IN FOCUS: RB Curtis Dukes

See how the Penn State freshman tailback has progressed during the preseason in our exclusive In Focus series.

THE PLAYER

Curtis Dukes, RB (6-foot-1, 238 pounds)

The "beast," as he's been described by observers, is "really built" and has "a tremendous frame." As one observer explained, "This kid is really put together. He's bigger than most of our 'backers. Plus he can haul."

Dukes had an impressive Lift For Life for a true freshman and has really turned heads in the weight room sessions with observers saying he has shown impressive strength and power with his lifts.

However, his size isn't the only trait of Dukes' that is opening eyes in drills. With a high 4.4-second 40-yard dash, Dukes has shown he can move quickly. After the freshmen ran their initial 40s in the summer, one observer said, "This guy is like what, 20 pounds heavier than [safety Gerald] Hodges, and can come pretty damn close to his speed. He excites me the most. He's like a Mack Truck with a 911 Turbo under the hood."

THE ASSESSMENT

Size: Dukes is massive, tipping the scales at nearly 240 pounds. To put that in perspective Dukes is a bit heavier than Sean Lee and Josh Hull. "He's big, but he carries it well — he's really put together and has a good frame."

Strength: Dukes has impressed in his early conditioning, showing "great power," particularly with his upper body. He also "tore through" the annual Lift For Life event, which is rare for a true freshman, most of which get a rude awakening from the event. The coaches have him focused on building his leg strength to help his running ability and "pick up those extra yards."

Speed: Said to be "shockingly quick" for his size, Dukes has good footwork and gets off the line well. He's working on his directional shifts, but overall has a "great size-speed combo." With his massive size, Dukes would traditionally get a look at fullback, but given his speed the staff seems to like his potential at tailback.

Vision: This is probably that area he is working the most on this preseason. "He's getting down the blocking reads and when to hit a hole -- he has down how to hit a hole pretty well."

Impact: Given that Evan Royster, Stephfon Green and Brandon Beachum are on the three-deep, chances are Dukes will redshirt, although there has been discussion on whether he could play special teams. But the sentiment is that, unless there is a major injury, he should redshirt this year.

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