Frank Duong: From walk-on to special teams star

He was pure excitement as a running back at Penn.

But for a year, he put his pads away to be a long jumper at Purdue.

But one year away from the game he loved was too much--so Frank Duong decided to walk onto the Boilermaker football team.

“I always had faith in my abilities,” Duong says. “It was just a matter of how long it was going to take me to get into this position."

After spending his sophomore season training to be member of the team, Duong first saw action as a junior.

He immediately made an impact on special teams.

This season, his role increased. He is considered the team’s most explosive special teams player and has seen considerable time at safety as a reserve.

"Frank epitomizes the term playing with reckless abandon,” head coach Joe Tiller explains. “He has total disregard for his body. He's really a reckless player. And those are usually your best players on special teams. I wish we had 10 more of him."

Tiller says Duong is a player he loves to watch. In fact, Frank is the first player Tiller looks for when he reviews the game tape.

While Duong is appreciative of his coach’s comments, he says he’s not completely out of control out on the field.

"I don’t want to say its completely reckless,” Duong explains with a smile on his face. “I know where I'm going and I know what I have to do.”

“People have called me the human grenade--things like that. You just throw your body around and hope for the best."

One of Duong's career highlights was exploding onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium a year ago.

But Frank will not get to play against Notre Dame this year.

An injury to his knee against Minnesota will keep him out of Saturday's game against the Irish.

"When the injury happened, all I could think about was 'why does it have to happen now?’ It’s Notre Dame,” Duong said with a mixture of sadness and frustration.

“It’s the one team on the schedule that I want to play. I want to go down and hit people."

Duong's status remains week to week. Regardless of what happens the rest of this year, he will get one more chance to play the Irish next season here in South Bend.

Duong could receive a scholarship to play next year. Coach Tiller has a long history of rewarding senior walk-ons with scholarships for their final season.

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