Darby had to wait his turn at Arizona State, since the program had two superstars at wideout in N’Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk over the last few seasons. He didn’t disappoint when he finally received his opportunity though.
After being a complementary weapon in the Sun Devils’ offense during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Darby was finally placed into a more prominent role in 2019. That season he hauled in 31 passes for 616 yards and eight touchdowns. Overall, he finished his Arizona State career with 67 catches for 1,317 yards and 13 scores.
One thing NFL analysts rave about when it comes to Darby is his ability to make big-time catches downfield. He’s an excellent vertical threat who uses his speed and strength to his advantage. Although he isn’t considered a Day 1 prospect, there’s a lot to like about his game.
We sat down with Frank Darby to discuss his Arizona State career, playing for Herm Edwards, what it’s like preparing for the NFL Draft and much more.
The Spun: How has this draft process been for you?
Frank Darby: When it first started, it was going great. I was down in Miami training at one of the best facilities with NFL veterans – the environment was great. But then I had a tragedy that happened during the process. I lost my mother. I was down for a little bit, and this was right before my pro day. Two weeks before my pro day I finally felt like my old self. Each day I’m still taking it day by day and trying to enjoy it. Every time I get a call from an NFL team, I have a big smile on my face because this is what my mother wanted for me. I’m getting back to enjoying the process.
The Spun: What’s your favorite Arizona State moment?
FD: My favorite moment was when we beat Oregon in 2019. That was my favorite moment because they let fans storm the field, I scored a big touchdown and you had ESPN cameras in your face. All the stuff you see on TV happening to other guys is finally happening to you. So that’s why I feel like it was the best moment of my college career.
What. A. Catch.
Frank Darby pushes the Sun Devils to a 14-point lead over Oregon!
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) November 24, 2019
The Spun: What was it like playing for Herm Edwards?
FD: It was amazing. I swear it was amazing. He came in there with an NFL mindset and an NFL staff. He treated us as pros. He asked us to be on time and do our jobs. I was always able to be myself, dancing and laughing at practice. I feel like he did a great job of letting us be ourselves. That’s why I think ASU is going to be the next Alabama soon [laughing].
The Spun: I saw you had a hilarious initial reaction to meeting N’Keal Harry. Do you guys talk about the NFL and what to expect?
FD: Oh, yea. I got a lot of advice from him. I had the chance to hang out with him at my pro day. We were talking about his situation and he was telling me what to expect at the next level. He told me I have the film and I take care of my body so he believes I’ll be used to the pros. But he reminded me that I need to remember the NFL is a business at the end of the day. Always be competitive and never slack off because teams can replace you. I know I’ll be prepared for the next level.
"What do you play? D-End?" 😂
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 30, 2021
The Spun: You’ve made so many great catches downfield. What’s your mindset when the ball’s in the air?
FD: My mindset was always changing when I was younger. Every time I got a pass thrown my way, I had the mindset that you’re not getting too many opportunities so you have to make the play. I just try to take advantage of every opportunity my way. Then when I know the ball is coming my way as an upperclassman, I was like ‘That’s mine. If you don’t get that pass, they’ll think you stink.’
The Spun: Do you feel like you’re somewhat flying under the radar?
FD: To be honest, I do. I’m saying that based on what I saw at the Senior Bowl. I was like ‘Wow, I’m the best receiver here.’ It just sucks that I had to wait so long to get the opportunity to show that I’m a No. 1 guy too. I was helping Brandon [Aiyuk] and N’Keal [Harry], so I had to wait before I could be the X-receiver and show what I’m made of. Whoever picks me, they’re going to get the best version of me.
— Josh Taylor (@JoshTaylorWFT) January 28, 2021
The Spun: Which wide receivers do you study on film?
FD: One is Antonio Brown. I like to watch everything about him – the way he works and the way he runs routes. I also watched Michael Thomas because he was going crazy like two seasons ago. I also love to watch Steve Smith Sr. because of his toughness. He was always counted out and told he couldn’t make it, but he competed so hard and ended up being a legend.
The Spun: Who’s the best wideout to ever play?
FD: That’s so tough. I’d probably say Jerry Rice because of what he’s done.
NFL Combine invite secure 🔐
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) March 5, 2021
The Spun: What’s your best quality on the field?
FD: My toughness and my vertical threat. One thing I can definitely do is run vertical routes and change the momentum of the game.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Frank Darby?
FD: I’m telling them that they’re adding energy to their team. I’m a person with a bright future and smile. I’m always good to the people and I can’t wait to score some touchdowns in front of the fans.
“Everything you go through in life prepares you for the next level. I’m thankful for this moment”. Captain StuuupidSwole time has come. Excited for what’s next in the process 😈#getswole-eatswole-stayswole #StuuupidSwole #roadtodraft pic.twitter.com/2Qt3kZhYzP
— Frank Darby (@_SavageSZN8) December 21, 2020
If Darby gets selected later this month, it’ll mark the third NFL Draft in a row that a Sun Devils wide receiver comes off the board.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.