Clemson added a talented piece to its 2019 recruiting class on Saturday when Charleston (S.C.) First Baptist Church School running back Mikey Dukes pledged to the Tigers.
Dukes (5-11, 190) announced his commitment to Dabo Swinney’s program during a ceremony at First Baptist Gym, choosing Clemson over Syracuse as well as offers from South Carolina, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Wake Forest, among others.
The Clemson Insider was on hand for Dukes’ announcement and caught up with the standout in-state back afterward.
His commitment comes just a couple of weekends after he received an offer from Clemson while on an official visit to campus.
“It was like a dream come true,” Dukes said, “just knowing that was the place I wanted to be this whole time throughout the whole process.”
As Dukes made his commitment speech and thanked his parents for always being there for him, his father sat beside him at the table and shed a few tears of joy.
“It was very emotional for them I know, especially when I started talking about them, just to see their son going from a little boy all the way up to making a grown-man decision like I did just now,” Dukes said. “It’s heartwarming for them.”
Dukes has been on Clemson’s radar for quite a while and built a strong bond with co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, a fellow Lowcountry native. Their relationship played an important role in his decision.
“It’s very different,” Dukes said of the relationship. “Being that he’s from down here, I felt a whole different connection with him. Also, he stayed consistent with me throughout the whole process, from ever since I went up there as an eighth-grader at camp to recruiting wise … He just stayed with me. Some colleges left and they tried to come back at the end, but he was just telling me to stay patient with the process, and I did and now I’m a Tiger.”
Dukes said his affinity for Clemson dates to his middle school days when he participated in the Swinney Camp as an eighth-grader.
“When I went to the camp eighth-grade year, I fell in love with Coach Swinney,” he said. “I was in the eighth grade with the middle schoolers, and he moved me up with the big boys — juniors and 12th graders — and that just meant something to me. He saw something that I didn’t see in myself, and after that happened I just motivated myself, pushed myself to my hardest limits, and it paid off.”
Dukes took an official visit to Syracuse in December, then officially visited Clemson the weekend of Jan. 18.
Swinney and Elliott traveled to visit with Dukes on Friday ahead of his announcement.
“It was great, man,” Dukes said of being paid a visit by the coaches. “Just seeing a national championship coach like himself that wants me in their program and wants me to be an effective part of their offense is just wonderful.”
For his career at First Baptist, Dukes amassed 8,762 rushing yards and 117 touchdowns on 685 attempts, an average of 12.8 yards per rush. He also recorded 743 yards receiving and nine scores on 43 receptions.
A two-sport athlete, Dukes is a star on the basketball court as well. As of Feb. 2, he had tallied 1,591 points, 504 assists, 539 rebounds and 303 steals in his career.
Dukes becomes the 28th member of Clemson’s 2019 recruiting class and second commitment from a running back, joining four-star Chez Mellusi of Naples, Fla.
Clemson’s 2019 class now ranks No. 8 nationally according to Rivals.
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