Some guys just make it look easy. Smooth. Effortless. Fluid. Natural. These are all descriptors you commonly hear thrown about describing those stellar athletic marvels that seem to effortlessly do things that we all know are extremely difficult. I try my best to stray away from lazy scouting. As Deadspin noted, there's a high correlation between certain terms and skin colors. But I'm also wary of I perceive to be marginalizing the effort of natural athletes. LeBron James, if he's victim of anything, often falls into this bucket. Since he's been 16 people have gushed of his natural talents and skills and they often eschew the fact, that, you know, he had to work awfully hard to do the things he's done. In a way, it's become an almost backhanded compliment. "Well he's just playing on natural ability." Well sure, but he also works his ass off.
So true do I see Malachi Dupre, a player you will routinely described as "fluid" and "natural" and "looking the part" even by our own writers. Don't take me wrong, I don't think cdub or anyone else is attempting to slight Dupre describing him this way. It's all high praise, but I think Malachi Dupre is a special player and not just because he's athletic gifted. He's illustrated an advanced work ethic for a young prospect. Don't be surprised if he winds up being the best player in this entire signing class.
Dupre prepped at the famed program of John Curtis HS in River Ridge, LA. 2014 proved a banner year for the WR position in Louisiana. Along with Dupre were five stars Speedy Noil and JUCO stud Dhaquille Williams. Not to mention LSU signees Trey Quinn and D.J. Chark. The competition for Dupre and Noil's services were highly contested. LSU seemed in the driver's seat for both. When Noil opted to head West to College Station, it put LSU in a spot of absolutely needing to land Malachi Dupre to re-stock a WR depth chart full of unproven talents. Dupre took his time with the process, tweeting out updates of each visit, praising FSU and others, striking fear into the hearts of LSU recruitniks. Still, insiders insisted Dupre was a virtual lock to pick LSU on Signing Day.
Dupre's final official visit was out to Los Angeles to see UCLA. Quite hilariously, you may remember, Bruins Nation went into a hub bub about the SEC's, specifically LSU's, devious recruiting tactics in "Flightgate". I'll touch more on this later, but the visit to UCLA wasn't just a cursory trip for Dupre. His friend and Curtis teammate Kenny Young was also along, and many thought the appeal of playing with Brett Hundley in a flashy town like LA with a friend may be tough to pass up. Young did wind up picking UCLA. Dupre, as we know, did not.
Ignoring the dubious reporting by Bruins Nation, and their failure to ever so much as post any type of an update to the story, it's been quite humorous to find out post festum that it was indeed Dupre himself who arranged for Cam Cameron to be seated next to him. Even if this is a b.s. line and LSU did make the arrangements, it's a pretty clever recruiting tactic and, frankly, you don't win in recruiting for upholding a Gandhian moral code. They are still mad about this over at Bruins Nation, by the way.
On National Signing Day, the ever dapper Dupre picked LSU, ending the suspense. Judging by his comments since that day, Dupre seemed to just be enjoying the recruiting process. LSU was going to be the choice all along. He's routinely cited his relationship with Cam Cameron as the main factor in his recruitment:
If coach Cam wasn’t at LSU then I can honestly say I don’t know if I would be going there. What he did with the offense and with the quarterback play in just one year, and also with the receivers, it showed how amazing he was. The whole offense at practice was intriguing to me, and I knew he could get me where I wanted to go.
Yet, Dupre isn't resting on his laurels now that he's inked with LSU. He's devoted his Spring and Summer and weight training, adding 7-10 pounds of muscle, which will put him around 6'3", 195 pounds when he steps on campus. He spent some time working with fellow freshman Brandon Harris, which produced this:
But he didn't stop there. Constantly working to improve his game, Dupre got together with current Saints DB Keenan Lewis to learn some tips and tricks.
Witnessed quite a display of athleticism today: #LSU FR @MalachiDupre snagged abt 7 fastballs in a row 1-handed--while shielded by a DB.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) May 28, 2014
LSU freshman QB Brandon Harris working on Coast w/QB guru George Whitfield. Malachi Dupre working with WR's . Both getting rave reviews.— Michael Detillier (@MikeDetillier) May 27, 2014
I have referred to former John Curtis/LSU freshman WR. Malachi Dupre as a young A.J. Green-Bengals. Getting those same comparisons in SD.— Michael Detillier (@MikeDetillier) May 27, 2014
One of the most gifted young WRs I've ever seen, Malachai Dupree, has been dazzlingly hard-working here in#DimeCity pic.twitter.com/8dvnpOf27A— George Whitfield Jr. (@georgewhitfield) May 29, 2014
So that's some pretty high praise. Oh yeah, he even took some time to trash talks some Alabama DBs. I think this kid will fit in around here just fine.
Dupre ranks as a composite 5-star talent in 247 with a rating of .9915. Nationally he ranks 17th overall and the number two receiver, behind Speedy Noil.
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.
100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career.
97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who displays pro-potential.
89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country.
79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.
Tale of the Tape
Weight: 195 pounds
40: 4.58 seconds
Short Shuttle: 4.1 seconds
Vertical Leap: 42.5"
Obviously the vertical leap is impressive. Chi can fly. But that 4.1 shuttle is also remarkable for a bigger guy. That's a good sign when it comes to that short area explosion required for top end route running. He also won the 3A State Championship in high jump, long jump and triple jump. Athletically, there's nothing of concern here, and he will just get bigger, stronger and faster. Check out Wescott Eberts' scouting report here.
Playing at John Curtis didn't allow Dupre to exhibit the full range of his talents. The heavily run-based offense didn't often turn to an aerial approach, but when they looked to throw the ball downfield, Dupre was the clear choice. Let's take to the tape to see exactly what Dupre brings to the table.
Strengths: Size/Length, Leaping Ability, Body Control, Hands, Explosiveness
Weaknesses: Experience, Route Running (maybe), Working the Middle
Size/Length: Standing at nearly 6'3" Dupre fits the big-WR mold we've experienced success with in the past. Beyond pure height, he's got long arms which allow him to extend and pluck the ball out of the sky, and create separation from defenders.
Leaping Ability: The 42.5 inch vertical speaks for itself, but don't think Dupre is just a workout warrior whose traits don't translate onto the field. Check out the first catch on the reel at :15 in clip one. This catch could displays his leaping, hands, body control and explosiveness all in one. It's truly remarkable. 1:03 on clip two is another example of putting that jump into game action.
Body Control: Check 1:10 on clip one and how easily he adjusts to the ball in flight to make the catch. At 3:00 on clip one watch he tracks the ball over his shoulder and it falls right into place, where he secures and tucks it away for six. At :15 in clip two, you again see how naturally he turns to adjust to the flight of the ball and makes a difficult catch look easy.
Hands: Check out the catch starting at 2:38 on clip one. Absolutely love the way he extends with his arms and catches the ball away from his body. Check 6:55 on clip one as well. Great example of catching with the hands, even when absorbing contact.
Explosiveness: At :42 on clip one the QB hits him in stride and Dupre explodes past the defender and is able to take the ball the distance. He's not a pure burner, but he's got more than enough speed to generate big plays. He's a long strider, so once he hits full gait it's off to the races. At 2:22 on clip one he takes a janky KO, gets the sideline and returns it for a TD. 7:12 on clip one is another crazy example of his explosion on a KR.
Experience: Really, every other weakness of Chi is linked to this. By virtue of the offense he played in, he wasn't running the full route tree, nor being forced to due much more than run deep or catch short screens. How much of a hurdle will this be to his development? I'm inclined to not think much considering how he's already putting in time training with NFL DBs. He also talks about the importance of developing the mental aspects of his game in this interview. There will be some adjustment, as there is for any incoming freshman, but he's ahead of the curve.
Route Running: Again, this is less about his ability to do so than his experience in it. Chi actually looks very fluid in his routes, and considering the importance he places on developing his mental game, it wouldn't surprise me if this came much more naturally to him than many assume.
Working the Middle: Just another thing he hasn't done much. How will he handle running across the middle? Will he take a pop and shake it off and still be fearless?
Chi is hardly a forgotten man in the 2014 signing class, but up against Fournette nearly everyone pales in comparison considering the hype. I think I like Chi as much, if not more, than Fournette. This guy is A.J. Green good. To me, there's not a ton of holes to point to in his game. When measuring out receivers not named Calvin Johnson, Dupre is damn near the prototype. Size, length, leaping ability, speed and the ability to snag the ball with his hands. He's the total package.
There's a swagger about him too. Dupre is confident enough to trash talk Bama DBs and much like Fournette, it's not an arrogance thing so much as a guy that believes in himself. His work ethic backs it up. He shows advanced maturity for a young prospect, working with Lewis, as well as trekking out to San Diego to get more work in. Les Miles commented in the Spring he wished Chi had been legally allowed to practice. Chi spent time working with Brandon Harris as well. By all indications, this guy is going to show up ready to play from day one. In fact, I won't be surprised at all if he finishes the season as our leading WR. I'm guessing by Wisconsin he's starting opposite Dural.
Let's talk more about the Harris-Dupre connection. Harris is a prospect who throws an excellent deep ball, so as an LSU fan it's easy to imagine that becoming a big time recurring theme the next few seasons. Dupre is one of the best deep ball receivers we've recruited in some time. He's very much of the mold of guys that you can simply throw it up and let them make a play. He does a great job of using his size and leaping ability to beat DBs, plucking the ball out of the air with his hands and often positioning his body just right to make the snag. There's a lot to look forward to here.
High End: Top 10 draft pick, All-American good.
Low End: Multi-year starter with slightly better production but a similar career to Rueben Randle.
Realistic: Yeah, my low end is him turning into a first-team All-SEC player. I think that highly of him. This guy will step onto campus as the most talented receiver on the roster. In Harris he's got a QB who can and will get him the ball down field. He's got exceptional work ethic, high character and superb athletic talent. This guy is the real deal. Expect huge, huge things.