Tim Duffie coaches the secondary for the CSU football team, and on Saturday he will return to where his coaching career started, the University of Texas-El Paso.
And after spending nine years there, he will be greeted with open arms â€“â€“ sort of.
â€œWe will welcome Tim and his wife Autumn back,â€ UTEP coach Mike Price said. â€œBut weâ€™re going to build a fence to keep Tim away from any recruits here in Texas.â€
The fence is necessary because Duffie has helped to create a pipeline of players going from the talent-rich state straight to Fort Collins.
CSU has 22 players from Texas, the second most from any state for the Rams behind the 29 from Colorado.
Of those 22, eight are key contributors, while two more would be starters if they werenâ€™t injured.
And the fact that CSU plays in Texas at least once a year helps to sell recruits and their families.
â€œI think anytime you can have guys on your football team go back into the state that theyâ€™re from itâ€™s very good to use in recruiting,â€ Duffie said. â€œSaying â€˜weâ€™re going to play in Texas at least two times, or three times, or four timesâ€™ itâ€™s a good thing.â€
The Texas connection on the roster gives CSU a chance at recruiting kids who were overlooked by their local schools. Thatâ€™s the case with Austin native Thomas Coffman.
â€œI wanted to play against the schools that didnâ€™t give me a chance,â€ Coffman said. â€œâ€¦itâ€™s something that I always wanted to do: come back and play against some of the Texas schools that the coaches never really gave me a shot at.â€
Coffman said that UTEP was one of the schools that he never heard from. And the fact that CSU had so many Texas natives helped make his decision easy.
â€œKnowing some other Texas folks were going to be on the team was definitely a huge reason that I came,â€ Coffman said.
Oftentimes CSU and UTEP are on the trail of some of the same kids, Duffie said. And now that the two schools are in the same football conference after the merger of the Mountain West and Conference USA, Saturdayâ€™s game will give one school an early leg up on getting the stars of the future.
â€œHopefully theyâ€™ll have some recruits there,â€ Duffie said. â€œItâ€™s their homecoming, and Iâ€™m sure some of those recruits that are at their place are some of the same kids that weâ€™re recruiting. So hopefully we can go out and win the game and get ourselves an edge in recruiting.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.