Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central wide receiver Albert Dukes made it official earlier this week when he verbaled to Ohio State.
But, according to his mother Sophia Dukes, her son knew where he wanted to be all along.
“Ever since Albert was a sophomore, he has always said he wanted to go to Ohio State,” Sophia Dukes said. “I had argued and fussed with him about taking his five visits. He said, `Mom, I’m going to visit Ohio State and then I’m only going to visit one more school.’ He visited N.C. State and he liked it.”
Mrs. Dukes had reservations about the distance from south Florida to Columbus. But after OSU coach Jim Tressel and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder made in-home visits, she, too, believed OSU was the best place for Albert.
“We felt very comfortable when Coach Tressel came in the home,” Sophia Dukes said. “He was here for three hours and it didn’t seem that long at all. Coach Snyder is like a family member almost.
“I really and truly feel that Ohio State will take better care of my baby.
“His principal called me last night and said, `I think he should go to Ohio State.’ They all wanted Ohio State. At one point, I did not want him to travel that far away. But I did let him know that wherever he goes, I will be there.”
Albert Dukes (6-0 ½, 184, 4.51) told Superprep’s Allen Wallace it was actually a tougher decision than he felt it would be.
“It was a hard decision,” Dukes told Wallace. “It was real close. I liked N.C. State a lot, but I just felt more comfortable at Ohio State. I had been there for camp already and I have a good relationship with all the coaches. I let the coaches know a couple of days ago. Mark Snyder was at my house and I told him.”
As a junior, Dukes had 18 receptions for 440 yards and eight touchdowns. This past year, he had 56 catches for 1,046 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead an 11-1 team.
“I can outrun most of the DBs,” Dukes said. “I'm strong and have good power and am hard to tackle.”
Of course, Glades Central is also the alma mater of current OSU flanker Santonio Holmes. It remains to be seen whether Dukes will follow in Holmes’ footsteps as a big play guy for the Buckeyes. But his high school coach, Larry Coffey, believes Dukes has that kind of potential.
“He is very explosive and has great speed,” Coffey said. “He works hard. His work ethic is great and he is very competitive.
“The thing that impresses me is what he does when he gets the ball in his hands. A lot of receivers just make the catch and they’re happy with that. They don’t make a lot of things happen when they catch the ball. But Albert becomes a running back with the ball in his hands. He is a guy who is looking to make something happen. He wants to take it the distance and he is very effective at it.”
Dukes is rated as the nation’s 24th-best receiver by TheInsidersRecruiting.com.
“I got a call from a guy from Insiders who said they had him ranked 24th,” Coffey said. “I said, `Then, I would like to see the other 23 guys.’ I think Rivals may have had him ranked something like 11th in the country at wide receiver. Even then, I still say I’d like to see the 10 guys ahead of him. The guy from the Insiders said he was probably lower in their poll because they didn’t have tape of him and they were just going off recommendations.
“But he is also a smart kid. When he gets in there, he will pick up the system. As soon as he learns the system, that will allow his ability to take over and he can compete. Then, he can just do everything instinctively.”
Dukes is qualified with a 3.6 GPA and a 19 on the ACT.