2010 Intro: DeChane Durante

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- In his first start at safety, DeChane Durante, playing against national football powerhouse Independence High, intercepted two passes.

"I was coaching the secondary [at the time], but I only had [Durante] for one week," newly hired Vance head coach Phil Culicerto said. "I put him in the middle of the secondary and in his first game he picks two balls off of [Anthony] Carrothers.

"I'm not talking about right at him. The one was thrown in the corner of the end zone – out of first instinct I'm sitting there thinking ‘Touchdown' – and he just shot across, left his feet, and grabbed that ball out of the air – it was a spectacular catch.

Junior Highlights:
"He hasn't moved from that spot since."

After missing his entire freshman season with a hamstring injury, Durante, a 6-foot-3, 192-pounder, began his sophomore campaign starting at wide receiver.

During the third game of the season, which was against Butler High, Durante changed how the Vance coaching staff perceived him on one play.

"We threw an interception against Butler and there was a flash that came from nowhere and hit the defensive back that intercepted the ball [current Notre Dame sophomore Robert Blanton]," Culicerto said. "That was the hardest hit of the night. It was one of those hits that I jumped up and started screaming. I looked down and was like ‘God, that was DeChane Durante.'"

Culicerto spent the next two weeks begging then head coach Jeff Simpson to move Durante to the secondary.

"I told Simpson, you've got to give me Durante, because that was unreal – that was the hardest hit I saw all night and Butler is good," Culicerto said.

Culicerto got his wish and it paid off for Vance. In just seven games at safety, Durante recorded seven interceptions, and continued his hard hitting ways.

"One thing he does do is he'll come up and he'll smack you," Culicerto said.

With experience under his belt and an off-season focused on safety, Durante played his junior season in even more physical fashion, while also becoming an on-the-field coach.

"He can get people lined up, as far as correcting mistakes and moving people," Culicerto said. "When the signal comes in from the sideline, he can get everybody lined up and point to where they need to go if there are any questions."

With a growing reputation, last season teams threw away from Durante. He ended the season with just three interceptions, but was among the team leaders in tackles.

During his junior season, Durante was used more often on offense as a receiver. In a situational role, he caught seven touchdowns.

"We have several receivers and whenever we need a big play, DeChane is definitely on the field," Culicerto said. "I told my quarterback last year ‘Look to [Durante] first, see what we can do there; and if it doesn't look good, go to the other side.'"

Also, Durante returned punts and kickoffs for Vance. He scored two touchdowns on returns.

This coming season, Vance will utilize more ‘50' and 4-4 defensive fronts, which will leave Durante as the lone safety in the secondary playing like a centerfielder.

"I think he's good enough to go sideline-to-sideline," Culicerto said. "If we have somebody like that, then we can get stronger upfront. What we need to do – that I don't think we did that great a job of last year – is get the extra help upfront and stop the run."

Durante might stay at safety on the collegiate level, but Culicerto can envision Durante growing into a linebacker.

"He's just one of those guys that has a knack to get to the ball," Culicerto said. "He just sees things before they happen. But, he might not have the speed for safety [on the collegiate level].

"He's got a lot of growing to do. He's going to be a pretty thick man one day when someone gets him and all he's playing is football… I think people will see he has the capability to really bulk up, because he has the frame."

In addition to football, Durante plays basketball and runs track for Vance.

Last September, Illinois became the first school to offer Durante a scholarship.

A couple of months later, Durante and his father flew to Champaign and attended the Illinois-Indiana football game.

"I liked the school," Durante said. "Good school, great atmosphere, I feel like I could fit in there. I liked the coaches."

Durante has yet to collect his second offer. But he's receiving significant interest from Duke, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Illinois, North Carolina, NC State, and Syracuse.

"All the state schools and the regional schools are interested in him," Culicerto said. "There's going to be a lot of people that come in here this spring."

Ideally, Durante would like to make a verbal commitment in late-August.

While proximity won't play a factor, Durante sees the benefits of staying in the state and currently favors two in-state schools.

"I really like the hometown schools of North Carolina and NC State," Durante said. "They're close so that everybody can see me play and they're showing me interest."

Before leaving for Auburn, UNC area recruiter Tommy Thigpen was in regular contact with Durante and invited him to the Tar Heels' spring game. Durante accepted and planned to make the visit, even after Thigpen's departure, but rainy weather forced him to cancel the trip.

Durante hasn't visited any school this spring. However, he is considering camping at Illinois, UNC, and NC State this summer.

DeChane Durante Profile

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