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November 28, 2013

Duran Christophe thankful to play for NC State

Fifth-year senior left guard Duran Christophe half-joked that he spent more time with his offensive line teammates this year than his own family.

Christophe and his wife, Lisette, and 2-year-old son Isaiah still see each other plenty, but a chapter is ending for the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder from New Orleans. The lone healthy scholarship senior of the offensive line will be playing his last NC State game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday against Maryland at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Christophe enters the contest with 29 starts, 42 games played and 2,253 plays. He also has played through an assortment of knee injuries, sprained ankles and suffered a concussion over the years. He has given his all to the University, but he knows how life keeps moving forward.

"This is going to be a week that I'll remember for the rest of my life," Christophe said. "There isn't another game and there isn't anything to hold back. I'm going to be reminiscing on a lot of different things. It's going to be a big week."

First-year coach Dave Doeren has emphasized a family atmosphere at NC State this past year. Christophe, who knows about ties that run through a family, said it isn't lip service.

"This year was different than any other year, honestly," Christophe said. "When I wasn't married, I was going out. I'd go eat somewhere and spend $50 and not even know it because I'd be laughing the whole time [this year]. I'm the only senior in the locker room [on the offensive line] and guys would come to me with things. I wasn't used to people looking up to me.

"I see the offensive lineman more than I see my son some days."

Christophe always had offensive linemen R.J. Mattes, Zach Allen and Andrew Wallace to look up to from the 2008 recruiting class. The multi-year starter also got to learn from Don Horton, Jim Bridge and current offensive line coach Mike Uremovich, over the last five years.

Christophe knows a thing or two about Senior Day's after watching his past teammates go through it. He is pretty sure he won't be shedding any tears, but you never know.

"I think my mother will be coming in, but my father will be waiting for graduation," Christophe said. "I know it will be emotional, but I never have cried on the football field. It will be nice to have my son on the 50-yard line. Hopefully, he'll enjoy that and remember that.

"I know Coach Bridge cried and was hugging all the seniors last year. R.J. Mattes was just mean and was ready for the game. Andrew was too tough to cry."

Christophe grew up in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina caused his family to move to Woodstock, Ga. Fate or destiny smiled down on Christophe because two of his most life-changing events happened in his new hometown. He noticed a girl in class during his sophomore year that had moved in from New Jersey to attend Woodstock High. He jokes that the girl had a little bit of a northern-based attitude after her move to the Deep South. That girl has become his wife Lisette.

"We had a big argument, but then I was so attractive and she liked that," Christophe said.

Another example of fate intervening is that Christophe lived about a mile from another talented lineman in the Atlanta area — Camden Wentz. The two struck up a friends while officially visiting Louisville, and then again while getting recruited by former NCSU linebackers coach Andy McCollum. The duo both signed with NC State and played side-by-side for three years.

"I remember flying to NC State and then driving back home with Wentz," said Christophe about his Wolfpack official visit. "That day had a lot to do with me committing."

Christophe said he feels like Wentz is older than him just because he played his last year a year ago. Christophe redshirted in 2009, while Wentz burned his redshirt.

"I feel like I was a little kid when I came here," Christophe said. "Now, I'm married and I have a son. I have a lot of different influences from coaches and situations. I'm a whole different person leaving than when I was coming."

Christophe will be earning his degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management this December. He has developed roots in Raleigh, but isn't sure what the next year holds. He is pondering the idea of being a football coach one day.

"After college, I'll have to ask my wife because she is running things," Christophe said. "She runs everything. She's been putting up with me while I've been going to school. I want to make it up to her. She's been taking classes online. Now, it's her turn to do her thing. As she said the other day, 'Happy wife, happy life.'"

Christophe was one of seven players from Georgia signed in the class of 2009, but only he and fifth-year senior Rashard Smith remain. The two Georgia products actually met each other before arriving on campus.

"There was a lot of us, but a lot of us didn't make it through too," Christophe said. "It was the state finals in track and field, and Rashard was doing his thing [for Dublin (Ga.) High]. I was wearing all red because I had committed to NC State. He saw me in the crowd and came to me. He's such a good guy and is doing really good."

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