Julian Durden represented western Pennsylvania well at this past weekend's Nike Camp in Columbus. He dazzled the running backs coaches there with his quick moves. More importantly, he felt the deep pool of running backs that he competed with will help him, as he gets set to prepare for his senior year at Montour.
"It's good to come out and see who else is as good as you, or better," Durden said. "Competition always pushes you harder. You come out here to get pushed harder, to become a better player so you can go back to Pittsburgh, and the WPIAL, and compete against them. You hopefully advance and do better than what you did last year in the regular season."
Though there were several bigger backs in the running back pool in Columbus, Durden more than held his own in some of the blocking drills. He attributes that to the attention his high school team puts on blocking, even though Durden still rushed for over 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior.
"Blocking drills, my running back coach (at Montour) is big on that stuff," Durden added. "Competing, and blocking, that wasn't really a new thing. The bag drills, and the agility drills, they weren't new, but they were kind of new. I learned some stuff that I can do with agilities. The blocking and everything, that's just something you have to do as a running back. Our coach emphasizes that a lot, and the ball security."
Pitt was the first school to offer Durden. He has also picked up new offers from Temple, Kent State and Youngstown State. Up next will be summer prospect camps. Pitt and Temple are at the top of that list, but he will be going to those two schools to get a better idea of the coaching staffs, and the facilities.
"(The camps) are just to see the facilities and talk to the coaches some more, get to know them more, just to be around them," Durden added. "I'm going to Temple. I'm going to the Pitt prospect camp. That one's just to get looked at by more coaches, and I have an offer from them too. I'm basically going up there to check out what they have to offer, and what their facilities look like; the city and the surroundings, just to see if I'm comfortable at a place like that."
Pitt remains in a pretty good spot with Durden overall.
"I still talk to them," Durden said of Pitt. "They came to visit my school a couple days back. They're still on the radar."
With Pitt, the hometown factor is playing a big role on why he is interested in the Panthers.
"That's it right there, they're a hometown team," Durden said. "They have a new offense. I can show what I can do in their new offense; catching the ball, running the ball, getting in open space, getting defenders in one-on-one positions to score that touchdown for them. Pittsburgh, that's definitely at the top of my list."
The in-state Owls, however, are also showing a lot of interest, leaving him impressed with them as well.
"The one that is showing the most interest right now is Temple," Durden said. "They've been sending me letters, telling me to call them, giving me different coaches to call. They want me to get comfortable with all the coaches. They're trying pretty hard to get me up there. I feel like I need to go up there and check them out.
"I like Temple because it sounds like they have a lot of energy, and they're real confident about this year. Their running back this year is a senior. He's a great player. They just had two players that went to the (NFL) Draft, more than Ohio State had. There's just a lot of energy going on up there. They feel like they're going to have an outstanding season. I feel like that program is on the rise. It would be great to come up there, and make that program even better."