When a player makes the All-State team among junior college football programs in the state of California, he's definitely the kind of player that division 1 coaches are interested in. When that All-State player only has four years of experience playing football, and a two year break in the middle, it becomes apparent that you have a unique talent on your hands. 6-foot-4, 290-pound BYU offensive lineman signee Tim Duran is a unique talent, with a unique story.
"I played baseball and hockey when I was younger, then when I got into high school I started wrestling. One of my wrestling coaches was the running backs coach on the football team, so he said that I should go out there and give it a shot, 'what was the worst that could happen?' So my junior year I went out for the football team, I fell in love with it, so ever since then I've tried to learn as much as I can about the game and technique and about playing offensive line. I'm just trying to see how good I can actually be."
"Coming out of high school I had interest from smaller schools, D-2 and D-3 type schools. Like I said, my senior year was only my second year of playing football. I was really raw, and I still feel like I'm really raw as a football player, I feel like there are tons more techniques I can learn to better my game."
Tim's two year hiatus from the game of football wasn't the typical break that BYU fans are accustomed to seeing a lot of BYU athletes take.
"My mom was a single parent up in Washington with me and my brother, we ran into some financial issues and whatnot, so my senior year I dropped out of high school and got a job (at a car lot) and started helping paying the bills for a couple of years until we got back on our feet. I promised my mom once we did that I would get back into school, so in 2010 I went down to California and enrolled at a community college."
Like LDS missions however, this wasn't the kind of break that gave Tim a strategic advantage in athletics. Which is another reason why Tim has some pretty incredible potential that has yet to be tapped into.
"While working I actually put on a lot of weight, so when I came back to school I weighed in at 330 lbs. I thought football was done, it was fun while it lasted in high school but it was time to grow up and get a job and help my family out, I didn't touch a weight those whole two years."
"I didn't do so great my freshman year, I did alright, but I've only been playing football for 4 years. This year was year number 4. So I'm still relatively new to the game and still learning and all of that stuff, that's what makes it exciting."
Tim has learned a lot and mastered his craft during his few years of playing football. It isn't very often that a player with only four years of experience is as sound in his technique as Tim is.
"My O-Line coach, Andy Gonzalez, he's pretty big on technique. He played at Cal I think in the late 80's and he was a graduate assistant coach there for a couple of years after that. So when I moved down to California, that was the biggest thing that he told me, that technique was what was going to get me to the next level if that's what I wanted to do. I'm not the biggest guy out there, so you've got to be pretty sound in your technique. I spent a lot of time with him just trying to pick up as much as I could."
Coach Anae and Coach Tujague could tell that the 23 year old recruit had spent the time and effort necessary to master his craft.
"They liked that I'm an older guy and i have some maturity to me. I sat down with Coach Tujague and Coach Anae and they said that technique wise I was pretty sound, especially for a JC guy. They also liked the way that I moved around on my feet."
The question is, how does a technique sound, All-State offensive lineman only have one Division 1 offer? And how was it that BYU only first contacted him 3 weeks ago, to get him on an official visit the weekend before National Signing Day, and not offer him until the night before he needed to fax in his National Letter of Intent?
"It made it exciting...I had sent film out really late after the season, so I got a couple of responses from coaches telling me that I had good technique but a lot of their recruiting spots had been filled already. I sent mid-season film to a bunch of smaller schools, like D-2 and D-1AA schools to test the waters to see if I had a shot of playing at the next level. I got responses back from there, so just a couple of weeks ago I decided to send my film out to bigger schools, so I didn't leave myself much time. Not many people have heard of my community college either, a lot of the things that I've seen online that people have written about me so far after signing have been saying that I'm from Southern California, when I'm actually more Northern California or central coast. Nobody really knows who I am, I'm not angry, I kinda like the fact that I was under the radar and nobody really knows who I am."
Tim may like being under the radar, but he's working as hard as he can to make a name for himself at BYU.
"I was talking to Coach Anae and I'm trying to put a little weight on but keep my body fat really low. We were talking about how the ideal offensive lineman is 310 to 315 pounds with a body fat percentage below 20%."
If Tim can get close to that ideal weight and muscle composition by the time fall camp rolls around, having pancaked four defenders a game and only having allowed 1.5 sacks all season from three different spots on the line, he has the skill and versatility to be able to contribute for BYU in 2013.
"I've actually played center, guard and tackle, so I'm the kind of guy that said to coach, 'Where ever you need me, just let me know and I'll do my best to fill in.' They said they would probably try me out at guard or tackle first. I'm relatively new at snapping, this was my first year of learning how to snap."
"Coach wants everything to be fast, 100% all of the time, and hard and physical. That's what I'm interested in, we haven't really talked scheme wise, just what they want the mentality of the offense to be this coming season."
"I've got an opportunity to go to a great school and get a great education and learn from some great coaches. I hope there's a lot more in store that I can attain and learn to make me a better football player and a better man."
Tim talked a lot about becoming a better man, and as a non-LDS student athlete at a university that is owned by the LDS Church, he sounds like he'll fit in very well.
"The honor code is honestly not a big deal to me, I think that it has its benefits. There's not a lot of other distractions that you would find at a lot of other universities like drinking and crazy parties and that kind of stuff. So I think it's beneficial and hopefully it will help me develop as a person while I'm there and make me a better man, a better person and a better husband in the future. The only thing that I wasn't too excited about was when I found out that I would have to shave my beard. That was the only thing that I was kind of bummed about, but the rest of it I had no problem with."
Whether or not Tim can find himself a beard card, he feels that the sacrifice of his goatee will be more than worth it.
What I like most is the overall feel of the school, I don't know if that makes sense. The people that I met on my trip were really friendly, and there is a real sense of community, at least that's what I felt on my trip. I'm excited to get into school and meet new people and what-not. Second would be the academics, it's hard to find schools with better academics than BYU, so that's what I'm really excited about. The whole playing football thing isn't going to last forever, so when it's all said and done you better hope that you have a good education, so that's very high on my list, one of the things I'm most excited about. Number three would be getting taught and coached by the coaching staff, Coach Anae and Coach Tujague. Picking their brains the two years that I'm there trying to learn as much as I can from them and improve as a football player. I'm also really excited to travel with the team and meet new people and get into the whole brotherhood and camaraderie of the team. That's pretty exciting to me too, BYU is the highest level of football that you can play, so I'm excited for the new adventures that all come with it. Also being able to play in the stadium with all of the fans. We went to a basketball game and a volleyball game and BYU has some great fans. Just the opportunity to play in that stadium in front of 55,000 BYU fans, I'm really excited about that.
Playing football for the BYU Cougars is certainly a unique experience, Tim wouldn't have it any other way.