The hunt for a wide receiver in the class of 2014 with the ability to break a game wide open continues for Notre Dame with River Ridge, La. product Malachi Dupre. The consensus four-star prospect is incredibly athletic and would give the Fighting Irish a big-bodied receiver who can stretch the field. As you can imagine, Dupre is on fire in the recruiting world and keeps adding to his already impressive 30 scholarship offers. Pretty much all the big dogs are in the hunt and the Irish will have to contend with Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida State, UCLA, and Clemson for his services.
The good news for Notre Dame fans is Dupre has shown interest in the Irish and is planning to schedule a visit sometime this summer. He hopes to name a top five right before his senior season, but doesn’t plan to announce his final decision until the Under-Armour All-American Game next January. In 2012 he caught 36 passes for 816 yards and 15 touchdowns while helping his team to the class 2A state championship. (Let me do the math for you – that’s a 22.6 yard per catch average, which in football jargon can be described as, ‘pretty darn good’.)
The John Curtis Christian High School star has many different measurements depending where you look, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t at least 6-foot-3. He looks tall and lean on film and plays like he’s 6-foot-7, but I don’t want to get carried away. Some sites have him listed at 6-foot-4 while others at 6-foot-2, so I’m willing to settle somewhere in the middle because quite frankly, his athletic ability only adds to what his height may or may not be.
Dupre weighs somewhere in the range of 180-185 pounds and with his height has the ability to easily gain another 20-25 pounds. As I mentioned earlier he looks lean, not skinny, but could stand to add some good weight so he increases his durability on the next level. If everything plays in his favor, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t, in a couple of years he could strike an imposing figure at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds.
This past weekend Dupre won the Louisiana state championship in the high jump, long jump, and triple jump. I believe that qualifies as evidence to his athletic ability. It’s also well-documented that his vertical jump has been measured at 40 inches, which gives you an idea of his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and how well he out-jumps defenders for the football.
He’s no slouch in the speed department either, as his 40-yard dash is consistently timed in the mid-4.5’s. He’s really just a notch below having elite speed, but there’s nothing he does on the field that makes me believe he needs to be faster. His strides are incredibly long and he easily covers 2.5 to three yards per step without a problem. I was also impressed by his acceleration. Usually the long-legged athletes take a little more time to get moving full speed, but Dupre doesn’t seem to suffer from that ailment. Once he decides it’s time to make use of open space, he’s off like a shot.
He has some elusiveness to him and although he’s obviously his school’s deep threat, they use him in the screen game as well. He can make people miss in tight quarters and can shake himself loose from two or three defenders if need be. I think he’s outgrown any usefulness in the slot, but he’s certainly not a one trick pony who the defense can key as only a deep threat when he’s in the game.
Let’s be honest about Dupre – he can stretch the field and make a defense nervous. When he lines up on the outside and takes off on a go route he takes the corner and safety with him. The most dangerous part of his game is even if the secondary has perfect coverage on him, he’ll still make the catch. His answer to double and triple coverage is simple: “If I don’t outrun you, I’ll leap higher than you and there’s really nothing you can do about stopping me unless you interfere with me.” That’s the type of threat Notre Dame (or any other team for that matter) needs on the field at all times.
He does a great job of catching jump balls and deep balls with his body control. He’s able to adjust himself like a contortionist whether he's in the air or just about to leave his feet. There are very few passes that are thrown is his direction that he’s not able to adjust his body to and catch. He can look over his shoulder while falling backwards or redirect a jump in any direction in order to make the tough grab look easy. He stays on his feet really well after a catch too. Most players will jump for a ball and then fall to the ground, which is a natural reaction. But there are a few instances where he leaps up, makes the catch, and stays on his feet when he lands in order to gain more yards or get in the end zone.
Dupre is an excellent route runner who can do more than just run fades or seams. His deep threat ability sets up perfectly for deep hitches or any other comeback route you can draw up on the chalkboard. His cuts and breaks are clean and his timing is impeccable. One particular thing I notices on his deep hitches is he continues to come back to the ball and create separation from the defender – that’s a veteran move.
I think the potential for this kid is through the roof and we haven’t come close to seeing his best football. He’s incredibly athletic with speed and explosiveness being his strongest suits, but he can still make things happen in space. He has terrific hands and can get open anywhere on the field – not just the red zone. He can go up and get the ball over anyone who covers him and with that, has multiple ways he can beat a defense. I see him coming to South Bend and being used as the widest wide-out and being someone who can battle for playing time right away. If you can combine a player with Dupre’s talent with a running game, opposing defenses will have their hands full trying to contain both.
Size: 85 (good height – needs to pack on some pounds)
Strength: 80 (will come as the pounds do)
Speed: 85 (runs well – good acceleration)
Athletic Skills: 92 (could be the most explosive receiver ND is recruiting)
Technique: 85 (nice routes – solid hands - great timing)
Versatility: 85 (more than just a guy you throw the bomb to)
Upside: 5 (I’ll take him or Trevion Thompson – both are going to be super players)
Overall Grade: 4
90-100 – Elite/Exceptional: Skill set is rare and gives prospect ability to dominate
80-89 – Very Good/Outstanding: Skill set is a significant strength
70-79 – Average: Skill set is solid, not a significant weakness
60-69 – Below Average: Skill set is not a strength for this player and could become a liability
50-59 – Very Poor: Prospect does not possess this trait and it is a definite liability
OVERALL/UPSIDE GRADE KEY
5 – Elite: Player is one of the best players at his position nationally, potentially dominant
4 – Very Good/Outstanding: Player is a potential standout and starter, could also play early
3 – Solid: Player is a potential contributor, could eventually start down the road
2 – Below Average: Player does not possess the talent to be a significant contributor
1 – Poor: Let’s be honest, Notre Dame is not going to bring in anyone with a one!