Marion Dukes put on over 15 pounds before stepping foot on campus last summer and was one of the early surprises of fall practice. After spending a year backing up Greg Walker, is he finally ready to lockdown the starting right tackle position?
Dukes was the #2 lineman in the state according to the Charlotte Observer, and a first team AP All-State member as a senior at Pickens. He was also ranked as the #8 player in South Carolina by TheInsiders.com.
Dukes was one of two offensive linemen (Brandon Pilgrim) to see playing time as a true freshman last season, backing up senior Greg Walker at right tackle. In 2004, he's slated to start at that same position.
Dukes put on over 15 pounds before stepping foot on campus last summer and was one of the early surprises of fall practice. He ended up avoiding a redshirt and served as a quality back up to 5th year senior Greg Walker at right tackle throughout the 2003 season.
Dukes currently sits ahead of Tim DeBeer and Cole Downer on the depth chart, even though DeBeer started the Orange & White game. His overall development this spring was hindered when he had to miss a week of practice due to a death in the family, but much is expected out of the rising sophomore entering the start of fall practice.
Keep in mind that Dukes could be challenged by incoming freshman Cory Lambert at some point during the 2004 season. Lambert, who stands in at 6-feet-7 inches tall and 300 pounds, will challenge for playing time early in his career.
The Clemson coaching staff was vocal on the performance of their offensive tackles this spring. "He's still got a ways to go," Tommy Bowden said of Dukes. "He's still got some work to do, and he's still unpolished."
Tackle is one of the biggest concerns for this team entering fall practice and rightfully so. The Orange & White game saw the Clemson defense harassing Charlie Whitehurst all afternoon long, and most of that pressure came from the ends. Dukes is adjusting to a new position coach in Brad Scott, but he has the size, he has the talent, and most importantly, he has the experience, to become a more productive player than his predecessor.