By Rob Gray
Either designation suits former Gilbert High School star and freshly-minted Iowa State defensive lineman Ben Durbin just fine.
“I can play both at a high level,” said Durbin, a 6-3, 256-pound senior who was slated to be one of Wyoming’s starting defensive ends this season before journeying back to central Iowa. “Whether I’m a rotational guy or a starter, I plan to be a productive player at Iowa State and I’m going to work hard to do that.”
Cyclone athletics announced Wednesday Durbin had joined the program.
He’s already graduated with a degree in psychology from Wyoming — where he became a key contributor on defense, recording four sacks and forcing two fumbles in the past two seasons.
Hence, Durbin (6-3, 256) can play immediately this fall, bolstering an already deeper defensive front bent on producing more pressure and productivity in 2012.
“We’re actually still in the process of finalizing some paperwork and stuff like that,” said Durbin, a first-team all-State selection at linebacker in high school. “But it’s an exciting time for me right now.”
Durbin grew up a Cyclone fan and joins another former Tiger who took a less circuitous path back home.
Cory Morrissey — also a defensive lineman — played one season at Iowa Western Community College before transferring to Iowa State this season.
“We’ve been talking,” Durbin said. “Our lockers are actually right next to each other.”
Durbin had hoped to play for ISU out of high school, but then-Cyclone coach Gene Chizik didn’t offer a full scholarship, he said.
So Durbin headed to the Mountain West Conference and started the majority of games as a sophomore and junior for the Cowboys.
“I’ve been blessed at Wyoming,” he said. “Met some great people out there.”
But wearing the brown and gold never washed out the cardinal and gold in him.
“Before my games at Wyoming, I was in the hotel room watching Iowa State,” Durbin said. “I was getting chills watching their games.”
Especially one landmark Friday night in November last season — when ISU shocked then-No. 2 Oklahoma State 37-31 in double overtime.“I was in my hotel room watching it; calling friends, talking to guys on the team that knew I was from Iowa,” said Durbin, who helped his former team gain bowl eligibility the next day in a 31-10 win over New Mexico. “I was keen to the whole game the night before my own game.”