|Clarke Duncan was a walk-on at Alcorn State. (via Facebook)|
Actor Michael Clarke Duncan looked more like a football player.
"That's the truth," said former Alcorn State men's basketball coach Davey Whitney, who coached Duncan in 1983-84.
The 6-foot-4 Duncan, best-known for his Oscar-nominated performance in "The Green Mile", was a walk-on for one season at Alcorn State, where he made a lasting impression on Whitney.
"He was a tough, physical player," Whitney told CBSSports.com on Tuesday. "He was undersized and didn't weigh much back then, but he was very strong and powerful."
Duncan died Monday of complications from a heart attack he suffered back in July. He was 54. He took up acting in his 30's and was in "Armageddon," "Planet of the Apes" and "Kung Fu Panda." However, the Chicago native played at Kankakee Community College in Illinois and then earned a spot on the travel squad at Alcorn. He wound up leaving after just one season for what Whitney deemed "family issues."
"He didn't play a lot of minutes, but when he played, he contributed," Whitney said. "He could play, but he had some family problems and had to quit."
Whitney described Duncan as a "fun-loving" guy, someone "who didn't take kindly when you did him wrong." He said he talked to Duncan several times when he was a bouncer at a Chicago nightclub, but then lost touch when he moved to the west coast and eventually broke into acting.
"He had that deep voice," Whitney said. "But that could fool people because he was such a nice guy."
"And he was a pretty good player," he added. "He was just tough. He'd knock guys around. It's really sad that he's gone at such a young age."