Many high school football players need time to grow in their frames before they truly make that transformation into collegiate players. This holds especially true for prospects rated at three stars or below who play on the interior of the defensive line. For every rule, however, there is an exception and, in this case, that exception is Florida State signee Cory Durden.
Durden, a three-star defensive tackle in 247Sports’ composite rankings who earned four-star marks from ESPN and Scout, stands out, in large part due to his 6’4, 314-pound frame. He comes from Newberry (Fla.) where he was teammates with fellow Florida State commit Ja’len Parks, who also happens to be his cousin. Durden ranks as the No. 363 overall player, No. 25 defensive tackle, and No. 46 player from the state of Florida.
He received his scholarship offer from Florida State while at Jimbo Fisher Football Camp in the summer of 2015 ahead of his junior season and committed to the Seminoles just under a year ago when attending FSU’s Junior Day in February of 2016.
Durden also held offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Louisville, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Utah, NC State, and South Carolina, but his commitment never wavered. He did take an official visit to Louisville the weekend of January 14th, but he shut down his recruitment immediately after that visit, coming to Florida State for an official the very next weekend.
His senior season, Durden racked up 18 tackles for loss and five sacks as part of a campaign which saw him also finish with two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, a blocked field goal, and a forced safety.
Included below is our scouting report on Durden, from a high school coach on our staff.
At 6’4, 316 lbs, Durden is a physically imposing defensive tackle with excellent length and athleticism. What’s most impressive about Durden’s film is his ability to move at that size. He played some tight end as a senior - running routes and catching touchdown passes at over 300 lbs. It’s rare to find prospects at Durden’s size with that level of quickness.
When projecting him as a defensive tackle, he shows excellent burst off the line and plays with a low pad level. This allows him to effectively bull rush offensive lineman and make plays in the backfield. When he meets ball carriers, he tends to finish with authority. Durden also does a good job having his eyes in the backfield, redirecting plays and using his athleticism to finish them. He shows good flexibility and ankle flexion in his stance which also lends to him playing low and effectively firing off the ball.
Often times in Durden’s senior film offensive lineman are unable to get their hands on him before he’s in the backfield. You also have to be excited about his motor. Despite playing both ways in high school, he runs to the ball and chases sideline to sideline, showing that extra effort that you want in championship level defenders. Durden’s combination of size and athleticism at defensive tackle make him one of the more underrated prospects in the class.