By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Former Enid Plainsmen standout Trent Dupy is finishing his football career at the University of Tulsa just the way he hoped he would — at the Liberty Bowl with the Conference USA champions.
“Coming in here, I wanted to be an all-conference player and come out as a conference champion,’’ said Dupy, who will be TU’s starting center for Monday’s Liberty Bowl against Iowa State.
“I did those things my senior year. It definitely exceeded my expectations.’’
Dupy was a second-team All-Conference USA selection during a season in which he graded 90 or higher in eight of TU’s 13 games.
Dupy has started in 49 of his 51 career games so far at Tulsa and the Liberty Bowl will be the third postseason game he’s played in.
“TU was a perfect fit overall,’’ Dupy said. “What really helped me was our offensive scheme. It fit a guy like myself (6-foot-2 and 285 pounds) and what I’m good at. I’m able to move my feet and be mobile.’’
Dupy came to TU at 260 pounds and built himself him in the weight room.
He said first-year strength and conditioning coach Adam Davis “helped to get us to the next level.’’
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger over the years,’’ he said. “I still have a size disadvantage, but I’ve been able to use my skills, quickness and leverage to my advantage.’’
He is looking forward to a second chance at Iowa State, which beat the Golden Hurricane 38-23 in the season opener Sept. 1.
Tulsa had three turnovers and surrendered a 16-7 first-quarter lead in the season-opening loss.
“That game could have swung either way,’’ Dupy said. “We’re looking forward to playing them and having a chance to redeem ourselves.”
The Iowa State defensive line are big, physical rangy guys in the 6-foot-5, 290-pound mold. The Golden Hurricane had 358 yards in total offense the first meeting and average 4.7 yards a carry.
“I think we will be able to run around the zone and be able to throw the football and wear them down as the game goes on,’’ Dupy said.
Dupy is coming off his top moment at TU — the 33-27 overtime win over Central Florida in the C-USA Championship on Dec. 1.
Alex Singleton’s one-yard run for the winning score was a result of Dupy’s block.
“To drive the ball down the field and be able to run it down the middle and score the game-winning touchdown ... that was the most endearing moment of my career here,’’ Dupy said.
“We had a special play for the (winning touchdown). They let us line up and let us do what we had been doing and get the job done. They gave us an opportunity to show what we could do and we did our jobs.’’
His second favorite moment came during his sophomore year when the Golden Hurricane stunned Notre Dame 28-27 in South Bend. TU had a pass interception in the end zone to seal the victory.
“That was a crazy scene,’’ Dupy said.
Dupy is accustomed to good bowl trips. TU went to the Hawaii Bowl his sophomore year and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth last season.
“Hawaii was a fun trip,’’ Dupy said, “but this one is better. We’re pretty excited. We have been working hard all year for this and things paid off with the conference championship. This is a chance to hang out with my teammates for a few days and get an opportunity to have one more win.’’
The trip has been both entertaining and enlightening.
Both teams visited St. Jude’s Shriners Hospital, which treats children with cancer. That had an impact on him.
“To get to see the smiles on their faces and their families’ faces and knowing you were making a difference in their lives, makes you feel good,’’ Dupy said.
The team also has visited Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley.
“Memphis is a special place,’’ Dupy said. “You look at Elvis’ old stomping grounds and you see a lot of history.’’
The game will be emotional for him, knowing it’s his last as a Golden Hurricane. Dupy has seen TU go from 5-7 his freshman season to 10-3, 8-5 and 10-3 going into Monday.
“It’s pretty crazy how fast the last four years have gone,’’ he said. “To have started since my freshman year ... you want to go out on top. I know I’m going to leave it out on the field.’’
He said the keys to TU’s success were the atmosphere around the program and outstanding coaches such as head coach Bill Blankenship.
“We don’t go after guys who get in trouble and stuff like that,’’ he said. “We have guys who you can trust ... good guys from good families.
“The special thing at the University of Tulsa is the relationship you have with the other guys. You don’t see that at a lot of other places. I played with a bunch of guys I played against in high school. It was fun to develop relationships that will be there the rest of our lives.’’
He is especially close with fellow Enid grad Colby Scott and area players such as Derek Patterson of Kingfisher and Hennessey’s Derrick and Matt Luetjen. Dupy follows EHS through the Internet and Scott, whose brother Jake is a standout football player and wrestler.
He has grown especially close to Blankenship, who recruited Dupy out of EHS.
“He’s a great man of character and faith,’’ Dupy said. “He’s made great changes in the program over the last two years. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him take TU to a BCS bowl some day.’’
Dupy will be getting his degree in May in exercise and sports science with a minor in education.
“I definitely take pride in my education,’’ Dupy said. “It was one of the reasons why I came here. I have come a long ways the past four years. It was a great experience for me and my family to experience. We have had a lot of opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise.’’
He hopes to get to play in the RAYCOM College Football All-Star Classic in Montgomery, Ala. on Jan. 19.
He will be working out with Davis and his staff for TU’s Pro Day in March. He doesn’t want the Liberty Bowl to be his football finale.
“I haven’t heard anything up to this point,’’ said Dupy about a possible pro career. “I definitely want to play this game as long as I can and do whatever I can to make it happen and further my career. I’m optimistic I can be seen at least as a free agent.’’
If not, he has a backup plan. If the NFL doesn’t work out, he hopes to go to graduate school and be a graduate assistant somewhere.
“I would like to get into college coaching and coach offensive lineman,’’ he said.
But the Liberty Bowl comes first.
“I predict Tulsa will be on top,’’ said Dupy when asked for a prediction. “I definitely look forward to coming out with a victory and living the rest of my life as a Liberty Bowl champion.’’