SE: Ring of Honor Part 4 | Against All Odds

September 16, 2015
By Kelly McHugh-Stewart
  
His entire football career, K-State football great Darren Sproles (2001-04) has been proving people wrong.
  
At 5-foot-7, Sproles wasn’t expected to have the career he had at Kansas State, he wasn’t expected to become the greatest running back in Wildcat history or to get inducted into the K-State Football Ring of Honor – but he did.
  
People said he was too small to play the college game. He didn’t listen; instead, he went to work. 
  
During his four years in Manhattan, Sproles accumulated a school-record 4,979 yards. By his senior season in 2004, he broke 23 school records and gained national recognition in 2003 after finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy race. Today, he holds 16 K-State records and is in the top 10 of 43 other lists. 
  
And when he was chosen 130th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2004 NFL Draft, critics repeated themselves saying he was too small for the NFL where the players are even bigger and faster.
  
He didn’t listen then either.  
  
“I play better with a chip on my shoulder,” said Sproles to a group of reporters the afternoon before he was inducted into the K-State Football Ring of Honor. “When you’ve been in the league so long, people tell you you’re getting too old. They say I’ve lost a step, so I’m still proving people wrong. Even now.”
  
A reporter chimed in, “So Darren, have you lost a step?”
  
“No,” he responded with no hesitation. A smile shot across his face. 
  
Sproles is now in his 11th season in the NFL, and he definitely hasn’t lost his drive. The Olathe, Kansas, native ranks 16th in NFL history with 16,883 all-purpose yards and also holds the single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,696 in 2011 with the New Orleans Saints. Playing for the Chargers, Saints and Eagles, Sproles has accumulated more than 2,500 rushing yards in his pro career and played in his first Pro Bowl in 2014. 
  
It was Sproles’ heart and his hard work ethic that got him through his time at K-State and it is that same heart and hard work ethic that continues to help him shine in the NFL.
  
“Never give up, that is my biggest thing,” Sproles said about his mindset. “Never give up. There are times, (when I) think it’s too hard, but it’s never that hard. It’s never worth it to quit.”
  
Earlier this month, Sproles was one of four K-State football players – joined by Jordy Nelson, Michael Bishop and Clarence Scott – to be inducted into the K-State Football Ring of Honor. He spent the weekend in the Little Apple and celebrated his Wildcat football career with those closest to him. 
  
“Sean (Snyder) called me in April. I was on my way to go train, and when he called and told me, I was shocked, surprised, happy, everything,” explained Sproles. “It means a lot. To be up there, with all the greats, that’s big.” 
  
Sproles’ name is now displayed in Bill Snyder Family Stadium among K-State football’s greats for all to see. With his recent induction into the Ring of Honor, he will forever be part of the K-State football story and remembered among its most elite players for years to come. 
  
But what is the most important thing he wants people to know about his path? 
  
“What I mainly want people to know is how hard I really worked,” he closed. “That’s the main thing that I want people to know. Being here, it molded me to be a hard worker. I learned to never let somebody else work harder than you.”
  
Today’s story concludes K-State Sports Extra’s four-part series on this year’s K-State Football Ring of Honor class. To read Part 1 | Michael Bishop Seizes Opportunity, please click here. To check out Part 2 | Clarence Scott Celebrates Exciting Football Past, pleaseclick here. For Part 3 | Nelson’s Hard Work Pays Off, please click here
   
Also see
K-STATE HOLDS WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
K-State head coach Bill Snyder and select players addressed the media yesterday afternoon prior to the Wildcats matchup with Louisiana Tech this weekend. For video and quotes from yesterday’s press conference, please click here
  

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.