<strong>July 22, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://www.chargers.com/news/pr_headline_detail.cfm?press_release_key=515">Chargers.com</a>
The San Diego Chargers have reached an agreement with running back and return specialist Darren Sproles on a four-year contract.
The Kansas State standout was selected in the fourth round with the 130th overall choice in the 2005 NFL Draft. While in Manhattan, Sproles rushed for a Kansas State career record 4,979 yards, a figure that ranks 11th all-time on the NCAA career rushing chart and third on the Big 12 Conference career record list. He also totaled a conference-record 6,812 all-purpose yards, which ranks sixth on the NCAA's all-time list. In all, Sproles set 23 school records during his collegiate career.
"Darren Sproles is an outstanding running back and one of the top players to play in a great conference like the Big 12," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "He'll be in the mix in the return game, but we could have various packages to use him in. There's a lot of quickness and suddenness about him that's eye catching. We're excited to have him in the fold."
As a junior in 2003, Sproles (5-6, 181) finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy and third in the Associated Press Player of the Year voting. He was runner-up for the Doak Walker Award and named the Big 12 Player of the Year by College Football News. Sproles led the nation in total rushing yards with a K-State single-season record 1,986 on 306 carries (6.5 avg.). The Olathe, Kan. native followed that up with a first-team All-Big 12 performance as a senior in 2004.
The Chargers now have three unsigned draft picks, including linebacker Shawne Merriman (Maryland, first round), defensive tackle Luis Castillo (Northwestern, first), and wide receiver Vincent Jackson (Northern Colorado, second).
Rookies will practice next Tuesday and Wednesday, July 26-27 before being joined on the field by the veterans on Friday. Tuesday's and Wednesday's practices are closed to the public. Fans are invited to attend full-squad practices beginning on Friday, July 29.