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January 7, 2010

Duke firms up plans for being a Rebel

Longtime Ole Miss offensive tackle commitment Jared Duke received an in-home visit from Rebel offensive coordinator Kent Austin this week and has firmed up his official visit plans.

Duke, a 6-foot-6, 325 pound prospect rated three-stars by Rivals.com from Cleveland (Walker Valley HS), Tenn., committed to the Rebels last August and has remained firm with his plans since making his verbal pledge.

Duke selected Ole Miss over offers from Louisville and Columbia and was recruited by a host of other schools.

"After I committed to Ole Miss, things (his recruitment by other schools) slowed down quite a bit," he said on Wednesday evening. "Mississippi State called me the day after I committed to Ole Miss and I've continued to get a lot of mail from Kentucky and Stanford, but nothing really serious."

According to Duke, it probably wouldn't have made much difference anyway. He attended Ole Miss' senior camp in late July, received an offer from offensive line coach Mike Markuson only days later, made a second trip to further check out the campus a week later, then pulled the trigger with a verbal pledge.

Since then, he's visited Ole Miss for the UAB and Tennessee games as an unofficial visitor and tripped at his own expense, including purchasing tickets, to watch the Rebels play Vanderbilt in Nashville.

His visit by Austin, if there was ever any doubt, solidified his commitment to Ole Miss.

"Coach Austin was in (his house) for about two hours," he said. "We just talked about everything - the Cotton Bowl, the team and my future at Ole Miss, and stuff not even related to football. It was really great."

He also firmed up his official visit date for the weekend of Jan. 22.

Meanwhile, several post-season awards have rolled in for Duke.

He was selected first team all-state (6A classification) by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and as a member of the Nashville Tennessean's Dream Team. His write up as a Dream Team member noted that he did not allow a sack all season, playing in a spread offense, and had he had an offensive line grade of 87 percent, with 40 knockdown blocks. He is also rated the No. 10 prospect in Tennessee.

"I really don't know what all awards I received," he said. "I know I was on the Dream Team and some all-state polls, but not all of them, I don't think."

He said he is not participating in any sports this spring and is concentrating on just football and getting ready to report to Ole Miss in the summer. He plans to enroll for the second semester of summer school which begins in early July.

Duke said he did make it a point to sit down with his family last Saturday and watch Ole Miss play in the Cotton Bowl - a 21-7 Rebel win for their second straight Cotton Bowl trophy.

"Ole Miss was definitely the better team," Duke said. "I really enjoyed the game."

One thing Ole Miss coaches will not have to worry about when it comes to Duke is his chances of qualifying. There was a reason for the offer from Columbia - Duke has a 24 on his ACT and a 3.6 GPA.

"I'm about as firm with Ole Miss as anyone could be, " he said. "I'm really excited about going to Ole Miss and looking forward to signing next month."


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