Sproles says 'Nahhhh' to the NFL

Everyone is making a fuss about it but Darren Sproles.

So Darren, is exploring your options for an early-entry into the National Football League a possibility?

"Nahh, not right now it's not," said Sproles.

Not right now, you say. Could it be an option after the bowl game?

"I don't know," answered the Wildcat all-American running back.

So, it was Sproles who was leaving the door slightly ajar at Tuesday's K-State press conference after his father, Larry, swung open the door last week after his son was not invited to New York City for the Heisman presentation and now awarded the Doak Walker Award.

''Anything can happen,'' the elder Sproles said. ''How many yards is he going to have to get next year (to win the Heisman)? Is he going to have to get 3,000?''

The younger Sproles, however, is his own man, and at least outwardly, he said not winning the Doak Walker Award and not going to the Heisman festivities was no big deal.

"It was fine with me,'' he said. ''I didn't really care about not going to New York."

Sproles did make the trip to Orlando, Fla., for the ESPN Award's Show, but even that was more out of obligation.

"I don't think Darren cares about awards," said offensive guard Ryan Lilja. "I can't speak for him, but I don't think it was anything he was all ginned up to do. It's just not his personality. It's something he felt that he had to do. I think he did it more for the team."

Lilja was right.

In this era of "me," Sproles is totally "we."

On rushing for nearly 2,000 yards, Sproles said, "Mainly because my o-line was blocking for me. That's how I got them (yards)."

And who did he think deserved the Walker Award?

"I thought it was going to be Chris Perry or Kevin Jones," he said.

And how does it sound to be an all-American?

''Nice,'' he said. ''I was surprised.''

And would he even want to go through all the interviews that go with the Heisman Award television special.

Laughing, Sproles said, "No I wouldn't, to tell you the truth."

Of his running back, coach Michael Smith says, "He's special. He is a special, special, special person. There is no reason he shouldn't have won the Doak Walker and there is no reason he shouldn't have been invited to New York for the Heisman. But he will come out today, and will come out tomorrow and work hard and keep fighting to get to where he wants to be.

"His goal is to play in the NFL and to be as good as he can be and help this team win," Smith said.

That's this year, and next ... at Kansas State.

"The kid doesn't want to leave. He likes his teammates and wants to win a national championship and wants to put Kansas State at the pinnacle of college football," Smith said. "I think he has a lot to prove and I think he wants to win the Heisman. He knows it goes to the top college football player and it's something that can not be taken away."

In recent years, Chris Canty left K-State after his junior season and was a first-round draft choice by New England after the 1997 season. Jerametrius Butler left after the 2001 season and was a fifth-round selection by St. Louis, and Terry Pierce left after the 2002 season and became a second-round selection by Denver.

Josh Buhl also considered an early-out last year, but opted to return when learning he would likely not go before the fourth round.

"I was pretty close (to leaving)," Buhl said. "I weighed out the pros and cons. There was the opportunity to make money, but there were other things on the other side like winning a Big 12 Championship. That's why I stayed."

Buhl admits that he's had "a couple" conversations with Sproles about his future, but said, "I don't know how much he's thinking about it."

Taking an absolute non-partial look to Sproles' future, or one from his family's possible view, there are plenty of sound reasons to explore his NFL options.

•Awards honestly aren't why he plays the game.

•The records ... they're all his now.

•The dollars ... millions of them; millions of them that could vanish with one twisted knee.

•There would be life without Ell Roberson. No matter who might be plugged in at quarterback, life would be tougher for Sproles in 2004.

•While projected as a second-rounder, he may go higher just because teams needing a back will be petrified that they're passing on the next Barry Sanders.

And the reason(s) to return?

Four years ago, Darren Sproles made a four-year commitment to Kansas State.

While few with his words, it's the feeling here that Sproles' word will be good.

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