Running Back, 2019 Commit
The Kraken: High 3-Stars
Rivals: Low 3-Stars, 247: High 3-Stars, ESPN: High 3-Stars
Recruited by Tony Elliot
2/5/19 – Wait, there’s more. The commits just keep on coming. Say hello to commit #27, Michel Dukes. Dukes chose Clemson over East Carolina, South Carolina, and Syracuse. He is also a college level basketball prospect and several schools have offered him a shot to play both sports. However, Clemson did not and he has elected to just focus on football moving forward.
If I had to describe Dukes in just two words it would be, James Davis. Dukes has a very similar upright, long strider-style to the former Tiger rusher. Dukes is noticeably smaller than Davis though, so he makes up for it with vision and quickness. The level of competition he is playing against is not great. That’s not his fault and I hate to hold that against him, but it is what it is. I know somebody’s going to ask this, so I’ll go ahead and say that I think the other RB commit for 2019, Chez Mellusi, has Dukes outclassed across the board as far as athleticism goes.
Dukes’ top end speed and acceleration are good, but not great. He has enough speed to take it to the house on a breakaway as evidenced by his production in HS (2,000 yard rusher). I don’t believe he has enough speed and acceleration to beat the angles of college LBs and S at this time. With his lateral skills, he could be a dancer/juker in the backfield, but he’s not and you like to see that already out of his system before college.
As a runner, his best attribute is that he is nimble and slippery due to excellent balance. This allows him to avoid tacklers in traffic and to turn the corner on a dime on outside runs. To go with that, he has good vision and a one-cut mentality. His jukes are sudden and at full speed to where he doesn’t have to break down to run past a defender. When he needs to, Dukes also has a nice lateral jump cut that he uses to get to the outside.
If his balance translates to the next level, I think we have something here. If you remember Mike Bellamy and that TD run against VT early in the season, this is how he can be effective. He needs to find the hole, accelerate to full speed, and make that one step juke of the safety. He does this time and time again on the HS level, so this is his identity and it needs to work in college or he’ll have to come back with a new mousetrap. Barring a speed increase, that new mousetrap is going to be instincts, vision, and physicality on the college level. I think he is certainly a guy that should consider bulking up like Choice and Feaster did.
There are no clips of him blocking or running routes. He does make a couple INTs from the CB position, but those catches were wounded ducks. He also holds the ball away from his body, so he’ll have to fix that or ball security could be an issue.
I like Dukes, but I’m worried that he is going to get lost on the depth chart at Clemson. Still, it’s great for us to have the right of first refusal. The most injury-prone position on the field is RB, so with ETN probably leaving after next season, it’s possible that Dukes could be in a 3-man rotation by his 2nd year in the program. I do think the recruiting services have this right as a high 3-star recruit. If his style of running translates, he’s not that much different than Bellamy and Bellamy was a 5-star.