Skip to main content

ASU Football: 2020-This is the Year of Frank Darby

This is the year for Arizona State WR Frank Darby to burst through the ceiling

Every player is capable of making plays, but every great player has a moment. A moment when they separate themselves from the rest of the pack. A moment that propels them to the next level.

Arizona State receivers have seen greatness turn to fruition recently, as the program has now successfully produced two consecutive first-round picks in the NFL Draft: N’Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk.

While both players consistently made plays, the moment they captured the attention of the national landscape became clear: Harry’s came in the form of a back-shoulder touchdown catch over Michigan State’s Justin Layne to eventually upset the 15th ranked Spartans, while Aiyuk’s moment came on an 81 yard touchdown catch to seal a Sun Devils victory over 6th ranked Oregon.

ASU receiver Frank Darby is ready for his moment.

In Arizona State’s 31-28 victory over Oregon last fall, many remember Aiyuk gliding down the sideline and reaching the endzone with four minutes left to put the Sun Devils ahead by two possessions. While Aiyuk put the exclamation point on the work, it was none other than Darby who caught two key touchdown passes from Jayden Daniels beforehand.

2019 saw Darby haul in 31 receptions for 616 yards and eight touchdowns, with his final four regular season contests featuring a score (three of four featured multiple TD games) after a relatively slow start. Playing as a number two receiver behind Aiyuk, Darby garnered PAC-12 honorable mention honors.

Now with an established connection with quarterback Jayden Daniels and an opportunity to become the Sun Devils’ top receiving option, all signs are clear for Darby to take off in 2020.

With names such as Ja’Marr Chase (LSU), Justyn Ross (Clemson), Rondale Moore (Purdue), Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) and Chris Olave (Ohio State) headlining the 2021 NFL Draft, cracking the first-round and providing a three-peat of ASU receivers appears to be a daunting task. Andrew Harbaugh, College/NFL Draft writer for Blue Chip Scouting, sees all the potential in Darby:

“(Darby) graded higher than N'Keal Harry or Brandon Aiyuk at this point” said Harbaugh. “I really think he can be better than both of them and be a first round pick.”

Harbaugh also noted Darby’s abilities to make catches in traffic, his excellent handwork at the line of scrimmage and his ability to create separation as a few scouting notes on Darby ahead of 2020. Darby returns to the field in 2020 after finishing top ten nationally in yards per reception (19.87) and providing a 133.1 NFL quarterback rating when targeted.

2020 appears to be a tough season to project how players will fare on the field, let alone a football season. Should Darby continue his hot finish from 2019 and put up the needed production to pair with his valued traits as a wideout, Darby should hear his name called relatively early in the 2021 NFL Draft.

For now, however, the focus remains on entering the end zone at Sun Devil Stadium as frequently as possible and helping ASU hit the next level. What that next level precisely is can be debated, but the path guys like Aiyuk and Harry have paved for future receivers cannot.

2020 is set to be Frank Darby’s moment.