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Ottawa Hills specialist Duran gaining national attention

Emilio Duran already has offers from Harvard and has gone on visits to Duke and Notre Dame.

OTTAWA HILLS, Ohio — There are many positions on a football field that don't get much attention and some of those are punters and kickers.

But Ottawa Hills has one of the top junior kickers in America and his name is Emilio Duran.

"Emilio has a chance to be a young man that could kick on Sundays."

That’s high praise from Ottawa Hills head coach Chris Hardman.

Kicking takes a different kind of person. It can be lonely on the sideline. It takes a lot of work when no one is watching.

"It's a little different than probably most players on a football team," said Duran. "You're in the locker room, they're listening to heavy metal. Usually, I'm trying to stay pretty relaxed. I'll come out here pregame before anyone else, I'll do my own stuff, but a lot of kickers relate it to golf, have a golfer's mindset. Just taking every swing or kick one at a time."

"I would tell you everything he's done, he did on his own," said Hardman. "My ability to help him is I hand him the tee. He's worked literally year-round with his training. Spent time in Florida during the winters so he could kick and he's played the price to be great and he still has another year at Ottawa Hills High School."

All of that hard work has led to attention from major college football programs. He’s already got an offer from Harvard and he recently visited Notre Dame and Duke.

"For kickers, it's usually harder because we're usually the last ones to get noticed, but I've been very fortunate that I have been put in certain opportunities that I can get noticed as a junior," said Duran. "But it's not like getting offers out of 8th grade like some of these five-star recruits you see out of Alabama."

"For me, it's very important to balance both academics and really good football," added Duran. "So, I think any school with great academics and great football would definitely be an option for me."

Duran is an elite kicker and punter, but he admits that he enjoys punting a little more. 

When he’s on the field, he’s in his own zone and totally focused on the few opportunities he gets to change the game.

"You don't think about anything. You got to trust your muscle memory that comes in practice," said Duran. "Every kick should be the same swing and when I get out there to either punt or kickoff or do a field goal, just swing and let your muscle memory take over."