Weighing His Options

To say the past few years have not gone the way Albert Dukes expected them to would be an understatement. A four-star prospect out of Florida, the Ohio State wideout has seen limited playing time throughout his Buckeye career to this point. Will he still be on the roster next season? BuckeyeSports.com has the answers.

It has been on his mind for the better part of two years now, but Albert Dukes has not yet officially explored the possibility of transferring to another school.

That is not to say that the possibility does not exist for the wide receiver from Belle Glades, Fla., who has endured a rocky time during his four years at Ohio State. Following a junior season that saw him not record a single catch as the Buckeyes advanced to the BCS National Championship Game, rumors have circulated that Dukes is a likely transfer candidate as OSU heads into a long off-season.

But while the thought is there, Dukes has not yet asked the university for permission to look at other schools.

"When I spoke with him he said he spoke with (receivers) coach (Darrell) Hazell (Thursday)," said Sophia Baldwin, Dukes' mother. "He said it wasn't really anything about football. I'm not sure if Coach Hazell thought he was going to bring it up because I'm sure he had probably heard something as well, but he told me on the phone the other day he has not spoken to either one of them about a release yet."

Should Dukes opt to look elsewhere, Baldwin said he would decide to do so sometime in the next two weeks.

At media day prior to the national championship game, the 6-1, 194-pound Dukes admitted that it had been a frustrating season for him, adding that he did not know why he had been passed on the depth chart by freshmen Dane Sanzenbacher and Taurian Washington. But rather than be bitter about the situation, Dukes said he has embraced the role of mentor to OSU's younger wideouts.

"I'm really not sure," he said when asked what has held him back. "I talk to my coaches, they give me feedback, but I'm not really sure. I haven't really been injured at all this year. I felt like I had a pretty good spring, felt like camp was pretty solid."

That sentiment was shared by Baldwin, who said that she has never been given a reason as to why her son has not played more. The same goes for Dukes' father, Ricky Easmon.

A four-prospect out of high school, Dukes was viewed as a big pickup for the Buckeyes. However, a legal situation that forced him to miss winter quarter of his freshman year – a year he spent redshirting – helped derail his growth process both on and off the field.

Since then, he has seen limited action in the past three seasons. Dukes played a career-high eight games during the 2006 season, catching two passes for 11 yards. As a redshirt freshman, Dukes had two grabs for 28 yards in seven games of action. Still, much of his action came on special teams and not at wide receiver.

This year, he played in OSU's first five games but saw action in just one of the final eight games.

"I can say it has been (more frustrating) because those other years, the competition was a little higher," he said. "When Ted (Ginn) and Gonzo (Anthony Gonzalez) were here I felt like I still could be playing, but now that they're gone I definitely thought I would have had a better opportunity than what I had this year. I really thought that this year I would get a better chance at playing."

Should Dukes elect to transfer, he would not have a plethora of options. Set to graduate this summer, he can no longer take advantage of a rule that allowed graduate students to transfer into another program upon completion of their undergraduate degree if their former institution did not have the program they wanted to pursue in graduate school. That rule was changed at the completion of the 2006 season.

In addition, a transfer to a team in the Bowl Subdivision – Division I or Division I-A – would force Dukes to sit out for a season before competing in his final year of eligibility.

Asked for what he would still like to accomplish at OSU, Dukes spoke of his academic future.

"I still will get my degree in sports and leisure studies," he said. "That's my main goal and I have one more year to play football. I've just got to stick it out with that and hope for the best with that."

For Baldwin, the situation has made her view the OSU program differently.

"My other son plays football and so many boys from this area had always said that that next step would be Ohio State because they look up to Dukes," she said. "Then when they come and ask me now, I don't really want to tell the kids anything bad about Ohio State because I love Ohio State but I really don't know what to tell them. It's very difficult."

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