Hello: Jaron Dukes

Submitted by Ace on February 22nd, 2012 at 3:47 PM

jarondukes

Sam Webb just broke the news on Twitter; yes, Michigan has picked up another commit:

LOL my life. Informative update forthcoming.

Informative Update: According to Michael Spath of The Wolverine, Dukes is the first-ever offensive skill position player from Columbus to commit to Michigan, which is pretty mind-boggling. Despite growing up in the heart of Buckeye country, Dukes actually is a lifelong Michigan fan, and he told me that he got emotional running onto the field at the Big House when he visited a couple weekends ago. Despite his trip going as well as it possibly could, he wanted to make sure he took the time to think things over and talk to his parents and coaches before coming to a decision; it appears he's thought things through.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
NR WR NR WR NR WR 3*, 87, #63 WR

As you can see, Dukes is flying under the radar right now and has yet to be ranked by any of the recruiting services, though I expect that will change soon now that he's committed to Michigan [EDIT: Talk about your quickly-fulfilled predictions; 24/7 just gave Dukes a three-star rating]. Though Dukes is listed at anywhere between 6'2" and 6'5" in his recruiting profiles, recent observations peg him at a legit 6'5", 200 pounds; he's definitely the big type of wideout that Al Borges has been looking for.

Bucknuts listed Dukes as their #29 prospect in Ohio for the class of 2013, and their evaluation included this quote from scout Mark Porter ($):

“He’s the biggest wide receiver in the class. He’s not as big as TY Williams a couple of years ago. But he has great size and is useful down around the goal line. He had a nice game against Trotwood.”

In that game against Trotwood—playing against cornerback and consensus top player in Ohio, Buckeye commit Cam Burrows—Dukes tallied six catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Scout's Dave Berk was on hand for that game, and while there are questions surrounding Dukes's speed, he seems to think that won't be a big issue ($):

At 6-foot-5, 200-pounds, Dukes has the physical size Notre Dame coaches love from the wide receiver position. Besides his size, Dukes showed surprising speed during his six-catch, 173-yard two-touchdown performance.

On one of Duke’s [sic] two touchdowns, Burrows had the angle to make the stop, but Dukes showed a burst that sent him past the standout corner that already holds an early offer from the Irish.

A recent Tim Sullivan feature talked about the strength of Jaron's game—his ability to high-point the football, a la Junior Hemingway—and had a glowing quote from his head coach ($):

Whichever school he does ultimately pick will be getting a talented wideout. Standing 6-5 and weighing 197 pounds, he's a physically-imposing receiver who can use his mass to shield defenders - and make blocks on the edge. He also has the body control to high-point the ball once it's in the air, and a knack for making plays after the catch.

"He's 6-4 or 6-5 legit, 200 pounds, he runs a 4.6," said Coach Haffele. "He has great ball skills catching the ball. 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."

We'll see about that 4.6; Dukes himself knows that he has to work on his speed to take his game to the next level, and he told me as much when I first interviewed him before his visit:

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.

As you'll see on film, Dukes is very reminiscent of Hemingway in his ability to go up and get the football. His speed doesn't stand out, though he's clearly working on changing that fact. Burner or no, he'll provide a big downfield target for Shane Morris and he should be a major weapon in the red zone.

OFFERS

Dukes also held offers from Illinois and Toledo while garnering interest from Cincinnati, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State; he visited OSU multiple times before reaching his decision, though he did not hold an offer.

STATS

Dukes told me he had 36 catches for 673 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.

FAKE 40 TIME

Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.6 seconds, the time his coach claims he ran. Seeing Dukes on tape, I have to give that a four FAKEs out of five; he's going to have to work on his speed, as has been said above, including by Jaron himself.

VIDEO

Junior highlights from ScoutingOhio:

It's difficult to get a read on his route-running from that short clip; hopefully more video surfaces in the near future, as there isn't even paywalled tape on Rivals right now.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

The evidence is flimsy indeed, but Dukes—like every receiver from the 2012 and 2013 class—is going to have every opportunity to compete for playing time right away. When Dukes arrives on campus, the Wolverines will have just six returning wideouts—Jeremy Jackson (SR), Jeremy Gallon (SR), Drew Dileo (SR), Jerald Robinson (JR), Amara Darboh (SO), and Jehu Chesson (SO)—and the only players with even comparable size are Jackson and Chesson, who both stand at 6'3".

That said, Dukes is a developmental prospect, and it seems likely he'll take a redshirt year as long as the Wolverines don't suffer attrition, especially if they can bring in a blue-chip prospect like Laquon Treadwell in the 2013 class. Dukes appears to be a late-bloomer—he told me his coaches said he "couldn't catch a cold" as a freshman—so there's a chance he makes a big leap up in the rankings and changes that opinion. With little film to go on, for now I see him as another Hemingway type; a big receiver who uses his body well and is a deep threat by virtue of his size and leaping ability, but not a burner who's going to be a steady possession receiver.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan now has 12 commits in the class of 2013, almost certainly more than half of what they'll take in a class projected to fill out at around 20-22 players. Dukes represents a player of major need at receiver, and the Wolverines will take at least one more player at the position; Treadwell seems to be the leader in the clubhouse for that spot, but Michigan has 14 other offers out to uncommitted prospects. Other positions of need include one more offensive lineman, an every-down running back, nose tackle, and depth in the back seven, specifically at linebacker (likely just one, and M can be picky) and cornerback.

Brady Hoke... I really just don't know what else there is to say about his—and his coaching staff's—effort on the recruiting trail. I've run out of platitudes, but this class is already on pace to be one of the top five—at least—in the country. It's still February. This is relatively unprecedented, but you know that already.

Comments

mgoDave

February 22nd, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

WOW this class is unbelievable already. Loved this kid in the interview that was posted a while back.  Also his film was quite impressive.  Hoke and Co. are doing some great work

Rabbit21

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:01 PM ^

Someone get Ace some little bandages for his fingers as typing through the next seven commits is probably going to be rough.

Otherwise this is great news, it's always good to lock down a lifelong Michigan fan, especially one who's a big, tall target.  Welcome aboard Jaron!

Bodogblog

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:03 PM ^

Welcome Jaron!  Can't wait to see you elevating for TD's in the NW corner of the end zone, in front of the screaming students.  I'll be on the opposite side, but one of the roaring 115,000 nonetheless. 

Profwoot

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:09 PM ^

Seems like a nice pickup. Any guesses why he hasn't been evaluated by anyone yet?

I'm guessing that Michigan takes 3 receivers in this class, and I wouldn't mind seeing them take 4. 3 because we need them, and 4 because with Shane Morris and this OL class, this is an opportunity to attract some elite talent.

uminks

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:19 PM ^

He looks like he has the skills to be a starter by 2014 or 2015. Any one know his ratings? I bet Hoke and his coaches may have signed him under the radar, he'll probably be a four star next season!

hart4eva

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^

Good get! I really like the balance that it appears we will have on offense going forward. We'll have some tall receivers with Dukes and Chesson. We'll have some slot ninjas with Norfleet and Hayes. We'll have a variety of tight ends with Butt, Hill, and Funchess. We'll have the QBs with Gardner and Morris. Now if we could just get Ty Isaac and Laquon Treadwell...

bronxblue

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:22 PM ^

Another nice pick-up.  Who cares about closing well when you are doing this type of work early in the recruiting process?  I am also happy to see Hoke and co. start to recruit more skill players, as that was the one concern I had after last year's stellar class was a little shallow on the position groups.  This class now has a RB/Ath (I know, that might not be the position Shallman ultimately suits up) and a WR, and both look like the big guys you need for a more pro-style system.

Butterfield

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:23 PM ^

Seems like he has one of those hybrid football/basketball frames.  Anybody know if he can hoop it up?  I miss the days of having a football player on the hoops squad, was Tai Streets our last?

Butterfield

February 22nd, 2012 at 6:13 PM ^

Yeah, he was never a member of both teams at the same time.  And it is possible, the way it typically works is the player will focus on football until the season is over and join the basketball team at a fairly early point in the conference schedule.   Tai Streets did it and actually got some run with Michigan in the mid/late 90's.  MSU had that highly touted cornrowed receiver (name escapes me) that never really reached his potential a few years ago.