2013 Recruiting: Jaron Dukes

Submitted by Brian on August 2nd, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York.

       
Columbus, OH – 6'4", 200
       

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Scout

3*, NR overall
#60 WR

Rivals

3*, NR overall
#60 WR, #40 OH

ESPN

4*, #233 overall
#33 WR, #14 OH

24/7

3*, NR overall 
#84 WR, #31 OH

Other Suitors

Illinois

YMRMFSPA Taller Junior Hemingway
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace; Ace interviews him, twice.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Junior highlights:

Youtube also has video of Dukes brushing his teeth like a weirdo.

 

Michigan had brought in some large dudes the year before (Funchess, obviously, and both Darboh and Chesson hover around 6'2") but it was Jaron Dukes's commitment that truly inaugurated the era of enormous receivers at all costs at Michigan. Though he probably doesn't quite stand the 6'5" he was reputed to when he committed, it's clear that his size and body control are excellent while his speed is an Area For Improvement.

His coach is pretty blunt about it:

"He's realized he's at home on the field. He's a big 6'5, 200-lb receiver and he runs well. He's not a burner. He's a 4.6 guy, but he has tremendous, good hands. He has a great ceiling because he's only played football for three years …."

"He needs to work on overall size and speed. He needs to get to that 4.5 range to be legit in the Big Ten. In the Big Ten, the defensive backs are stronger, bigger, faster, so he has to get his body bigger, stronger, faster."

This was known from the beginning. His coming out party was as a junior in the state semi-finals, where he had six catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns against Cam Burrows and Trotwood-Madison. His first touchdown was a fade on which Dukes skied over Burrows and then ran through his tackle attempt for an 80-yarder. Separation achieved: zero. Separation needed: zero. Great success.

Dukes had a modicum of hype after that performance, but his total aversion to camps and lack of film out there—Scout posted some junior year stuff in December (ie, after his senior year), saying they'll "take what they can get" on Dukes—saw him remain in the three-star territory everywhere except ESPN, which is the least camp-oriented site. It didn't help that his production fell off, with just 31 catches for 553 yards and nine TDs as a senior. MGoUser Dubs took in a Dukes game and reported back a lot of that was due to his quarterback, who was a dual-threat sort, and in high school this often means "can't throw a lick."

They liked him enough to put him in their 300, because his speed is okay in their book given the rest of the package:

Dukes is a really good looking player with great size, length, wing span and deceptive elusiveness and top-end speed. He is a more agile, faster and physical version of 2012 prospect and Oregon WR Dwayne Stanford…. He has quick feet for a big guy and more than adequate speed. He is quick, fast, has a burst coming out of his cuts and can get good separation, but he is doing it on athleticism alone at this stage. He has good hands and very good ball skills. He can make the catch away from his body and is not shy about going over the middle. He possesses very good body control and change-of-direction skills, and he shows that he can turn a short gain into a big play. … He must learn how to become a good route runner through precision, tempo and spacing.

Others pretty much agree but chalk his lack of separation up to speed instead of much more fixable route-running issues. That scout eval mentioned above:

He's a big target, and uses it, as he does a nice job of going up and getting the ball and using his body to gain position on defensive backs. He's smooth, but not a speed demon, not a sudden guy, but he has shown that he can get into the open field and outrun guys in the open field. As he gets into a college weight program, he's going to get big. He has a great frame, and it wouldn't surprise us to see him as a 215-220-lb college receiver creating mismatches and being a red zone threat. We wouldn't even rule out some flex tight end.

Argh maybe should have saved BJ Cunningham for this guy. Anyway, Dukes's Scout profile's actual Areas For Improvement are "elusiveness with catch" and "quickness off line"; they like his blocking, ability to be a red zone weapon, and largeosity.

Kyle Bogenschutz caught a game of his as well:

Very impressed with his physical tools. …his attention to detail really jumps out. Dukes runs hard, crisp routes, specifically come back and curl routes that were very effective all night against a tough Pickerington Central defense. Dukes made a few people miss after the catch on a few occasions Friday night and dragged defenders with him to the ground after picking up an extra couple of yards. It appears Dukes can improve on locating the ball in the air and using proper timing to go up and get it.

So… the opposite of that ESPN evaluation. Back to Dubs:

As far as the eyeball test goes, Dukes did not seem to show a lot of explosiveness, either off the line or to create separation against the defenders (it was kind of a soggy/muggy night, so the field may have been less-than-pristine).  There were many times in which the QB was scrambling and, rather than hit that extra gear, he seemed to simply jog. … he did look strong after the catch, breaking a few arm tackles and showing of a pretty solid stiff-arm.

And that's about it as far as scouting reports go. As mentioned, it seems like as soon as he got the Michigan offer he was content to focus on his game: no camps, no senior highlights, nothing. This partially explains the dearth of offers listed above: he may have got some additional ones, but Dukes doesn't give a dang about reporting them.

As you might imagine, a guy who cares not a whit about getting love from the recruiting services fits The Pattern. His coach:

"He's very coachable," Haffele said. "That's probably his biggest asset. When guys start getting recruited heavy, you get the 'me' thing and the 'I' thing, but you ask him to block, he will. He's an honest, coachable young man."

Also:

"He's a pretty good blocker. All that god-given talent he has. And then, once you meet the kid and talk to him, that's the selling point. He's just such a great kid."

Etc.: I've seen like four hook and ladders from his team just watching his film. Weird. He's the hook guy, FWIW.

Why Taller Junior Hemingway? Well, he's taller. He also promises to be a leaping downfield threat that goes up and high-points balls smaller defensive backs can't get to, the kind of guy that ends up on the end of a lot of "nonononono YESSSSS" balls. Hemingway was also a 3/4 star tweener, albeit one a bit more highly ranked than Dukes overall.

Dukes is going to be a big, thick kid, as well. Hopefully his blocking is better than Hemingway's, which was erratic at best.

Guru Reliability: Low. Guy was in stealth mode for much of his career.

Variance: Moderate. Top-end is not amazing; low end is Jeremy Jackson, a guy who just can't get out of the hip pocket of defensive backs.

Ceiling: Moderate. Is never going to be a guy who can crush you over the top, will have to work hard for most of the balls he brings in. A guy who gets more valuable as the field shrinks, though.

General Excitement Level: Moderate-minus. Again, seems like a useful piece instead of a potential #1. I think the class before this (Darboh, Chesson) and the two classes after (Ways, Canteen, Harris, Campbell) have about 4 candidates for the #1 jersey, though, so it's fine that this WR class will fill in the gaps.

Projection: One of the freshmen WR will play, and I couldn't tell you who. Whoever does will be mostly blocking, anyway. I'm guessing Dukes gets a redshirt because with Jeremy Gallon around Michigan doesn't need an endzone fade target.

Down the road, Dukes is in the same spot that his classmates are: looking up at the two guys from last year for the next couple years and watching tight end types eat into their playing time. Dukes's projected role as a sideline fade merchant will probably lock him in behind outside receivers until he's an upperclassman. Both York and Jones have attributes that project to the slot better.

Unless Dukes beats out one of the 2012 guys, when Darboh goes in three years Dukes will have his first major opportunity. By that point he'll have fierce competition from a third-year Drake Harris and second-year George Campbell. Michigan rotates their WRs to keep them fresh, so a role off the bench is not no role. I'm not sure Michigan's recruiting is going to allow Dukes a whole lot more unless Jehu Chesson doesn't work out (which he totally will) or injury strikes.

Comments

GoBlueInNYC

August 2nd, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

Seems pretty light for a TE. Coming in at 200 lb with at least one scout suggesting his eventual size will only be near 220.

There has been a lot of praise for Darboh coming from players (Gardner was just talking him up recently somewhere), and there has been the occassional mention of Chesson looking good (I think one of the coaches mentioned him recently). So definitely positive chatter that may or may not actually reflect their abilities.

Darboh at least has had some acrobatic catches that were circulating around the internet in video and/or picture form back in the spring.

Monocle Smile

August 2nd, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

I don't want to offend you, but there's been quite a bit of buzz on both Darboh and Chesson in the offseason, and most of it has been put on this site.

A bunch of spring practice highlights involved Chesson making crazy circus catches in the endzone and he was specifically called out by Hoke in one of the latest pressers as a guy who's really stepped up.

Gardner's been high on Darboh for quite a while (says he could be an All-American) and he had a really nice catch in the spring game. I'm guessing you didn't manage to watch it, in which case you're only missing that catch, a big one by Funchess, a touchdown by Butt, and Henry, Charlton, and Clark destroying backup OL.

Elmer

August 2nd, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

The projections make sense, but the real world always brings some surprises.  Chances are that one of our "stud" WRs will disappoint and at least one of the three 2013 guys will overachieve and become a really good player.  Either way, it will be fun watching it unfold.

Shop Smart Sho…

August 2nd, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

I was assuming that Dukes would be the FR to play this year.  His celing isn't as high, he seems to already be nearly college size, and he can high-point a ball.  As much as we all love seeing Gallon fire off his jet pack to get a fade in the endzone, I don't think it takes much to assume that the guy 6 inches taller is going to be better at it.  And if he already blocks as well as his coach is saying, he can't be worse than Funchess was last year.

With all of that being said, burning his RS year seems to make a lot of sense.

TWSWBC

August 2nd, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

While I agree his height would help him on jump balls, I disagree with the blocking argument even though his form may be better. Funchess was tasked with blocking DEs while Dukes would have to block CBs and there's a big difference in handling the bigger guy

Shop Smart Sho…

August 2nd, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

Exactly.  I think from their respective profiles coming in we can safely assume that Dukes is at least as good as Funchess when it comes to blocking.  Dukes would be asked to block guys that are a lot easier to handle, and will probably be taller and outweigh he majority of them.

With that in mind, he should be better at his blocking assignments than Funchess was last year, while still offering similar match-up difficulties and leaping abilities.

ChiBlueBoy

August 2nd, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

He seems like a potentially great possession receiver, particularly on 3rd downs. If he can learn to settle into gaps in zone coverage and high-point the ball, with his big target he may not need 4.4 speed.

ohio

August 2nd, 2013 at 3:23 PM ^

I'm such a groupie but its just awesome to me to see my HS FB coach's quotes blocked off in write ups on this blog. I can say for certain that Dukes' senior year drop off was due to the lack of a good QB because I played in the same system a year before the program took off and became a fixture in the state playoffs every year. And, as I have compared before, when Ernie Wheelwright came from our school to play for Minny, he also was a basketball player turned FB player with exactly the same build as Dukes. Wheelwright was all BIG Ten his Senior year at Minny and if grades weren't an issue would have shined on a better team. I expect good things from Dukes.

vdiddy24

August 2nd, 2013 at 3:28 PM ^

Some of the Purdue receivers from the late 90s and early 2000s. They always had a few 6'5'' receivers that were never game changers against the premier CBs in the Big 10 but always had some functional value when they were able to shift into weaker matchups against Nickel or Dime CBs who weren't used to being tasked with bigger WRs.

Or at the very least, were able to beat up on Ball State.

True Blue Grit

August 3rd, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

overflowing with tall wide receivers.  Dukes may have a lot of trouble getting many looks with the competition he's going to be facing.  It also makes me wonder if maybe we need a couple more underneath, slot-type guys to get those tough short passes more near the center of the field.  I think you always want a Drew Dileo sort of guy who can get open quickly, make the big catch, and keep the chains moving.  Just idle wondering on a slow Saturday p.m.