Now just under five months from opening up the 2015 season under new Coach Jim Harbaugh, Darboh enters his redshirt junior year as Michigan’s leading receiver.
Darboh caught 36 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore. In a football program consistently delivering 1,000 yard receivers throughout its history, Darboh knows its on him to lead a very young group of pass catchers.
“For me personally I feel yeah I need to take that next step,” Darboh said. “Understanding the game more, make more plays and I’ll bring more guys with me.”
In the process of learning his third offense in three years, Darboh, even as a veteran, is approaching the 15 spring practices leading up to Saturday’s spring game as a giant learning experience.
“There’s an opportunity,” Darboh said. “But Coach Harbaugh makes it so everybody has a chance, equal opportunity with a new coaching staff. I would say it’s just like starting over, you’ve got to prove yourself again, especially during the spring time when everyone gets reps with the ones and twos.”
“You just have to put the time in when you’re out of the building, get in the playbook and try to understand the whole concept,” added Darboh. “Ask as many questions as you can to get a hold of the concept.”
Despite 2014 not being the best of years from a statistical standpoint, Darboh can point to some improved individual performances late in the season.
“I feel like I’m getting better at adjusting to the ball and expecting where the quarterback is going to put it,” Darboh said.
“Also where the defender is, which is something I needed to get better at, when the ball is in the air, just read it and make sure if it’s like short to stop and swing the defender by and go get the ball.”
In addition to his own on field performance, Darboh is taking on an expanded leadership role as one of the veterans of the group this spring.
“Me and Jehu (Chesson) both and the other guys feel like we’ve got to bring the other guys up cause we both remember when we were young receivers getting yelled at,” Darboh said.
“Because when you don’t know what you’re doing you don’t go full speed so we try to encourage the guys and try to build a trust and leadership role in the group.”