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ASU Football: Hagan's High Praise of Darby

ASU's Derek Hagan spoke with AllSunDevils about receiver Frank Darby.

Arizona State has some replacing to do at the wide receiver position after losing their top pass-catching targets to the first round of the NFL draft in back-to-back years. The player that is bound to step into that role as the new number one receiver on the depth chart is speedster Frank Darby. The senior will have high expectations as he will be following in the footsteps of N'Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk, but ASU's wide receivers and tight ends coach Derek Hagan says there's plenty of reason to believe that Darby can live up to the hype.

Darby's skill set is different from the two wideouts he will be the successor to. But they all have one thing in common, and that's their ability to be sensational at their specialty. "We called [Harry] 50/50 ball N'keal, he was going to make the play regardless, with Aiyuk it was all about his yards after catch, he had the ability to take it to the house whenever he got it. With Frank, we called him Deep Ball Darby, anytime he's running the go route, he's going to be making the play down the field," Hagan said in an interview on Thursday about the current and former Sun Devils.

The common misconception about the 6-foot-1 receiver is that he is just a burner and uses only his speed to create separation. Now that he expects to assume the lead role, he looks to show more versatility to his skillset. "Frank has all the talent in the world. He isn't just a deep ball threat. It was just how we were featuring him since he wasn't the main focus," Hagan explained.

Although Darby always seems to be open on every play, he still has a lot of work to do in regards to improving and polishing his craft. The improvements won't occur from just stepping on the field come game time; it will take practice and a lot of practice at that. "He's got all the tools to be great, and you see it from his work ethic and his willingness to learn. If you want to be that complete No. 1 wide receiver, you got to be able to run a slant, run a curl route and you got to be able to get out of your brakes, and I think that's the stuff he's been working on all offseason," Hagan said.

The senior will also be tasked with leading the way for the freshman receivers, and Hagan knows Darby has what it takes to be in that leadership role to show the younger guys the ropes. With four talented incoming freshmen, Darby can help make the high school to college transition easier on these players so they can be more comfortable within the system and can come in and play right away.

The New Jersey native finished 10th in yards per catch in 2019, averaging just under 20 yards per reception. He and now sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels started to really click towards the latter end of the season, resulting in Frank scoring touchdowns in four straight games. The two were really on the same page during ASU's upset of 6th ranked Oregon in November when the two connected for two touchdowns and 157 yards.

While Darby excelled in getting behind the defense, the senior had some crucial drops during his tenure in Tempe. Hagan, who is a former Sun Devil great and 8-year NFL veteran, gave him high praise, calling him a technician with great hands. Hagan explained what he would tell his 4th-year receiver in order to overcome the issue, "You do all the work, now just finish. It's all about your fundamentals and technique."

Darby has all of the physical attributes to be Daniels' new favorite target and will have the full support from his coaching staff to help him become the third straight Sun Devil receiver to be drafted into the NFL. "There's no one on this team like Frank. It's been fun to watch him grow over the last 3-4 years. The sky's the limit for him."