Former UVA RB Devin Darrington looks to turn XFL opportunity into the NFL
ORLANDO, Fl. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, Devin Darrington never expected to be part of a revamped XFL, but the former Virginia running back dared to take a chance.
"My goal was always to play professional football since I was little when I started playing football when I was eight-years-old," Darrington said, "After that just waiting for another opportunity, when the XFL called me, I felt like I had to do it, it's my passion, it's what I love to do."
Darrington waited for a phone call on NFL Draft night a year ago then spent a few days in the Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp, but signing with the XFL's Orlando Guardians was a chance to prove himself again.
"Devin got out to a slow start with a hamstring and once he came back it was pretty nice," Guardians head coach and former NFL cornerback Terrell Buckley said, "You could see every week he was getting better and better and better."
A hamstring strain in training camp put Darrington out for the first three games of the season, providing even more urgency in the remaining seven games.
"I knew I had to be immediately effective missing three games and what my goals are trying to make it to the next level," Darrington said.
The Harvard alum put on his best performance of the season in the second to last game, rushing for 133 yards and a touchdown.
"You could see the burst, you could see the vision and I think once the confidence started to grow, you get something like you had a couple weeks ago," Buckley said.
Darrington's knack for big plays was on display in his one seasons at UVA rushing for more than seven yards per carry and learning to take advantage of each rep in a pass-happy Virginia offense.
"One of the things it taught me was just to be patient, I went from starting the last year I played to just waiting my turn," Darrington said, "Talking to my parents understanding every time I go to practice or get in a game I have to be effective and make the most out of my opportunity and that's exactly what I did."
The patience paid off with Darrington ending the season in the XFL's top-ten in rushing yards and touchdowns, rushing for 294 yards and four touchdowns in only seven games.
"Working with someone like Devin that wants it, that understands work ethic, understands what being a pro, not quite being a professional, but being a pro," Buckley said, "Arrows pointed in the right direction is nice. That's like a refreshing thing for coaches."
Now Darrington's agent and family are optimistic next time his phone rings an NFL team will be on the other line.
"I feel like I never got the opportunity to show what I could do at that level," Darrington said, "So I think the XFL was the perfect opportunity for me to show them that 'hey this kid can ball', so hopefully somebody sees something in me and I get the call."