face and my head high, I felt like I did a really good job."