"There's really not any news about Kentucky football in Georgia. Until they started recruiting me, I didn't know but then I?found out more about them," said Dupree.
Kentucky fans could be finding out more about him — maybe as early as Saturday — if linebacker coach Chuck Smith is right.
Dupree came to UK thinking he would play tight end, but was moved to linebacker to add to UK's depth and take advantage of his athleticism early in preseason practice.
"He is making progress. When he first came over (to defense), of course, he catches everybody's eye because he flies around makes plays and shows great, not good, but great potential," said Smith. "Then he starts to learn the system and what to do and it kind of bogs him down and slows him down.
"He has got a chance to be a great player, but right now he is learning the system and learning what to do. He is just a typical freshman and it is not uncommon. All these freshmen kind of go through this process and the process that is hanging him up right now is knowing the information and then executing the information on the field. I think he is learning it but then he has to execute with what he sees. That is just a typical lack of experience, age, maturity that all of them experience."
However, with starting linebacker Ridge Wilson battling a shoulder injury suffered in last week's win over Mississippi, Dupree could find himself playing a lot more at Vanderbilt Saturday. "He was a little bit behind the rest of them because he did come in as a tight end, but we could see his potential as being a great defensive player. I think he eventually will. I think getting the few snaps he is getting and getting to play on the speciality teams has put him a whole lot further ahead next year when he comes in. I will be surprised if he is not working as a starter," Smith said. "He could easily be one of the four best potentially we have next year and this could be a big chance for him."
The 6-4, 230-pound Dupree was rated as one of the nation's top 50 tight ends following his senior season at Wilkinson County High School in Irwinton, Ga. But he also started on defense. "At the end of camp I?got switched to defense because they told me I could play quicker on defense, so I just went with it," Dupree said. "I am getting time to make plays here and now. I?try to watch Winstson (Guy), Danny (Trevathan) and get the mindset of those players and be like them."
Dupree says he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, one reason the UK coaches initially thought Dupree could provide a needed deep threat at tight end before deciding to move him to defense.
"I came here thinking I?could help at tight end," Dupree said. ""I run and catch the football, but I can also block. I?am pretty much an all-around player. I like to play physical, hard-nose football because that is the way I was brought up. I thought I could stretch defenses."
He spent the summer catching passes from Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith. He worked out with freshman quarterback Bookie Cobbins, too. He says returning tight ends Jordan Aumiller and Nick Melillo tutored him all summer.
"Coach (Randy) Sanders sold me on being part of the offense and doing a lot of versatile things with where I?lined up as a tight end. He told me I could do a lot of things to help the offense out and maybe do it early," Dupree admitted. "I've had some second thoughts (about moving to defense), but the coaches made the decsion and I'm fine with it. You use the same speed, power and quickness at linebacker that you do at tight end.
"But it did surprise me when they moved me. I thought I was going to be more of an offensive player. I just moved over. It will be all right. All the folks at home they still think I should be on offense, but I told them bear with me and it would be all right. I try not to let stuff get me down. I only got one life, so I have to live it to the fullest and I'm enjoying defense." Smith has coached Wesley Woodyard, Micah Johnson, Braxton Kelley, Sam Maxwell, Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy at Kentucky. Smith says Dupree could eventually be regarded the same way those players are.
"There is no question about it. He has great potential, he really does. He is aggressive guy. He runs really well. He is long. He will end up being thick once he gets into the weight room and gets acclimated to that for an offseason. He has a chance to be a great player. Not a good player, but a great player," Smith said.