Typically, when college coaches visit a high school football player’s home, selling the player on the merits of their football program is the principal action.
The coaches have already seen the kid play, they’ve watched a lot of film, and they know what he can do.
Washington State’s coaches were therefore somewhat taken aback when they visited Cedric Bigge-Duren, and the offensive lineman from Oceanside, California, broke out his ukulele and guitar.
Offensive linemen are often cited by players and coaches as among the most intelligent players on a football team. The Wonderlic test given to NFL draft prospects bears that out, with offensive tackles scoring the highest of any position group, centers scoring the second-highest and offensive guards fourth-highest, behind quarterbacks, according to data compiled by longtime NFL writer Paul Zimmerman.
Bigge-Duren, a freshman who redshirted this past season, has played at tackle and guard for the Cougars during spring practices. And he’s not just smart, he’s musically inclined.
“He’s really intelligent, he’s really talented, he’s a really unique kid,” offensive line coach Clay McGuire said. “And once you get to know him, I think he’s going to be a very successful human being one day.”
In addition to the string instruments, Bigge-Duren also dabbles with the piano and played the tuba for four years. He started his career on the trumpet.
“What happened was my sister wanted to play the trumpet, my grandpa bought her one,” Bigge-Duren said. “She’s like two years older than me, and so when it came time to have music in school, he’d already bought the trumpet and was like ‘You’re playing it!’ ”
Although Bigge-Duren already looks like a Pac-12 offensive lineman, standing as he does at 6-foot-6 and weighing 320 pounds, it is unlikely he will see the field this upcoming season. McGuire says he can be a “special player” in time, but that he’s a long way from where the coaches think he will eventually be in terms of skill and polish.
The coaches would like Bigge-Duren to end up at tackle, a complex position that requires surety of movement and confidence that is rare in freshmen. The Cougars also have a pair of capable tackles in sophomore Andre Dillard on the left side and incumbent starter Cole Madison, a junior, on the right.
Bigge-Duren has good feet, according to the coaches, but still has to learn to use them. Another year or two in the weight room will also benefit the young lineman.
Very few offensive linemen see the field before spending at least a couple years in the program, mostly due to the strength required of the position. That kind of patience can be hard for a college kid, but it is a skill found in most musicians.
“(Music) kind of teaches you to just keep going, because you’ve got to focus on little things,” Bigge-Duren said. “You’ve got to work on your first step (in football) 1,000 times. And when you’re learning a song, it takes years and years, but you’ve got to keep going. Music teaches you to spend hours working until you get it down.”