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Fells aims to catch on in NFL

Former UCI basketball standout trying to make Seattle Seahawks' roster as tight end.

August 07, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
  • Darren Fells (33), seen here in his basketball playing days for UC Irvine, is now seeking an NFL career as a tight end.
Darren Fells (33), seen here in his basketball playing… (KENT TREPTOW )

When Darren Fells believed his basketball career had reached the end of the line, he merely sprinted up the seam.

The former UC Irvine basketball standout who earned second-team All-Big West Conference honors and led the conference in field-goal percentage as a senior in 2006-07, spent four years in professional basketball, playing for teams in Belgium, Finland, France, Mexico and most recently, last season, in Argentina.

But the 6-foot-7, 275-pounder, who was an All-CIF Southern Section tight end at Fullerton High and turned down football scholarship offers from then-Pac-10 schools to play hoops at UCI, said his dribble began to lose its drive.

So, answering critics who had chirped since he left football behind as a prep, and with the guidance of younger brother Daniel Fells, who is a tight end for the New England Patriots, Darren Fells elected to give football a try.

After months of training, he landed a tryout in March with the Seattle Seahawks, who were so impressed that they reportedly signed him to three-year contract at $495,000 per year.

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Fells was released on May 8, then resigned by the Seahawks 12 days later and he is currently bidding to make the 53-man roster at the team's training camp in Renton, Wash.

"I felt like with basketball, something was missing," said Fells, who averaged 14.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and shot nearly 57% from the field as a senior to help lead the Anteaters to the title game of the conference tournament. "The enjoyment, or whatever, wasn't there anymore. I talked to [Daniel] and he said, 'Why don't you give football a try?'"

Fells, reached by phone at the Seahawks' facility, said he spent 10 months training with his brother and on his own, then spent two months in a more organized regimen at a training center in Carson to ready himself for a potential run at a football contract.

"Coming out of high school, pretty much everybody I knew told me I made a big mistake by taking a basketball scholarship over football," Fells said. "I had always had a love for basketball, but as time went by, I questioned myself whether or not I wanted to keep playing [basketball]. Football was always a lingering thought in my mind."

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