Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is high on the newest addition to the Tigers’ running back corps, Michel Dukes.
The talented two-sport standout from First Baptist School in Charleston, S.C., signed with Clemson during National Signing Day on Wednesday.
“He’s got a ton of upside,” Swinney said of Dukes. “His best football is in front of him. But the bottom line is he’s got the tools – he can run, he’s a great guy in space, he’s got really good ball skills, he catches the ball and he’s dynamic. He’s incredibly athletic. He’s a multi-sport guy. He has been playing multiple sports forever, and not just playing them but dominating. He’s a great basketball player. He had some basketball offers to go play college basketball.
“He’s a legit athlete.”
Dukes concluded his high school career with 8,762 rushing yards and 117 rushing touchdowns as well as 743 yards receiving and nine touchdown receptions.
As a senior, Dukes carried 188 times for 2,030 yards (10.8 yards per attempt) with 29 touchdowns on the ground. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound playmaker led First Baptist to an 11-2 record and a state runner-up finish in the school’s first season in AAA.
Dukes ran for 335 yards in his penultimate high school game, a win over Porter-Gaud in the SCISA AAA semifinals. He won the Lonnie Robinson Memorial Award as SCISA Player of the Year and shared All-Lowcountry Player of the Year honors.
“He’s really a guy that we’ve tracked for a long time,” Swinney said. “Comes from a small school but well-coached, winning program, and a guy that is dynamic. He can do a lot of things. … He’s a young man that we think really fits what we’re looking for at that position. So, really big to get him into the fold.”
Dukes received a long-awaited offer from Clemson while on campus for an official visit the weekend of Jan. 18. He then committed two weeks later on Feb. 2, choosing the Tigers over offers from Syracuse, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Wake Forest, among others.
Swinney and Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott have had their eyes on Dukes for quite some time, ever since he was an eighth-grader camping at Clemson.
“He’s a guy that we’ve been able to have our hands on multiple times. I think he’s been in camp since the eighth grade,” Swinney said. “He’s a guy that Tony just kept kind of coming back to and coming back to and coming back to, and (Dukes) kind of bet on himself, too, because he had a lot of opportunities to sign in December. Tony wasn’t quite ready in December.
“So, he bet on himself, and he really wanted to be at Clemson – and that matters, too. This was something that has been a dream of his, so it’s really cool to see it all come to fruition.”
Dukes – one of two running back signees in Clemson’s 2019 class, along with Chez Mellusi – will enroll at Clemson this summer.
“We think he’s got a chance to be a heck of a player,” Swinney said. “He’s got a nice body on him for a young guy, and especially a guy that has been a multi-sport guy and hasn’t really been able to train like he’s going to be able to train when he gets here. Ton of potential.”
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