Trayion Durham's father Arlando watched his son's practices and took stringent mental notes. When the two got home, Arlando sat his son down and explained what he saw. Though Trayion was always one of the better players on the team, room for improvement was vast. He wanted his son to know that.
"He would watch the whole practice, and when we got home he would go through things that I could do to be a better player," said the younger Durham.
This persistent tough-love helped the Kent State Golden Flashes land one of the more dominate offensive players in the league because of the similarities that Arlando and former head coach Darrell Hazell had.
"Coach Hazell never told me what I wanted to hear, he told me what was right. He would never sugarcoat anything," Trayion said.
Without Hazell, there is a likelihood that Durham would be playing for Kentucky or Michigan. He had his mind set on going to Kentucky because of position vacancy at fullback. Michigan came calling after Durham had met with the Kent State staff, but he didn't even take his visit. Hazell would soon become a second father to him, and he was not going to screw that up.
Durham runs people over. Three players that he tries to form his game around are Walter Payton, Ricky Williams and, the best comparison in my opinion, Jerome Bettis. It was virtually impossible to stop Bettis from plowing through the defensive line on the goal line or third and short, and the same goes for Durham. When you need a stop, it's a tough life with number 34 ready to take the hand off.
Last season, as a sophomore, he finished eighth in rushing and tied for seventh in scoring per game. He was one of the best players in all the conference, yet when asked about the season he dodges. Regardless that my article depends on him talking about last year, Durham is completely focused on 2013.
When asked how he thought his season went last year, he answered:
"I think it was pretty good, but I mean I am not satisfied with it. I am not going to sit on what I did last year. I am going to try to get better. I did not meet all my goals. I wanted 15 touchdowns but I only got 14." Durham said.
He did not create his goals alone. Again, Hazell played a role; this time in what he should want to achieve. Hazell sat down with Durham and went over what he expected from his star full back. Durham wanted to complete them perhaps not just for himself, but for his second father also.
And while Durham is sadden by Hazell's leaving to Purdue, he has given new coach Paul Haynes a chance.
"We are looking forward to next year with this year coming we have to get our team to believe in the coaches and what they are selling to us." Durham continued, "Coach Haynes is doing good. He's trying to make us better."
Durham is a focused player. He has taken a role as a team leader who continues to preach to his teammates about the importance of buying into the program. Because he has lofty goals for his squad this year, and they can only be achieved with a team effort.
"What I want Kent State to achieve next year is winning the MAC and making a BCS bowl and winning it." Durham said.