CONWAY — Senior tight end David Duran hasn’t caught any passes since the season opener, and for that matter, he hasn’t caught any breaks in quite a while either.
But he’s hoping to change all of that this week as he returns to action for Coastal Carolina’s game Saturday at Appalachian State.
After missing most of last season while undergoing shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, the Chanticleers’ sixth-year senior caught two passes in the first game and has since been sidelined by a bout of turf toe and lingering shoulder soreness.
He says he’s ready to go on all fronts, though, and he wants to make the most of what remains of his final collegiate season.
“It’s been tough,” Duran said after practice. “That’s part of the game – injuries – but kind of my last campaign here, I didn’t want that, really didn’t expect it. It happened, but I’m feeling good now and I’m ready to get going.”
Before the big injury, the surgery, the long recovery and the various setbacks, Duran was the top tight end in the Big South Conference – a two-time first-team all-league selection who owns the conference record for career catches by a tight end with 60.
A well-built 6-foot-5 target with steady hands, Duran’s plan was to use this sixth season – granted to him by the NCAA due to his past injury hardships – as a chance to reestablish himself as a pro prospect. Of course, that plan didn’t include being a spectator most of the last three weeks.
“I’m very motivated,” he said. “I believe we’ve got seven more games in the season, so I’m trying to give it my all every one of these games and hopefully I’ll continue to stay healthy.”
He acknowledged that the turf toe injury is one that has a tendency to linger, but he says he’s felt great in his practice reps since giving it a go Tuesday. The question, though, is how he fits in the Coastal offense now and what kind of role he might see Saturday and going forward.
CCU offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude noted that the team has been utilizing two-running back sets of late as junior Lorenzo Taliaferro gets more comfortable in the offense, and with the return of senior receiver Akeem Wesley and the emergence of freshman slot receiver Tyrell Blanks, the Chants (2-2) have the option to run four wideouts consistently.
“So we have to kind of figure out, OK, now that we’re adding another good piece back, how do we maximize our tight end play,” Patenaude said. “Those are good problems to have.”
Duran doesn’t know what to expect either, other than that he’s going to be on the field again – finally – in some capacity Saturday in Boone, N.C.
“I know I’m part of the gameplan, but you never really know until we get there,” he said. “But I’m expecting to be part of the offense and be out there.”
Patenaude is optimistic about the status of junior slot receiver Niccolo Mastromatteo, who missed the game last Saturday with a rib injury. “He’s still a little tender, but I think he should be ready to by Saturday,” Patenaude said.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.