Texas College Offensive Player of the Year: North Texas WR Jaelon Darden

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When North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden finished his last college football game – a 45-43 win over UTEP – he walked into the interview room and dropped a bag filled with four footballs, one for each touchdown he scored that day. 

If Darden did that at the end of the season, we would all simply be drowning in pigskin.

In just nine games, the 5-foot-9 Darden led the nation with 19 touchdowns. Only one receiver since 2015 reached that mark; it took LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase 14 games to reach the 20-touchdown plateau. 

Even in a tough year for North Texas, the Houston product has established himself as one of the most electric football players in America. For his performance, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football has named North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden the 2020 Texas College Offensive Player of the Year. 

“Throughout the year, I’ve said it a number of times and ways, the amount of work he puts into this game there’s a reason why he goes out there and makes the plays he does on game days,” North Texas coach Seth Littrell told Texas Football. “He’s been an unbelievable guy to coach and he deserves all the recognition coming his way. I think the plays he’s made this year, all the touchdowns, all the yards, all the catches in only nine games, I think he’s had a phenomenal year.” 

Texas Football announces 2020 All-Texas College Teams

After legendary quarterback Mason Fine left for the NFL, it was unclear how North Texas could find consistent production through the air. Darden seemed to take the question personality and took it out on the field. 

In addition to leading the nation in receiving touchdowns, he also ranks top-three in receiving yards, yards after the catch and yards per route run. He also reached career records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns during the abbreviated season. 

By the way, this hasn’t been a prolific pass offense when Darden is not the focus. In fact, UNT quarterbacks complete 17 percent fewer of their pass attempts and average 3.3 fewer yards per pass attempt when they target anyone except Darden. Defenses knew exactly what to expect. They still couldn’t stop it. 

There’s only one receiver in America that could match Jaelon Darden’s production and impact for North Texas, and Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith could win the Heisman Trophy in a few weeks. That’s how good Darden has been in 2020. 

Not bad for a hard-working kid from Houston who needed a stroke of luck just to get an FBS scholarship. 

Before North Texas, Darden earned All-District honors in his final two seasons at Aldine Eisenhower. As a junior, he rushed for 869 yards and 10 touchdowns and added 637 yards and five touchdowns through the air.

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