"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes may have grown up deep in enemy territory, but he's a lifelong Michigan fan. His childhood favorites extended a scholarship offer on signing day and the Wolverines immediately jumped to the forefront of his recruitment. The 6'5", 200-pound junior also holds an offer from Toledo and has interest from several prominent Midwest schools, but other suitors might have to hurry if they want a say before he makes a decision. I talked to Jaron last night and he made it very clear which team leads for him in a big way:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment, and which schools are going after you the hardest right now?
JARON: Everything's going great. I'm starting to hear from Ohio State, all of a sudden I'm starting to hear a lot more from Michigan, Michigan State, and I'm getting letters from Nebraska now and Illinois.
ACE: You got your Michigan offer recently. What was your reaction to that and what are your thoughts on the school and the program?
JARON: Ecstatic. (laughs) I'm going up there for a visit on Friday. When I first got the offer my mind was blown.
ACE: I know you're coming out of Columbus. Did you grow up as a Michigan fan or were you an Ohio State guy?
JARON: I was a Michigan fan all my life. I got a lot of criticism, you know, being a Michigan fan in Ohio.
ACE: Is that going to play a factor at all when it comes down to making a decision?
JARON: I think I kind of have my mind set on where I want to go. I think all I can do is pray on it and make sure, hope I make the right decision.
ACE: You said you've got your mind set on it. In terms of a timeline, when do you think you're going to make that decision?
JARON: I'm not sure. I'd like to talk it over with my coaches and everything and make sure that's what I really want to do—[see if I should] visit the college more than once, see it in different environments like dorm food, after school, and on weekends, make sure that's where I officially want to be, and do the same for other schools.
ACE: How did your junior season go and what kind of numbers did you put up?
JARON: I thought my junior season went very well. I didn't know it was going to be that good. My freshman year my coaches always said "you can't catch a cold," and I dropped everything that came towards me. Other than that, I think it went very well. I had 663 or 673 yards, 18.5 yards per catch, 36 catches, and seven touchdowns.
ACE: If you had to evaluate your game, what would say are your biggest strengths on the field and what are you trying to work on for your senior year and beyond?
JARON: My biggest strengths are being able to read the secondary, keeping a level head, going out there and having fun and being able to go out and catch, just catch the ball. I would love to get faster. They keep telling me speed kills, so I want to be the fastest one out there. I want to be the fastest one on the field.
ACE: I know it sounds like you're leaning towards Michigan right now, but in terms of when it comes down to making your choice, what are you looking for in a school specifically?
JARON: Academics, somewhere where I can be happy. The technique of the game, if they're a passing team, if they're going to pass me the ball when it's there or if they're just going to keep running the ball. Somewhere where it just feels right.
ACE: Moving off the field, what's one thing you'd want people to know about you that has nothing to do with football?
JARON: (laughs) Oh, man, I don't really know. I draw a lot. I love music. I like sitting—sometimes I just like being by myself and just relaxing.
ACE: What kind of music?
JARON: I listen to all types of music. Country, rock, metal, rap, R&B. The funny thing is, a lot of times, I don't like the new generation of rap now.
ACE: I'm with you there. I like the old school stuff, but the new stuff isn't really my thing.
Sort of reminds me of Marques Colston. Not game changing speed, but seems to have great arm extesnion, and runs crisp routes. That's the one thing I hate about the SEC, there's way too much emphasis put on speed, and not enough put on technique and hands. That's why you have so many SEC WR's bust in the NFL. Because when they get there, their speed isn't so game changing anymore, because they can't run a proper NFL caliber out route.
Speed can make a difference if you have a QB with great accuracy down the field. But, I'll take a guy with great hands, runs excellent routes, and has great timing with his leaps for the ball any day. I hope this kid has all those qualities.
"You owe it to every man, woman, and child in the State of Michigan to beat the Buckeyes and silence their fans! Now go out there and make it happen!"
We probably have different views on that. I'm going mid-to-late 90s (and yes, I realize that's not "old school" to many, but I was talking to a high schooler)—early Nas and Jay-Z, Outkast, Gang Starr, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, all that good stuff. I like a fair amount of the relatively recent rap, too, but the Soulja Boy revolution in popular rap music really was unfortunate. Same with guys with a ton of potential like Lil' Wayne (Tha Carter II was great) and Drake (his early mixtapes were solid) going for record sales and putting out garbage the last few years. I can't speak for Jaron there, though.
I'm just excited about the new generation of Ace i.e. adding in tidbits of personality, hobbies, etc. on the players. Don't get me wrong, I come here for the sport-related info but a little bit extra is nice too. Great work, Ace, way to spread your wings!
Saw them live at Rock the Bells a couple summers ago—those guys can still put on a fantastic show. Also caught Method Man when he came to the Blind Pig back when I was in college, and he was great as a solo act, too. Not sure how he pulled that off, since his post-Tical albums have been awful, but his stage presence is ridiculous—helped that he was doing a lot of stuff off Blackout, I think, even though Redman wasn't there.
I coach high school football, and a lot of times old school is like Snoop, Jay-Z, Eminem just because they have been around a while. Either that, or nothing with a voice synthesizer. How times have changed.
I suppose a lot would depend on need....would we rather have a TE or a WR with TE height and WR speed? I like how he says he wants to be the fastest kid on the field. (Good thing he wouldn't be playing next year...he'd be fighting for second place every time DRob is on the field.)
“If worms had machine guns, birds would be afraid of 'em.”
Does anyone else find it as satisfying, or even moreso, that he's from Columbus and growing up a Michigan fan? As opposed to a kid that we flipped during his recruitment? I admire his convictions and so excited to see a kid with that level of dedication wearing Maize and Blue.
“If worms had machine guns, birds would be afraid of 'em.”
Like Jaron, I grew up outside of Cbus (Pickerington) as a UM fan. My experience was a little bit different though since it was during the Cooper era. The suckeye fanatics were no where near as annoying as they are today. Your general non-true sportsfans could not care less about OSU. Now that they had some success, EVERYONE jumped on the wagon. Way too many uninformed fanatics running around that town nowadays.
Also, I never had any trouble finding fellow UM fans back in the day. I haven't lived there for over ten years, so I would be curious to know how prevalent UM fans are nowadays.
Journal Entry - Day 782 of living amongst inbreds - Actually heard this today, "I don't see what the big deal is. All he was doin' was protectin' the players. What's wrong with that?"
I like this kid a lot and I think he has a lot of potential. To me, it looked like he's someone who is still growing into his body. I don't know how much he's grow recently, but I think he can get stronger and that'll help him become faster and more crisp in running routes. He's very raw right now, and while he may play immediately with that size, I think he'd benefit greatly with a redshirt. I think he'll be a beast either way.
And I obviously love guys with a passion for Michigan who grew up in Ohio.