9th Man Nation

PHILLY’S NEWEST ‘FRESH PRINCE’ STARTING SEASON STRONG

Courtesy: Philadelphia Soul Media Relations

WR Darius Prince makes a football comeback as the Soul’s top receiver

PHILADELPHIA, PA –  As we’ve discussed previously, the Philadelphia Soul have been the model of consistency, with several key players entering their third, fourth, and even fifth seasons with the team. However, it is a relative newcomer at the starting Wide Receiver position that’s making a name for himself early in the 2018 season. Darius Prince (6’1’’, 185 lbs, Penn State-Beaver) has gotten off to a hot start, as he leads the league in both receptions (28) and receiving yards (329). It would be natural to assume that Prince was always a standout football player before arriving in Philadelphia. However, he hasn’t always been in the football spotlight. In fact, it took hard work, dedication and perseverance for him to even be given a chance to get back into a sport he loved.

Prince grew up in McKeesport, PA, about 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, with two older brothers. Although they had their fair share of sibling rivalry, Prince explained that his brothers were always supportive of him and his dreams.

“I mean, I still got picked on for being the little brother,” said Prince. “But they always had my back, even though we had our normal brother moments.”

Prince graduated from West Mifflin Area High School in West Mifflin, PA. While there he was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and track. While talented in all three, he had a true passion for basketball, which started at age six.

“Basketball was my first love,” said Prince, when reflecting on his early sports career. “It was the first sport I ever played so I became attached to it.”

Although Prince also proved himself to be a skilled football player in high school, he took an opportunity to play basketball collegiately at Penn State – Beaver where he also earned his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. During his time there, Prince earned United States Collegiate Athletic Association All-American honors, as he averaged 22.5 points per game. After his time on campus was up, he found himself missing the “other” sport of football, and decided that he wanted to get back into it. So how did he find himself back in football at all, let alone excelling in it? Unfortunately for Prince, landing a spot on a roster proved difficult without film and credible experience.

“No one wanted to take a chance on me at first,” explained Prince. “I played basketball in college so I had to get back out there and prove myself.”

Prince worked tirelessly to get himself in front of as many teams as possible. He played on a semi-professional team in Pittsburgh for two years to build himself a resume. After trying out and attending training camps for multiple AFL and CFL teams, Prince finally caught the break he was looking for.

The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks of the National Arena League signed Prince as a wide receiver following a two-day contract during training camp in 2017. The season turned out to be the best regular season in Steelhawks history (9-1). In his 10 games with the Steelhawks, Prince totaled 57 receptions for 718 yards and 20 touchdowns, and was named All-NAL First Team. Soon following Prince’s stellar season with Lehigh Valley, he garnered the attention of the Soul’s Assistant Head Coach and General Manager, Phil Bogle.

“Prince caught our eye with his natural ability to catch the football with his hands and athleticism,” said Bogle. “With a basketball background he has the ability to go up and high point the football and has great run-after-the-catch ability.”

Prince made his Soul debut in Game 1 of the 2017 playoffs, where he quickly became a proven asset to the team as he totaled four receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown. Prince continued to shine as he recorded five receptions for 27 yards and two touchdowns in ArenaBowl XXX, earning himself MVP honors.

“Since I started so late in the season, it was hard to get adjusted at first,” said Prince. “Now I’ve had time to study and learn from the best. Having Clint, Dan, “SK” and “Money” to help me out has been amazing.”

Parlaying his big finish in 2017 into a starting role for the 2018 season, Prince has stepped up as the newest addition to the starting offense in the role that was occupied for years by another underdog story, and open tryout signee, fan favorite and former Soul WR Ryan McDaniel. In addition to his league-leading 28 receptions and 329 yards, Prince has tallied six touchdowns over the first four weeks of the season.

“I have big shoes to fill,” said Prince regarding McDaniel. “But I am ready to keep putting in the work and doing my thing here this season.”

Prince continues to work hard and is ready to do whatever it takes to not only win, but be a top receiver in the league. Keep your eye out for Prince during the next game on Saturday, May 19, as the Soul go for their 21st straight win at home. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. Visit www.philadelphiasoul.com to get your tickets.

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