Jaron Dukes, listed as 6'4, 200ish, committed to Michigan last week, missing the grand weekend of commitments by only a few days. Dukes had been considered a heavy lean towards the maize and blue every since receiving his offer on National Signing Day, and was heavily enamored with both the school and staff when he visited earlier this month. It was viewed by many that a commitment was inevitable, and was supposed to come soon. Sure enough, he dropped and became the 12th member of the class of 2013.
Dukes comes from a rather lightly recruited school, historically. Last year, they sent a 3* DT to Pitt, as well as a 3* Athlete to OSU two years prior. Other than those two, any prospects coming from Marion Franklin in the time of modern recruiting services have signed with Kentucky, or a variety of MAC schools. Still, Dukes plays in a heavily enough trafficked league (Trotwood's league, for example), that scouting reliability likely shouldn't be called into question. No, Dukes was simply a late riser, with little to his hype but 1 BCS offer from Illinois and a minute long highlight video. Toledo was his first offer, dating back to the summer, followed by Michigan and finally Illinois. He received intermittent interest from some other schools like OSU and Notre Dame through the process, but no offer ever materialized.
Certainly, that's not to say that I don't approve of this commitment by any means. He's a midwest kid with size-a-plenty in a huge position of need for the 2013 class. This year could see as many as 3 WRs taken, so locking down a lifelong Michigan fan early in the process won't hurt. Coaches have also raved about his work ethic, which should help keep him going if he's relegated to early time on the bench, which I think is a real possibility. When he arrives on campus as a freshman, the starting positions seems likely to be manned by some combination of Gallon/Jackson/Darboh/Chesson/Robinson. While two of those would be seniors, player like Chesson and Darboh would either be redshirt freshmen or sophomores. On top of that, if we were to land Laquon Treadwell, I would be hard pressed not to see him awarded earlier and more significant playing time than Dukes. Dukes may redshirt, unless we don't have a strong enough redzone threat in some combination of Jeremy Jackson/Jake Butt/Amara Darboh/Jehu Chesson. Either way, playing time will likely be infrequent during his first few years on campus, but could see it expand as he grows, both as a football player and as an athlete.
Once more, I should note how my evaluation should be taken with a grain of salt. However, from what I do see, I'm not all too impressed. Certainly, he has size (word is 6'5 may be a bit exaggerated, probably closer to 6'4 or 6'3, and over 200 pounds already) and decent strength, but does not appear to be all too athletic. He isn't a great route runner and he's not explosive, so separation will be hard to find. When he comes into the Big Ten, he's going to have to play against CBs much larger than the ones he played in high school (excluding Cam Burrows), who are much more fundamentally sound, stronger players. He'll have to work on getting off of jams at the line, and finding some other way to bring the ball down than leaping and out-sizing his opponent.
So there you have it, folks. Dukes is a kid that I believe we could have waited a bit longer to offer, but he does secure one spot in a position of need, this year. Right now, I view him as Jeremy Jackson type of player. I'm not really all too excited by his ability, but his ceiling is somewhere comparable to Junior Hemingway's. If he can ever achieve to that standard, I will be satisfied, and I think the rest of the maize and blue nation will, as well.