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Journey to the Arena Dream: Darius Prince, WR, Albany Firebirds

Updated at Mar 27, 2024

Get to know one of the most dynamic receivers in the Arena Football League. Darius Prince has left a legacy of excellence in the AFL and looks to expand it in 2024.

The name Darius Prince strikes fear into defenders who have had the misfortune of lining up against him. It draws dread from those who know they will be covering him. However, the same name draws admiration from teammates, opponents, and fans alike. An AFL legend in his own right, he looks to build on to his already impressive resumé, and take over the league once again with his loaded repertoire.

There are going to be lots of factors coming together to affect the season at hand: deflating rumors, front office opportunities, past successes, and future expectations. All of these have come together and lit a fire under Darius Prince. The league is going to have to continue to watch out for him.

Unlikely Beginnings

With a player as celebrated as Darius Prince, you would think that his football roots ran deep. On the contrary, he did not even start playing football until after college. His collegiate years were actually spent playing basketball at division three Penn State Beaver and Penn State Greater Allegheny. After four years and 1,700 career points, he attempted professional ball overseas. After some turbulence, he decided to make the switch to football. There was no launching pad for him; he started at the bottom in semi-pro ball, having to pay for his own helmet and shoulder pads. He then made the leap to the Erie Explosion of the CIFL but without much playing time.

The genesis of his career would come with the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in 2016. Originally offered a two-day trial, he earned his way onto the team in the final team scrimmage. The Prince seized his opportunity, earning his way to 1st Team All-NAL honors. The next stop was with the Philadelphia Soul where he contributed in a major way. The Soul would be crowned ArenaBowl XXX champions, and Prince would earn the title of ArenaBowl XXX MVP. His performance in the 2017 & 2018 seasons would earn him a training camp opportunity with the Philadelphia Eagles; however, he fell just shy of making the 53 man roster. The journey would then take him to the San Antonio Commanders (AAF), the New York Guardians (XFL), and finally to his beloved Albany Empire (NAL).

Building the Legend

The legend of Darius Prince would take root there in Albany. Firstly, he came away with back-to-back NAL Championships in 2021 & 2022. In his debut season with Albany, he swept the entire league, leading the regular season in receptions, yards, yards per game, and touchdowns –the Quadruple Crown! That kind of performance deserves nothing less than the title of 2022 National Arena League MVP. The 2022-23 season would have been equally as exceptional, but after splitting time between Albany (Antonio Brown ownership) and Orlando, some stats were lost in the wash. Still, he led the league in yards per game and was toward the top of all other receiving categories.

Revenge

Prince is coming into this next season with a sizable chip on his shoulder. Although his main goal is to help his team win, there is no doubt that he was disrespected last season on an individual level. He was lights out from a production standpoint and was technically given All-NAL 1st Team honors… but as a returner. The man who was a top producer in every category and a key part of the Albany offense was given a trophy for his side gig. Rumors have spread, and the people have talked, but Prince is coming back to shake things up.

“I feel like I got something to prove, and that’s scary [for them].”

The Firebirds Fit

Albany has been good to Prince, and he sure has been good to Albany. He will unquestionably be captain of the offense, but he is also taking on an important role in the preseason. He has been in the office early to work with the coaching staff during the recruiting process. He and Coach Damon Ware have been putting their good history to work, reviewing film and building the future offense. His relationship with Coach Ware has gone on for four years now, and he has played with defensive coordinator Dwayne Hollis since 2017. So, there is undoubtedly high camaraderie between him and the staff.

“As long as we got Coach Ware at the head of the table, I think we are in really good hands.”

As far as quarterbacks go, they are all strangers to working with Darius Prince, and it is unclear who will be QB1. Evan Lewandowski is coming out of the University of Wisconsin Whitewater for his rookie season, Jake Medlock has had some menial arena experience, and Will Arndt is stepping into his first role as a player in two years.

“At the end of the day, when I look up at that scoreboard and we have a win in the column, that’s all I care about.”

Championship Part 4

With one ArenaBowl and two NAL Championships under his belt, Prince will not be letting up on his ambitions or his expectations for the season, nor should he. Many players across many teams have expectations of winning the Arena Bowl, but for Prince and the Empire, this seems like a no-brainer. It is a historically dominant program, and Prince is a historically dominant player.

“I’m picking it to be my best year yet. I’m coming to get another MVP this season.”

Tale of the Tape

Darius Prince has been a dominant force in Arena Football since he made his AFL debut in 2017. Starting in his first full season, 2018, Prince became the class of the AFL. With back-to-back 20+ touchdown seasons in 2018 and 2019 to go with 162 total catches and 2,012 yards made him one of the premier offensive players.

Prince spent time with Albany and Orlando of the NAL and posted prolific numbers again. Over the course of 24 games with Albany and Orlando, Prince posted 211 receptions, 2,587 yards, and 67 touchdowns. That included an earth-shattering 39 during the 2021-22 season.

Prince is an explosive athlete who makes plays at all levels of the receiving game. Look for him to be one of the best in the AFL this season.

Screenshot 2024-03-24 225228.png Stats Courtesy of Arena Fan

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