Linebacker Darryl Sharpton was drafted by the Texans in the fourth round (102nd overall) out of Miami (Fla.) in late April.
Sharpton (6-0, 235) led the Hurricanes with a career-high 106 tackles as a senior in 2009. He was the recipient of the team's Hardest Hitter Award and earned team co-MVP honors.
With organized team activities on the horizon, we caught up with Sharpton for a "10 Questions" interview about his nickname, his famous uncle and his favorite hit from his days at Miami.
1. Where are you these days, and what have you been doing to stay in shape?
"I'm in Miami. I've just been continuing to work hard and work out at school with some of my old teammates, running up hills and lifting weights and just trying to be in the best shape of my life and getting ready for the next level, the next saga in my life."
2. Ben Tate, your fellow Texans draft pick, has been training in Miami this offseason. Have you seen him much of him down there?
"We've been keeping in touch, definitely. When I left college and first started training, we started working out together at the same facility, so that's when we started talking and we became friends. It was just a crazy coincidence that we ended up getting drafted by the same team. I went against him at the Senior Bowl in some one-on-one drills, like the pass rush drills we were doing in practice that week. So I guess when I get to the camps and stuff that we'll be doing the same thing."
3. Who got the best of it between you two in Senior Bowl practices?
"Oh, man. If you ask him, he's going to say he did. If you ask me, I'm going to say that I did. But I think that we both did a good job. He did a great job in pass protection a couple of times. I was kind of surprised. Everybody there was used to being the man and a dominant person, and when you go against the best of the best every once in a while, you meet a guy who you can almost say you met your match. He did a great job. I remember thinking, 'Oh, this guy, he's actually pretty good.' I remember one time he kind of jammed me up a little bit more than I liked to be in pass protection. So he definitely showed me has a good skill set and that he's definitely a hard worker."
4. There are four other former Miami guys on the Texans' roster – Andre Johnson, Eric Winston, Chris Myers, Rashad Butler. Have you talked to any of them since draft?
"I talked to Eric Winston briefly. He just gave me a little insight in terms of what to expect, what attitude to come with. It's kind of funny because I remember when I was on my recruiting visit for the University of Miami, he was the first guy that I ever talked to from UM, and then again he was the first guy to reach out to me when I'm going to the Texans. It's kind of another crazy coincidence. I remember clearly when I first talked to him: I was at a little pizza restaurant whenever I was getting recruited, and he was talking to me and giving me the same kind of guidelines when I was heading to Miami."
5. When OTAs start, what do you think you'll contribute to the team and how do you see yourself fitting in?
"I see myself as a complete, hard-nosed linebacker, and when I get there, I'm going to be just that. I'm going to line up and get in my stance, I'm going to look at my reads, I'm going to go 100 miles per hour, make a bunch of tackles, hit hard, display my power and do what I need to do to help this team win as many games as possible."
6. You were listed at 5-11 at the combine. How do you respond when people might say you don't have prototypical size?
"Yeah, that's a question that has come up from time to time. Sometimes people ask, 'Man, what do you play? You play corner or something?' But I never even saw myself as being undersized. Maybe that's just my ego. When I see myself, unless I'm looking at somebody side-to-side in the mirror, sometimes I feel like I'm bigger than guys that are bigger than me. I feel like I'm big. I feel like I'm just as big as I need to be, and I've never, ever – even to myself – said I was undersized.
"I just feel like it's never been a handicap. I've always been able to do whatever I need to do. I've always been able to get past any offensive lineman I need to get past. I've always been able to tackle anybody that needs to be tackled. For me, I think I've got great leverage when I play the game, and my current stature allows me to display the power that needs to be displayed to execute whatever I need to do."
7. Speaking of power, what was your biggest hit at Miami?
"There was actually one in the '08 season. I was playing WILL linebacker that year and they were running a 'WILL lead.' We were playing Florida State and the fullback was coming through the hole and I recognized the play based on the steps they were doing, and I remember I just went full speed and I completely flattened the fullback and knocked him into the running back, completely disrupted the play. That right there was probably a hit that I'll never forget. Most people would probably mention the Clemson hit, but for me it was in the '08 season playing Florida State."
8. I don't know if you were aware of this, but you've got a pretty famous uncle. How close were you to the Rev. Al Sharpton growing up, and what kind of influence has he had on you?
"Growing up, people always were like, 'Are you related to Al Sharpton? Are you related to Al Sharpton?' My parents told me I was, and later on in my life, I actually got to see him a lot more because he traveled a lot and came down to Miami. So I would see him when he came down and we would speak, and he would tell me that he was very proud of me and that he loves me. I met the whole family, and I stay with them whenever I go to New York. He's been a great guy, a great role model, and obviously he's very, very famous in many circles, so he's definitely been a good role model for me, as have my dad and my mom and everybody that's in my family. I'm just very appreciative of my family as a whole and for them always being there for me."
9. You've already got your finance degree. Is that where the nickname "D-Money" comes from?
"(Laughs) I don't know. I think it just has a nice ring to it, you know? I got that when I was in college, and it just kind of stuck. My first nickname was Radio from the movie 'Radio,' because people kind of say that I look like the main character. That was my name for a good whole year, and then as I got older, I started telling the younger guys, 'You better not call me Radio.' So the name eventually disappeared, and I became D-Money, which is a much better nickname than Radio. I guess that kind of goes hand-in-hand with being a finance major, but I think it's just more that it has a nice ring to it."
10. Is finance or entrepreneurship something you'd be interested pursuing as a future career?
"Oh, yeah. I've always been passionate about finance and entrepreneurship. Everyone I can think of in my family has always had a strong entrepreneurial background. My dad has a CPA firm. My uncle has a radio station. My other uncle, Uncle Pat, he has several companies. I could go back and back in my family. A lot of people in my family have been entrepreneurs. I think it might be something in our blood. That's always something I've been very passionate about, so it's definitely something I'll look into for the future. But for right now, I'm just very excited about being a Houston Texan."