CHARLOTTE, N.C. — David Duran realizes that if he had not been granted a sixth year of eligibility due to an injury-shortened 2011 season, his football career would likely be over now. But fortunately for the standout tight end – and for Coastal Carolina – that is not how the story ended.
Duran, who was limited to four games during his senior campaign before undergoing shoulder surgery, was approved by the NCAA for one more season and says he’s feeling “close to 100 percent” in his recovery as the Chanticleers prepare to open practice next Thursday.
“I’ve been catching balls and lifting weights all summer,” he said. “The only thing I haven’t done is take a hit or block, so that’s something we’ll ease into as camp goes on, but there’s no reason to think Sept. 1 I won’t be ready.”
Duran, who has been a two-time first-team all-conference pick, was named a preseason all-Big South selection and should again be a key asset in the Coastal passing game. His best season with the Chants after transferring from Michigan State came in 2010 when he caught 34 passes for 472 yards. With reliable hands and an NFL-type 6-foot-5 frame, he should draw the attention of professional scouts if he proves he’s healthy and productive this season.
And after not knowing if his career was done last fall, he’s appreciative to have that opportunity.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say my career probably would have been done had I not got this sixth year,” Duran said. “But now I get an opportunity to just play football and that’s what I’m excited about.”
Status quo for Seawolves
Stony Brook was picked as the Big South’s preseason favorites for the first time, garning 15 of a possible 18 first-place votes after going undefeated in the league last season and becoming the first team from the conference to win an FCS playoff game.
And the Seawolves will try to follow a similar formula in 2012 as they lean on a replenished rushing attack.
Senior Miguel Maysonet returns after rushing for Big South-record 1,633 yards last season and was unanimously named the conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. His former backfield partner is gone as Brock Jackolski finished up his collegiate career with 1,418 yards on the ground last season, but Stony Brook has filled that void with Iowa transfer Marcus Coker.
“[He’s a] totally different back,” Maysonet said comparing Coker to Jackolski. “A lot bigger, a lot stronger. He probably doesn’t have the [same] speed as Brock, but he does great things other than speed. He’s powerful.”
Coker, listed at 6-feet, 230 pounds, rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns in two seasons at Iowa – including 1,384 yards and 15 scores last year.
“He was leaving Iowa, and our regional recruiter in his home area of Baltimore, Md., has a lot of great relationships with the high school coaches there,” Stony Brook offensive coordinator Jeff Behrman said. “And as soon as he got wind of it, he jumped on it. He was able to get in there on Marcus early, and it worked out for us.”
Stony Brook averaged 267.3 rushing yards per game last season, and the plan remains the same on the offensive side for the Seawolves.
“That’s our philosophy. That’s what we do. ... We want our running backs to be fresh,” Behrman said. “We’re going to rotate those guys every two to three plays, and they know that and they know that’s been a good rhythm and a good routine that we’ve been able to be successful with.”
The other new coach
Coastal’s Joe Moglia wasn’t the only new head coach introduced to the rest of the conference Thursday as Liberty’s Turner Gill also made his first Big South media day appearance.
Gill, who coached at Buffalo before a dismal two-year run at Kansas, takes over for Danny Rocco, who left the Flames to become the head coach at Richmond.
Gill, a former quarterback for Nebraska, said he was lured to Lynchburg, Va., by the university leadership at Liberty and by the opportunity to lead the Flames in their announced pursuit to move up to the FBS level.
“They wanted to have a person who had the experience of being in the FBS to assist them in getting to that point, so that’s exciting,” Gill said. “I wanted to be part of a legacy, to hopefully be part of winning championships here at the FCS level and then be that coach to have the opportunity to win the FBS level. That excites me.”
He takes over a program that has been a perennial contender in the Big South and has the challenge of replacing former standout quarterback Mike Brown
Junior Brian Hudson and redshirt-freshman Josh Woodrum are competing for the starting quarterback job, and Gill would like to settle on one signal-caller as early in the season as possible.
Charleston Southern is coming off an 0-11 season, but there is one definite bright spot for the program in senior defensive back Charles James.
James, who is tied for fifth in league history with 10 career interceptions, was tabbed as the Big South’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after receiving eight of 18 first-place votes.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.