Whenever Will Muschamp lands a commitment, the South Carolina coach drops a #SpursUp on Twitter. Come to SEC Country for the latest news, notes and observations in South Carolina recruiting. For previous editions of SpursUp Surveillance, check out the link.
A local pull
Dakereon Joyner might need to figure out how to be a better recruiter now that he’s enrolled at South Carolina, because the freshman quarterback has already struck out once on Mikey Dukes.
To be fair, the cards were stacked against Joyner, who attended Fort Dorchester High School in North Charleston, S.C. Dukes was firm with his decision to continue as a student at First Baptist School in Charleston, even though he’s zoned to attend Fort Dorchester.
But that hasn’t kept Joyner from trying to convince the 2019 running back to join him at South Carolina.
“I love him, but I’m a loyal dude,” Dukes said. “If I commit to a school or if I’m already at a school, I’m not changing.”
His varsity career began as an eighth-grader, which was First Baptist’s first season of 11-man football. The Hurricanes went 0-10 during that first season under coach Johnny Waters.
First Baptist has since gone on to win the last two South Carolina Independent School Association AA state championships. Dukes, of course, has had plenty to do with that success. As a junior last season, he rushed for 1,465 yards and 27 touchdowns.
“On the field, his feet, his hands and his vision, he’s got all of it,” Waters said. “I’ve been doing this awhile and I ain’t had one like him yet. I can say that in front of him. He’s not that kind of kid.”
Waters had plenty more good things to say about Dukes, whose offer list includes Arkansas, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
“I think the main thing is he’s coachable. You get a lot of guys that are really good and they think they know it all; they’re not coachable,” Waters said. “He’s a kid, to be honest with you, if I told him to try to run through that wall, he’s going to try it.”
And Joyner will continue to recruit Dukes to join his team. Sophomore wide receiver OrTre Smith, who’s also from the Charleston area, has made his recruiting pitch, too.
“They’re always trying to tell me to come up to Carolina,” Dukes said. “They really want me to come.”
The South Carolina recruiting effort
Dukes, who’s ranked by the 247Sports composite as the No. 77 running back in the Class of 2019, landed his Gamecocks offer in June.
Running backs coach Bobby Bentley has already established a “great” relationship with Dukes, whose South Carolina area recruiter is tight ends coach Pat Washington.
The Gamecocks can expect to see him again in March for junior day.
“Muschamp is a great coach. Their program is — coach Bentley’s been telling me that they’re in a rebuilding stage, but this year, I think they’re going to be good,” Dukes said. “South Carolina’s atmosphere is always great. Every time I go up there, they welcome me like I’m already one of them, like I’m already family, so that’s good. I look at that a lot.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt South Carolina’s chances that Dukes’ father is a fan, but his parents won’t try to push him one direction or another.
“They just want what’s best for me,” Dukes said. “They just tell me to pray on it and let God lead me in the right direction and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Some other options
Georgia, Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Georgia State hosted Dukes for games this past season. He also took in a pair of games at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Arkansas is among the more recent suitors to toss its hat into the ring. Dukes (5-10, 191) spoke on the phone with coach Chad Morris on Wednesday night and received an invite to the Razorbacks spring game.
Notre Dame running backs coach Autry Denson visited recently and Dukes is looking to return the favor, though the Irish have yet to make an offer.
Dukes, also a standout point guard on the hardwood, is drawing interest to play basketball from North Carolina State and Oklahoma State. A coach from George Mason watched him play on Tuesday night.
“My first love was basketball. I played basketball before I played football. Once I came here with coach Waters, football just started growing on me,” Dukes said.
Though Dukes isn’t settled on which sport he’ll play at the next level, it would appear that his brightest future is on the gridiron, but at this point, there’s only one certainty.
“I don’t want my parents to pay for college,” Dukes said. “I promised them, when I was in fifth or sixth grade, I made a promise that they won’t have to pay for college.”
Looks like he’s going to be able to make good on that one.
When Waters turns on the film, Dukes jumps off the screen, even if he’s not playing.
“If you watch our film, you can see him jumping up and down like a little kid when our freshman is running touchdowns in the second half,” Waters said. “He’s a team guy.”
Plus, Dukes is one of the hardest workers.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve opened the complex for him to work out on his own in the offseason,” Waters said. “He’ll finish up basketball here in the next two weeks or whatever and he’ll be up there working out, doing something on his own or whatever. Then, he’s got a trainer on the side.
“But he’ll put in the work on his own. … When everyone else is at the beach having fun or doing whatever they do, he’s working out.”
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