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|
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
4*, #233 overall
3*, NR overall
|YMRMFSPA||Taller Junior Hemingway|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace; Ace interviews him, twice.|
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."
"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.