‘Undersized’ 4th Rounder Snatches Spotlight at Rams Camp: Exclusive

Decobie Durant

Getty Decobie Durant during the 2021 Celebration Bowl.

The player who showed the best and most fearless ball skills at Crawford Field on Friday, July 29, was a fourth rounder labeled “undersized” in his draft evaluation before he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams.

And this newcomer inside the “Rams House,” who practiced with the Rams in front a standing room only crowd at the UC Irvine soccer field underneath a basking humid Orange County sun, snatched the spotlight (and the ball) twice with the Super Bowl 56 Most Valuable Player Cooper Kupp in close proximity on the field.

Decobie Durant, the diminutive defender from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) ranks who nearly fell out of the fourth round at No. 142 overall in the 2022 draft, was the one who delivered the ball-hawking moments on a day the Rams put on the full pads.

Durant, however, didn’t bask in glory nor boasted once practice wrapped up. He instead went the humble route in his post practice conversation with Heavy.

‘I’m Just Carrying That Chip on My Shoulder’

Not a lot of defensive backs, let alone rookies, can truly say that won the fight for the football against the NFL’s leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns for wide receiver in the triple crown winner Kupp. His first pick saw Durant needing to leap and extend himself to the football for the grab near the sideline on a throw delivered by Matthew Stafford (note: taking video of that play was prohibited for working media as that play occurred during a team 11-on-11 session. The Rams do not allow media outlets to film team portions for social media intent).

And on another play, backup John Wolford over shot the intended target and Durant became the recipient — drawing hordes of cheers and capping a winning defensive sequence for the Rams.

Durant, though, again wasn’t one in a bragging state of mind. Instead, he shared with Heavy what his attitude has been in his transition from South Carolina State.

“Just a blessing to be here, for real,” Durant told Heavy. “Every day I come out, I try to take advantage of each and every opportunity that’s thrown at me. I got a chance to make some plays on that ball today, and I’m just carrying that chip on my shoulder.”

His first pick, though, was considered a redemption play from an earlier moment that saw the All-Pro Kupp get the better end of him during a previous camp practice.

“Cooper got me on a play early on in training camp. I got a chance to make a play back,” Durant said. “But he congratulated me on that play.”

Durant once received a strong endorsement from renowned HBCU (Historically Black College and University) head coach and NFL legend Deion Sanders after Durant starred for the Bulldogs. Durant was going against his share of speed and scrappers in the HBCU realm. Now, he’s tangling with another past FCS star in the Eastern Washington legend Kupp…as well as a litany of Pro Bowl talent on the Rams.

“Just going against ‘Coop’ is just elevating my game each and every day,” Durant said. “I’m learning to be slower and just asking him what can I work on seeing it from the eye view of a wide receiver. It’s just a blessing.”

Yet, here’s where Durant avoids basking in his two-interception day: By admitting he’s his own worst critic.

“I’m hard on myself, really more than the coaches,” Durant admits. “Going against them each and every day, I’m finding new ways to get better at and what I need to work on. And I’m always asking questions of what I need to work on.”

He was even hard on himself on that diving interception against Kupp.

“Even on that play with Coop: I felt like that I held my leverage a good bit, but he ended up getting outside of me,” Durant said. “I felt like if I was in great position, I wouldn’t have had to dive for it. Just little small things that I’m going to go back and critique for myself.”

Defensive Captain & McVay React to Durant

One defensive captain from last season was witness to Durant’s hands and closing speed.

But for safety Jordan Fuller, he’s not surprised by the day Durant delivered.

“It’s awesome. Really from OTA’s, I knew he was a special talent and I knew what he was capable of,” Fuller said. “He’s not even scratching the surface of what he’s trying to be. He’s a special talent, for sure.”

And one of the men responsible for giving Durant his first NFL chance has seen how much he’s grown.

“I think so. He made some plays even in the spring that stood where you can see he’s a great competitor,” head coach Sean McVay said. “Even when you watch his film and the way he played against Clemson he’s got a great play swagger. And he’s getting more comfortable.”

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