Spartan Nation Talks EXCLUSIVELY With the Father of New MSU 2014 QB Chris Durkin Jr.
Q: This guy, what a great job he and his lovely wife have done as parents. Chris Durkin Sr., how are you?
A: I’m doing well.
Q: Your son is a super good kid and a great athlete. What did you and your wife do?
A: You know what, we treat him fairly. A long time ago I listened to an interview on ESPN, I believe it was Grant Hill’s parents. A lot of the same things we say about Chris were said about their son. They asked his father the same question…why is he the type of kid that he is? And they said, We gave our kid whatever he needed. The difference between a kick in the pants and a pat on the back was about 6 inches. Whatever Christopher needed growing up is what he got.
Q: What was it about Dantonio that you and your wife said, Alright our son likes him and wants to commit. But we trust him with our boy. What was that?
A: It was the calm confidence, his demeanor. From the time we met him until the time we left campus he was the same man. Another thing I think that really stuck out to us was his character. Let me just say it like this… We visited a lot of schools this last year and the only school that we’ve been to that had nothing negative to say about another school was Michigan State. There was plenty of positive things to say about the Spartans that he didn’t have to resort to, Oh don’t go there because of this. Every time he asked about a school and we gave our opinions, he would say something nice about that school. That was classy. That was something that didn’t happen anywhere else. And I don’t wanna knock any of the other schools. They all treated us very, very well. But that’s the one thing that stood out to me that this man didn’t have to rip another school. There was plenty of positive things to say about the Spartans.
Q: In the recruiting process, will you take a fan through it? When did Chris first hear from Michigan State? Talk about those unofficial visits.
A: Absolutely. It started pretty early on with Christopher. He was literally wrapping up his freshman year and went down to Cincinnati and did a camp down there. A little blurb was written about him that this was a kid that is gonna blow up, he’s gonna be a player. Really from there it kinda steamrolled. He got an offer from Toledo at the conclusion of his sophomore year. Another one came from the same Conference, from the Big 10, from Illinois. A day or two later we got another one from Bowling Green. And that’s when it really meant something to me. I was like, Wow this kid has potential to do something special. Not too long thereafter, finishing up his junior campaign, then Northwestern jumps in. I wanna backtrack… I wanna say that Michigan State was the first Big 10 school that Christopher really got excited about. Not to knock Illinois, but it just didn’t seem like their program was in the right place. But when Michigan State offered… Having been a part of the football scene for a long time, we know that Michigan State doesn’t miss when they evaluate talent. They do their due diligence, they make sure they bring in quality athletes, quality kids. When they offered him we were really excited. From that point on it was a lot of… There was not (???) from coaches and staff because of NCAA regulations. Alot of the communication, still to this day, has been email. And if Christopher could phone in at certain times that were made prearranged they’ll talk at that point. But it’s amazing what the NCAA will allow a child or a coach to do, or not do for that matter. So it was a lot of emails back and forth and trying to stay in touch that way.
Q: If you were called by Mark Emmert in the NCAA and they wanted your suggestions on ways to tweak or make the process easier for parents and players, are there suggestions you’d give them?
A: Absolutely. I would say that the coach should be allowed to contact the player. And if at some point the player no longer wants to continue that line of communication, I would say either a formal letter be drawn up, sent to the university, and then at that point the school should no longer be allowed to contact the player. Other than that, I think a lot of these rules are in place to protect the athlete, and that’s fine. But a lot of times you’re not able to communicate with one another and a lot of stuff gets lost in between. So I think to have the ability for the coach to call the kid and say, Hey how we doing? What’s going on? And limit it to two calls a week or something as simple as that and it has to be documented. That’s the one thing I think I would change. But I understand these rules and regulations are in place to protect… These kids are 16, 17, 18 years old. You have a high profile athlete like Christopher getting calls from 30 or 35 of the top nation’s programs, it can cut into their schoolwork and social life as well. So I do see that they’re there for a reason but I think to the parents and players discretion, a phone call or two from the coach should be permitted. That’s the one thing I would change.
Q: I had a dad tell me recently that it really bothered him when his child committed to Michigan State and other schools continued to contact his son. For you, does that bother you?
A: Not at all. I guess the best way to explain to you why would be this: What if down the road, what if something were to change, what if something else were to happen? And I’m not saying Christopher is looking to go somewhere else. It’s great for our high school program to have these other schools come in. There’s other quality athletes in our system that may not have gotten a look otherwise. When you have a profile athlete in the system I think it’s important that you continue to develop your high school program, and these kids that may not have gotten a look… It’s happening as we speak. Another one of our athletes is gonna get offered by a MAC school this week and it may not have happened had it not been for them being in and out of the school for multiple visits over the last two years to see Christopher. They say, Hey who’s that kid over there? And who’s this kid? The coach then has an opportunity to interact. So I think it’s important that these schools still come in and visit with Chris and any of the other student athletes the high school has that are worth their time. A kid like Christopher, a family like ours, when we give somebody our word…when we gave Coach D our word that we’re Spartans, we’re gonna bleed green from here on out, take it to the bank. That’s where we’re gonna play football. He’s gonna be a champion there.
Q: This dad also said there were specific schools that were very negative in recruiting and after his son had eliminated them they continued to call. Did you find that frustrating or did you not experience that?
A: We’re going through it now. It’s funny, we go out to the mailbox every day and we barely have room for the bills.