Dalton Durossette ended his baseball career prematurely due to an injury to his throwing arm.
The former Ceres High School multi-sport athlete/2020 Central Catholic grad opted against having surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right shoulder because of the length of the recovery process and there was no guarantee he’d be able to regain his pitching velocity of 90-plus miles per hour.
Durossette still had an itch to compete so he decided to join the Modesto Junior College football team this fall.
“My passion for baseball is still there,” said Durossette, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 240 pounds. “I still watch the sport. I help coach my little cousins. I miss everything about it. But I knew there would be a day when my career would end. Mine came early. It took me a while to find myself and figure out what I wanted to do. I’m playing football. I’m really enjoying it. I’m happy where I’m at. I’ll be happier when I get to a four-year school.”
A late addition to the Pirates, Durossette earned the starting punter position and is a backup tight end.
“I was going to wait until next season to play,” Durossette said. “But they really needed a punter. It all just fell into place. A lot of people take special teams for granted. They play a huge part on a football team.”
“It’s different playing another position,” he added. “The ball isn’t in your hand every single play. It’s taken time to get used to. I go out there every day and try to do my best. It’s really competitive. Compared to high school, it’s a huge step up. Guys treat practice like games. Every rep counts. People are fighting for jobs every day. You have to love the game to be successful.”
Modesto Junior College improved to 3-1 on the season with a 38-17 win at Butte College on Saturday.
Durossette’s lone punt sailed a career-high 63 yards and was downed inside the Roadrunners’ 20-yard line.
He also caught one pass for 3 yards.
Durossette has punted 16 times for 593 yards through the Pirates’ first four games.
He’s averaging 37.1 yards per punt.
Two of Durossette’s punts have been downed inside the 20.
He has one touchback.
“You’re never satisfied,” Durossette said. “There’s always room for improvement with hang time, distance and getting the ball downed inside the 20.”
Durossette decided to contribute on offense to get a jump start on learning Modesto JC’s playbook.
He plans to compete for the starting quarterback positon next season.
“I can’t throw a baseball to save my life,” he said. “I can throw a football just fine. It’s different motions. I want to play quarterback at the next level. If not, punting is the other option.”
Durossette originally planned to play baseball for Santa Clara University after graduating from Central Catholic. He signed a national letter of intent with the NCAA Division-I Broncos in November of 2019.
When the NCAA granted spring college athletes impacted by the coronavirus pandemic extra years of eligibility, it created a backlog on rosters.
“Nothing against Santa Clara,” Durossette said. “It was a personal decision I decided to make. It wasn’t easy. Giving up the scholarship was hard. Had COVID not happened, I’d probably be playing baseball. But I would have had to have surgery and redshirt my freshman year.”
Durossette turned down an offer to sign with the Oakland Athletics as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 2020. He would have received a signing bonus up to $20,000.
“The A’s reached out to me,” he said. “I told them no. I would have got paid more to go to Santa Clara. I felt if I went to college I’d develop a little more. That was my thought process.”
Durossette drew interest from Pac-12, Mountain West Conference and Big Sky Conference football programs for his play on the gridiron in high school.
“I had a lot of schools talk to me for football,” he said. “Unfortunately, I verballed too early for baseball.”
Durossette compiled a 1-0 record on the mound with a 3.28 ERA, 15 strikeouts and four walks during his final season with Central Catholic’s baseball program. The Raiders’ 2020 season was shortened to just six games due to public safety concerns related to COVID-19.
Durossette batted .357 from the plate with one homer, one triple, nine RBIs and four runs in four games. He had on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages of .471, .714 and 1.185, respectively.
Durossette injured his throwing arm while pitching against Placer.
“I knew something was wrong with my shoulder,” said Durossette, whose fastball dropped from mid-90s to 70 miles per hour in his final start.
Durossette earned first-team all-VOL honors for his outstanding play at quarterback and punter in football senior year.
He passed for 1,773 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions as the Raiders compiled a 6-6 overall record, advanced to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs and finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Valley Oak League (5-1).
Durossette had six punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Durossette had a productive junior season on the baseball diamond.
He posted a 3-1 record with a 2.10 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 40 innings.
He hit .311 with one triple, one double, 11 RBIs, 12 runs and 10 stolen bases as the Raiders went 18-13, reached the finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs and finished second in the VOL standings (8-4).
Durossette attended Ceres High prior to transferring to Central Catholic in February 2018.
He garnered second-team all-Western Athletic Conference recognition in varsity football his sophomore year with the Bulldogs.
He threw for 1,709 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine picks.
A standout pitcher and infielder in varsity baseball as a freshman, Durossette was named to the WAC First Team.
He batted .410 with one homer, three doubles, 22 RBIs, 34 runs and 11 stolen bases.
Durossette amassed a 7-4 record with a 2.53 ERA, one no-hitter, one shutout, three complete games and 56 strikeouts on the mound.