#FreeDurf? Unlikely, but Washington's Zach Durfee keeps working, anyway
The NCAA won't let him play, but they can't keep him off the scout team.
(UPDATE, Dec. 5: A UW spokesperson confirmed that Durfee will be eligible after Dec. 15, the end of the academic quarter.)
Zach Durfee plotted the backflip, off a tractor tire and over a fence, “with no plan on landing it,” said his father, Jerry, even if Zach might tell it differently. It happened on Day 1 of captains’ practices at Dawson-Boyd High School in Dawson, Minn., where Zach was preparing for his senior football season in the summer of 2019.
He broke his fibula, separated the cartilage between his fibula and tibia, and sprained his MCL. He had surgery. He returned to play in two games, Jerry said, before a direct hit re-injured the leg and ended his senior season — and, along with it, his football career.
Or so he thought.
Nobody recruited Zach Durfee to play football out of high school. In fact, he eventually committed to play basketball at Gustavus Adolphus College, a Division III school in Saint Peter, Minn., about an hour outside Minneapolis, and had tailored his workouts to condition his 6-foot-5 frame — now 255 pounds, but much leaner then — for a future on the hardwood. But as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, the school suspended in-person instruction and told Durfee that it likely wouldn’t have much of a basketball season (it wound up playing only seven games, beginning in February 2021).
A couple weeks before classes were to start, Durfee told his parents he no longer wanted to attend. Instead, he enrolled at North Dakota State — merely as a student, and not as an athlete in any capacity — believing the in-person experience might be greater there.
He moved home after one semester.