Duren eventually gave up baseball to play football in Boulder, and transferred to Colorado in 2002. He earned a scholarship at CU in spring 2003, and last weekend, had his most productive game as a Buffalo when he caught three passes for 20 yards in the win over North Texas.
Q: You played football and baseball in high school. Why did you choose to play baseball initially in college?
Mike Duren: Basically because I didn't get recruited a lot in football. I broke my shoulder my senior year and didn't get recruited much except in baseball.
Q: What was that experience like to play baseball at Nebraska?
MD: It was fun. Lincoln's a fun town to go to college in. Baseball was a lot different than in high school. Like football, it's like a job. But it was a good experience.
Q: What position did you play?
MD: I started out at shortstop and second base, but then moved to outfield.
Q: What's more of a challenge, hitting a curve ball or catching a pass over the middle?
MD: Oh man, that's a tough one. Hitting a curve ball, you don't have anyone in your ear wanting to knock your head off like you do when you go over the middle. But I'd say they're both equally tough.
Q: What made you want to leave the baseball program, move back to Colorado and try and play football?
MD: Out of high school I'd have rather have played football, to be honest. My dad (Gary) went here, my older brother (Matt) went here in the late-‘90s. I figured if I was going to play football, it might as well be at Colorado.
Q: When you walked on, were you confident that you could one day be in a place like you are now where you're contributing so much?
MD: I thought to myself I could. I had a pretty good career in high school.
Q: What did it mean to you when you earned the scholarship in spring 2003?
MD: It meant a lot. Walk-ons kind of have a hard time earning respect from some players. When Coach Barnett told me they were going to put me on scholarship, it was a good feeling.
Q: Which is closer to the real CU offense, what you did against Washington State, or what you did against North Texas?
MD: I think North Texas, definitely. This program is based on running the ball, pounding it up the middle, and then play-action pass off of that. I think we did that to a T this past weekend.
Q: As you start to get ready for conference ball, does the intensity change for you guys?
MD: The intensity definitely rises knowing we're starting Big 12 play. And after last week, that was a big confidence boost for the offense in general, so this week and next week our intensity will be a lot higher.
Q: What's your favorite thing about being a Colorado Buffalo?
MD: One thing is the great fan support, we've got a lot of fans that love us. The friends I've made on the team — it's a close-knit team, coaches and players alike. It's just a great thing to be a part of.
Tough To Practice Thursday
Four coaches, at least 20 players and CU athletic department support staff went to Aurora and attended the funeral of former CU football player Gabe Oderberg Thursday. Oderberg, 23, took his own life on Tuesday. Members of the football program learned of his death Wednesday.
Thursday afternoon when it was time to put on the pads, football was not at the forefront of many Buffs' minds.
"We had a lot of guys that were at Gabe's funeral," head coach Gary Barnett said. "For those guys and for the coaches it's hard to focus on football at a time like this."
Oderberg was a member of Barnett's first recruiting class in 1999, and played offensive lineman for the Buffs before suffering a back injury in Game 1 of the 2001 season. The injury would turn into a nagging issue, eventually leading to back surgery in January 2002. Oderberg, decided to hang up the cleats later that year, but was still around the team a lot the past two seasons.
"Gabe was a devoted Colorado Buffalo, University of Colorado student, and teammate," said an emotional Barnett after practice Thursday. "He was appreciated by everybody here, everybody that played with him and everybody that coached him. It's just one of those things that there's not an explanation for.
"Everything else just seems way down on the list of importance."
Former teammate and close friend Matt McChesney also said Oderberg's passing put an unexpected perspective on CU football.
"This game is really important, and what we do is important, but after you put one of your buddies in the ground, it doesn't have the same. …" McChesney said, his voice trailing off. "He was a really good friend of mine. I've known him for going on five years now. I was close with his family. It's been a really hard couple of days. I know he's looking down."