Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #61 Jaron Dukes

Jaron Dukes
Name: Jaron Dukes
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 204 lbs.
High school: Columbus (OH) Marion Franklin
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #83
Last year: I ranked Dukes #81 and said he would be a backup wide receiver. He did not see game action.

Last season Michigan did not get great production from its wide receivers, but Dukes still did not manage to find his way onto the field. He is not particularly big or fast or athletic. But he has put on approximately seven pounds since he arrived on campus, and he is now approaching an appropriate weight for someone of his height. Additionally, he was targeted several times in the spring game, and he even notched the contest's only touchdown on a fade pattern from Shane Morris (over the head of 5'7" utility man Dennis Norfleet, who was unfairly deployed at cornerback after barely practicing there). Aside from abusing Norfleet in the spring game, I have yet to be convinced that Dukes can be an effective target - but his utilization in the spring game is more than Brady Hoke ever did with him. Dukes might be one of those guys who benefits from a coaching change. I doubt he'll start, but he could sub in when guys get winded or when the game gets out of hand.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver

23 comments:

  1. This is really depressing. Michigan has a lot of people in this range of the roster that seem to be no better than what teams like Purdue or Indiana have on their roster.

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    1. This guy is different. He torched cam burrows for like 6 catches once several years ago.

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    2. That is going back a ways though. Heard two springs ago that Nussmeier was shocked by the lack of talent at WR. Heard similar rumblings this year, and that Harbaugh was scouring the country for a WR grad transfer. I assume that he did not find anything. Harbaugh needs that stud split end for his offense, but it looks like he'll have to recruit his own.

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    3. @ Anonymous 7:39 a.m.

      I think if I was doing a countdown for just about any team in the country, there would be question marks still around #60. It's not like Alabama and Ohio State are trotting out 60 superstars.

      @ Anonymous 8:08 a.m.

      Almost every recruit had a big game in high school, even against good players/teams. What Dukes did in 2012 against Cam Burrows is pretty irrelevant now.

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    4. I was joking about the high school game against Burrows. There was little to like about this kid other than his height. It seemed the lone positive was one game against a team Burrows happened to play for.

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  2. I think you are fooling yourself if you expect Michigan's 3rd/4th stringers to be world beaters compared to guys on the roster of Purdue/Indiana/Illinois. Given time it would be great if we can get there, but the fact of the matter is most teams aren't deep enough to have 3rd string WR's or OL that would be starters on a Purdue-type team.

    What you need to be successful is a more talented pool of top 20 (or so) players than the opposing team. If Michigan's top 20 players are significantly better than Purdue's or Indiana's top 20 players than we'll win 90% or more of the time. To be a GREAT team over time I would agree with you that the talent of our depth needs to improve, but even great teams don't always have great backup guys.

    For comparison, go back to the 2006 team and you'll see their #6 WR was...Doug Dutch? Maybe LaTerryal Savoy? 2002's team had....Calvin Bell? Tyrece Butler? Michigan's current problem isn't their depth, but the lack of top-flight talent at the skill positions. We've got no Edwards or Manningham to make us overlook the 3rd string guys.

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    1. Agreed. A team have major success with a lot of "role-players" on the roster if they have studs in the right spots. And a good QB alone can open up all sorts of possibilities. I am real interested to see what happens when JH finally gets a decent passer in place (Rudock should be a big jump). Some WR's may blossom out of nowhere.

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    2. With improved QB play I'm hoping we start to see some dividends come from the 2014 WR class (Ways, Canteen, Harris). Obviously it seems Harris is perpetually injured and I'll admit to writing him off for now until I see him play, but those three seem to be the best athletes of the bunch at WR. If they've developed a decent ability to run routes I'm hoping we see one of them put up solid numbers this year to become our "out of nowhere" guy.

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    3. I agree with the OP here. There are lots of mediocre talents who are constantly buried on the depth chart. They filter through and a lot of people don't remember them 5 or 10 years down the road. The elite guys are the ones who typically make a splash early, pass up the mediocre guys, and go out with a bang. You always have to have "role players" or "practice squad players" to back those guys up.

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    4. Put me into the 'fooling myself' camp. I think guys like Kugler and Dawson are starters at Purdue, just like Kyle Bosch is going to be a starter at WVU, just like Thomas Rawls started at CMU and Mike Cox at UMass and Josh Furman at Oklahoma State and Ryan Mundy at WVU. Maybe that's not 'world beaters' but its good solid players that Michigan has all over it's 2-deep.

      I'm not saying EVERY guy on the depth chart is going to be a starter elsewhere but Michigan typically gets recruits that those programs can barely get a sniff of. Ondre Pipkins absolutely can play for a Purdue-level program. If he was a 5th year transfer instead of a 4th year he'd show that.

      We can't win 90% more of the time because even going undefeated wouldn't be enough to meet that number.

      Now, I certainly agree that our 6th string WR/LB isn't going to be an elite player every year, but it can/should be a young player with some promise (a la Canteen or Cole at WR). Sure there are Tyrece Butlers -- there are also Tom Bradys and Braylon Edwards' who should be filling out the bottom of the depth chart as underclassmen. This happens when you win. When you lose, DeShawn Hand goes elsewhere and instead of Taco Charlton being a red-shirt freshman who got a handful of snaps in garbage time he becomes a sophomore rotation player and Shane goddam Morris starts a game because your coaching staff is completely inept not only at player development and recruiting strategy but talent evaluation and common sense.

      ...

      Sorry to get ranty, and I normally fully appreciate the cold-eyed rational take such as the OP tried to make here. What I disagree with is the idea that it is not something Michigan fans should hope or expect to be the case. The simple fact is that the coaching here has been flat out BAD going back to the latter part of the Carr era. We RELIED on elite talent just to get by under Carr and then it's been s&/^$how since.

      Not every recruit is going to be a good player but Michigan should ALWAYS have backups that Purdue would immediately throw into the starting lineup at more position groups than it doesn't.

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    5. Still can't believe they made that QB swap against Minnesota. Gardner destroyed Minnesota the year before and was good against them the year before that. If any game might've turned it around for him, it would've been that one--at home against an opponent he'd had success against. So of course they sit him--and he leads a TD drive as soon as he finally comes in.

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    6. I thought the same thing. Its crazy because Gardner had a ton of success against Minnesota, so what does Hoke decide to do, sit him out against a team that he had a large amount of success.

      Wewin with Gardner starting that game imo.

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    7. That's why Hoke's a moron. He knows nothing about offense and told his OC to change the QB because of pressure. What a moron.

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  3. I hated the Dukes recruitment and haven't seen anything to indicate I was wrong. Hoke recruited tall slow WR and the arguments made in their defense were laughable ("he'll catch jump balls!", "he outran a HS CB!").

    Some of the same stuff is going on right now with Harbaugh's recruiting ("he saw the kid in person", "he's from a small school"), but at least Harbaugh has earned his respect/our patience.

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    1. The other difference with Harbaugh is he isn't as beholden to particular player types. Hoke was never going to find a Jeremy Gallon because he refused to sign WRs that size. Harbaugh has taken big and not-so-big backs, a pro-style QB, a dual-threat QB, etc.

      Also, he's pretty clearly playing the long game by taking recruits from recruiting-rich places.

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    2. I agree that Harbaugh is more flexible in what he is looking for an less inclined to typecast -- but he has his preferences too. I think all the guys he's taken have been pretty physical. Unlike Hoke, he doesn't care as much about height (because duh), but he wants powerful backs and has little to no interest in the Norfleet types.

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  4. In case it wasn't obvious from my above comment - Dukes is ranked too high. Entering his 3rd year and he's been passed by a lot of people at a position that seems headed for further marginalization in this offense. Since he's not a significant special teams contributor, I don't see great value in him and can't imagine a scenario where he'd be missed.

    If/when Michigan goes 4-wide I'd expect to see walk-ons like Dever, RBs, TEs, H-backs in there before we see Dukes.

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    1. ...and much of that is why he's ranked #61. If you take a full team of 22 multiplied three times, he's near the bottom of that third team.

      Regardless, Michigan targeted him several times in the spring game. I don't expect him to be a huge contributor (thus the ranking), but there are guys who didn't even play or got just one or two snaps in the spring game. So I think the coaches see a little something in Dukes, even if it just as a guy who can run a fade against a tiny cornerback.

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    2. I appreciate that players ranked in the 60s aren't likely to be impact players, but there's a few guys who have already been listed that either have the upside to start (e.g., Higdon), would play a major role if an injury occurs (e.g., Allen) or are talented backups who could feasibly break through to a bigger role under the new staff (e.g., Shallman). I think Dukes is well a very large group of WR options, most of them are younger than he is, and he isn't going to help even on special teams.

      A lot of backups play in the spring game that won't ever see the light of day. It's a time for experimentation and evaluation, not necessarily indicative of what we'll see in the fall.

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    3. You keep saying that Higdon could start. He can start in the same way that any guy on the roster can start, including Nolan Ulizio, Keith Washington, etc. Higdon has numerous guys ahead of him, all of whom have significant experience. You may point to Mike Hart in 2004, but Jerome Jackson had 29 carries going into that season and David Underwood had 119. Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith are more experienced than the Jackson/Underwood combo, and Drake Johnson/Ty Isaac are more experienced than Jackson. Higdon's not going to start unless he does something that is basically unprecedented at Michigan, and I'm not willing to bet that a 3-star former Iowa commit is going to do something unprecedented at Michigan.

      Shallman falls under the same umbrella as Dukes. I don't know why you mention a difference there. He's a guy who could benefit from a new scheme, but neither one is a great athlete just waiting for someone to see his awesome athleticism and put him on the field. The difference is that Dukes plays a position that has 2-5 players on the field at basically all times, and Shallman is fairly low on the totem pole at a position that plays just 1 guy.

      I'm not in love with Dukes, either. But the reality is that Harbaugh might pull something out of him that Hoke didn't. I didn't see Michigan throwing a bunch of fades to Da'Mario Jones, Maurice Ways, etc. in the spring game. I think those guys are more talented, but maybe they just don't mesh with what Harbaugh wants as much as Dukes.

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  5. I kinda get what the poster at the top of the comments is talking about. It's not that U-M should be 60-deep in stars; presumably everyone understands that. It's the nature of the players at this end of the board.

    Ideally, they're FR, redshirt FR, guys who've been hurt or guys whose path to playing time has been blocked. U-M, conversely, has a lot of 3rd- and 4th-year guys who've been almost invisible despite how disappointing the team has been. I count 10-12 on each side of the ball. One of the most unsettling things about this team is how these players have hardly even been tried, since it suggests they're miles away from contributing.

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    1. Ohio State's fourth-leading wide receiver last year was a senior, Evan Spencer. The fifth wide receiver was a redshirt junior, Jeff Greene. They seem to have done okay.

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    2. OSU doesn't red-shirt unless they have to. They don't try to red-shirt their 4th best WR if he's a freshman or bother bemoaning the 'burned red-shirt' because they know it means they can recruit another kid in the future who might be better.

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