Coach Speak: Bruce is 'special'

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What better way to find out if a high-school prospect has the ability to play at Tennessee than a former Tennessee Volunteer turned head football coach?

To see if Jocquez Bruce truly has what it takes to compete on the Southeastern Conference level, InsideTennessee sought out former Tennessee defensive back and current South-Doyle (Tenn.) High School head coach Clark Duncan.

"Oh man, he's special," Duncan said of his do-it-all junior athlete. "He can go in a second. It looks sometimes like he's shot out of a cannon. And, he's got such great vision and determination. It's just really special to watch him."

Duncan, who signed with the Vols in 1976 after a standout career at Union County High School in Erwin, Tenn., passed on an opportunity to try out for the USFL to coach at Fulton High in Knoxville before becoming the head coach at Powell High for nearly two decades.

After trying to step away from the gridiron in a move to South-Doyle as an administrator, his love drove him back to the gridiron and to teach players like Bruce.

Bruce is a Class of 2015 prospect that holds down a bevy of duties for the Cherokees from cornerback to returner to running back to quarterback. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder's amaranthine passion for South-Doyle and to be the best drive him when it's time to put on the blue collar.

"He is the hardest working individual that I've ever coached over my 32 years," Duncan said. "He comes every day, and he busts his tail every day. That's why he's in shape. He runs, and we have a lot of guys who do that. He's full tilt every snap in practice."

Bruce took an unofficial visit to Rocky Top to see the Orange & White play Austin Peay on Aug. 31, Western Kentucky on Sept. 7 and again to face Georgia at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 5.

If Bruce does get the scholarship offer that allows him to stay in Knoxville for his college career, finding a position for him figures to be a treat for coach Butch Jones & Co.

"I think 15 pounds and he's a tailback," Duncan said. "If not, corner, safety, athlete. His build is the same as mine when I was his age, and I ended up at 190 going to UT. So, it's possible for him to do that. He just has to get a great routine going and put the weight on. If he can do that…"

Bruce, whose primary recruiters from Tennessee are offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and running backs coach Robert Gillespie, could see himself catching the ball on Rocky Top if it's not handed to him.

"He can (play slot receiver). He can play anywhere. He can catch the football; he's a great receiver. He's going to be highly recruited just because of the fact that he has the ability to play multiple positions," said Duncan, who was a defensive back on The Hill, lettering 1977-78, 80.

In the first round of the 2013 TSSAA Class 5A state playoffs, South-Doyle blew out host Tennessee High 41-14 behind 224 yards of offense and five touchdowns from Bruce.

It was the Cherokees' first playoff victory since 1992.

South-Doyle (7-5) lost in the next round to Anderson County 32-27. However, Bruce did all he could to extend his team's season, galloping for 280 yards on 28 attempts with three touchdowns.

To see highlights of Bruce in action during the 2013 season for South-Doyle, CLICK HERE.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the Scout team July 2011.
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