Darden Selected in NFL Draft|
April 19, 1998
Former Texas Tech multi-position football star Tony Darden was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of the National Football League draft Sunday.
A second-team all-Big 12 selection as a cornerback in 1997, Darden was the 36th selection in the seventh round by the Vikings. The selection of the San Antonio (Texas) Holmes High School product marked the third-straight season that a Red Raider has been picked in the NFL draft. He is the first Red Raider to be selected by Minnesota since defensive back Leonard Jones in 1987 and is only the fourth Texas Tech player to ever be selected by the Vikings in the history of the franchise.
Originally signed by Texas Tech as a quarterback, Darden played three positions for the Red Raiders, eventually settling at cornerback for his last two seasons. He concluded his senior season with 32 tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions. "I am tickled to see that Tony is going to get a chance to play at the next level at an excellent franchise like the Minnesota Vikings," said Texas Tech Head Coach Spike Dykes in a statement released by the school's media relations office. "I expect that he will work hard to have a chance make the team and do the things that are necessary to become a professional football player. Tony is a great athlete and has overcome a lot of adversity and position changes throughout his career and it is great to see him have a chance to realize his dream." Several other Texas Tech football players are expected to sign free agent contracts with NFL teams throughout the next several days. Quarterback Zebbie Lethridge, free safety Dane Johnson and linemen Chris Whitney and Jay Pugh are a few of the names mentioned by pro scouts as possible free agents. At a recent testing session conducted by pro scounts in Lubbock, Lethridge was impressive, posting a career-best 4.39 in the 40-yard dash.