Life these days is different for Dez Duron, a former Louisiana high school football star and junior-varsity quarterback for Yale University.
"I grew up in a football family. Football is religion in my hometown of Shreveport. Guys were trying to kill me all the time on the field," Duron said. "These days, girls are saying I'm cute. I'm not mad at the change. it's just a little ... different."
Duron, you see, is one of the contestants on NBC's "The Voice" this fall. Girls are swooning as he sings each song, and even a host -- not the one you think -- finds him cute.
— The Voice (@NBCTheVoice) September 25, 2012
This is all a little strange for Duron, who just two years ago played quarterback for the junior varsity football team of Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
Playbook had a few minutes with Duron to talk about singing, football and what he'd be doing these days if not for both.
How did you go from Shreveport, La., to Yale?
"I'm 5-feet-11. When I was in high school, I was 165 pounds. I knew I wasn't going to get much looks for the big college football programs, but with my good grades and test scores, my coaches thought I could play for a school in the Ivy League. That league doesn't necessarily get all the blue-chippers who are 6-2 or 6-3. I thought they'd be willing to give a look to a little shrimp like me."
What was that experience like?
"I was there for two years and played on the junior-varsity team. When I got there, this great quarterback decided to transfer to Yale, so I figured he'd take over the starting job. That was that. I had a great time and I loved playing for the team."
So you tried out for "The Voice" last season and didn't make it. But you didn't go back to school. You stayed out in Los Angeles. Why?
"I certainly wasn't unhappy at Yale. I loved college. I miss it a lot. But singing is all I ever wanted to do. When the opportunity came up, I didn't have any reason to say no. The stars were aligning. The only thing stopping me was that I was afraid of change. But I couldn't let that stop me. I knew I could come back to Yale. I wasn't that important for the team to win. If I was starting or the team needed me, there would be no chance I would have gone. They understood and supported my decision."
What was it like telling your family?
"Football has been my life. My dad started the program I went to. I spent almost every afternoon with my dad as he was coaching the team at my school. See, my grandparents started the school I went to: Evangel Christian Academy. It has produced a lot of top-notch athletes like Brock Berlin and John David Booty. So it definitely was strange that football was going to have no place in my life."
So what was their reaction?
"My parents are extremely supportive of me. As you can tell, it was not an easy situation. I don't know if not playing football was as scary as me leaving school, leaving Yale. That was something very special to them and a very proud moment for my family."
It's time for eliminations on the show this week. How do you think you'll react?
"It's so strange. When I used to watch these shows, people acted so sad when someone got eliminated. I thought, 'How well do you know that person?' But people don't realize you're spending months with these people in hotels and they are the only people you hang out with and talk to. You build a strong relationship. Eliminations are going to be hard if I go home or someone else. It's very hard to see someone go when you know they care about it so much and you care about them so much."
If it doesn't work out for you this season, what's next?
"I definitely want to try everything while in California. Music is want I want to do. I don't want to lose sight of that. But I'm in love with all the arts. I did plays and musicals in high school. Right now, it's all about the music. But, as you get older, you start to get realistic. You start thinking about what else I would enjoy doing. Since my dad is still involved with the school, I possibly might get my doctorate and help my dad teach and be an administrator. I have a heart for the kids and want them to realize their dreams."