Dayton features one of the state's top playmakers in senior receiver, running back, safety, punt returner and kick off returner A.J. Dugat. Dugat has been a fixture of the Broncos offense for the past three years playing in a jack-of-all-trades type of role.
Dugat burst onto the scene as a sophomore catching 47 passes for 706 yards and nine touchdowns in addition to playing corner back and returning kicks and punts.
The Houston Cougars commit followed up his all-district sophomore campaign with a junior year that was as productive as any skill player in the state. The then 5-11, 185-pounder caught 72 passes for 1,028 yards and 14 touchdowns, rushed 94 times for 536 times and seven touchdowns and passed for 463 yards and five scores subbing for the injured Cody Green (Nebraska commit).
Dugat has continued his impressive playmaking as a senior entering the playoffs with 70 receptions for 1,139 yards and 34 carries for 258 yards despite playing through a groin injury the last three weeks that have sidelined him for every Dayton practice.
On Saturday night, Dugat proved again why he is one of the top all-around players in the state catching 11 passes for 98 yards and rushing for 41 yards on four carries despite facing constant double teams and bracketed coverage. Throw in a key 71-yard interception return on a fourth down play in the back of the end zone with Livingston in the red zone in the fourth quarter and Dugat again was a difference maker.
Scouting A.J. Dugat
Dayton makes very smart utilization of the strong, powerful and quick playmaker. Dugat lines up in the slot in a trip set for the most part. The Broncos staff moves him around as well and uses him in motion with the goal of creating match-ups for not only Dugat, but reading the defense in reaction to Dugat's motion that often times dictates read plays for quarterback Cody Green in the running game.
This is a playmaker with multiple strengths as a receiver and runner. Dugat is a high 4.5's type and plays that fast in pads. While he has good speed, his game is based on quickness, strength to run through arm tackles, quickness to make lateral cuts and the ability to stick his foot in the ground and make speed cuts.
Saturday night, Dugat caught a square in for 18 yards. It was a play that showed his quickness off the line of scrimmage, his ability to sink his hips and get in and out of a cut quickly and the strengths and body lean to maximize yards after contact.
The majority of the routes run were of the short variety. Swing passes, bubble screens and one tunnel screen. Green over threw him on a corner route in which he had separated out of a hard cut.
Yards after contact is a constant when watching Dugat. Strong in the lower body combined with being a virtual running back after the catch, Dugat maximizes plays using darting, violent cuts to make defenders miss before lowering the pads to finish plays.
Dugat has terrific hands and a good feel for the receiver position. He makes catches with extended arms and soft hands, can high point the ball as he did snatching the interception Saturday night from his safety spot, can adjust to a ball thrown low quickly getting his hands under the ball combined with body control and has the ability to open the shoulder and hips to adjust to ball thrown behind him.
Add the fact that he is catching passes from legit division one quarterback prospect in Cody Green and Dugat's hands, reactions and ability to adjust his body to a throw with zip on it is impressive.
Because of his ability to change direction, quick feet, the ability to make violent cuts in tight spaces and run through arms tackles, Dugat also has the chance to be a successful punt returner at the next level. <>Dugat showed his soft hands on a key fourth down as well. Green threw a bullet on a fourth and six play in Livingston territory. The Lions defense back made an early break on the stop route and looked to have a pick or at least a play on the ball. The defender impaired Dugat's vision, but he still snatched the ball out of the air after it zipped through the arms of the Livingston defender. The ball was thrown high and behind Dugat saving the interception.
Another strength of Dugat is that he loves the game. In talking with a number of his coaches, the senior loves everything about the game - the week of practice preparing, the film room preparing, the weight room, contact, playing through pain, and competing.
With the 39-28 win over Livingston, Dayton advances to play Elgin in second round action next week. Dugat will enter the second round game with 81 catches for 1,237 yards and14 touchdowns as well as 38 rushes for 399 yards and four scores.
His career numbers are now 200 catches for 2, 917 yards and 37 touchdowns, 132 rushes for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns and 463 yards passing five scores.