Penn State RB Curtis Dukes tells The Fizz he is staying in Happy Valley, and will not join Syracuse. Last night, after things had cooled down over the last 48 hours on the possible transfer front, Dukes confirmed to us via text that none his potential landing schools followed up, and that he will remain a Nittany Lion for his final two years of eligibility.
“I’m just going to stay at PSU”
The 6’2″, 240 lb. power back played his high school ball near Watertown, at Indian River, and rushed for nearly 6 yards per carry last season behind standout Silas Redd (who is transferring to USC). Dukes was looking for a new home since the NCAA dropped the hammer on PSU. Dukes told The Fizz he definitely had interest in returning home to play his college ball if SU wanted him. But apparently Doug Marrone did not reach out. I asked Marrone at Big East Media Day in Newport Tuesday about potential PSU transfers. He said there was nothing happening.
“We were contacted by some players in the beginning. Honestly, right now at this present time, we are not involved with any Penn State player or any situation at Penn State.”
One of those players was Dukes. He had his Indian River Coach Cory Marsell contact the SU coaching staff earlier this week. Marsell tells The Fizz he asked the Syracuse staff to get in touch with Marrone and reach out to Curtis. That never happened. Dukes was certainly serious about transferring to a different program this fall. Because of the NCAA sanctions imposed on PSU, any player could transfer to another school and play immediately. He had received interest from Purdue, Hawaii and Florida Atlantic, but told The Fizz earlier this week, SU would have been the best fit.
“Syracuse is very good program. I would seriously consider playing for them. Being able to play in front of the home crowd, it would be nice to play in front of them. It is closer to home for my family.”
For Dukes, no school he was interested in showed enough interest to leave Penn State. While he won’t be able to play in the postseason, he does get to compete under a former NFL assistant in Bill O’Brien, in one of the most powerful conferences in the nation for the next two years. Any Penn State players have until next summer to transfer as well, although that would be heading into his senior year. He expressed his discontent to The Fizz.
“Yes, it is difficult for me because I would want to play in a bowl game. I feel like it’s not fair because all the hard work we put in I feel like we deserve some type of BCS standing or bowl bid. I’m definitely upset about that.”
At Big East Media Day, Coach Marrone had acknowledged he did get a call from Coach Marsell, but obviously could not discuss Dukes directly. Sounds like he didn’t want to submarine the current or incoming players that had already pledged trust and faith in his program.
“Have you looked at our roster? I just think it’s a difficult situation. What people have to understand is that, we have people on our roster that we’ve recruited, I’ve talked to, I’ve said things to, and we’re excited about them. And I think you have to be careful about what type of message you send. But at the same time, don’t get me wrong on my message, if there was a player that could help us be a better football team, we would pursue them. As of right now, we’re not pursuing any player at Penn State.”
So with camp opening in just days for both schools, it seems the saga of Curtis Dukes will come to an end. Although he is a solid athlete and a great downhill runner, Marrone felt there is no need to bring in another tailback. O’Brien has also publicly lauded Marrone for how he has respectfully handled the poaching of Penn State players. The two have a very close relationship. Maybe this was also a case of right and wrong for Doug.
Dukes admits it has been such a chaotic tim, he wouldn’t ever want to deal with ever again.
“Yes, it’s definitely overwhelming. With all the distractions going on, and us getting ready for football games and practices, it’s really been a dysfunctional time in our program. It really does effect us.”
Dukes was once recruited by Greg Robinson out of high school in ’08 and ’09, and had Syracuse high on his list before ultimately choosing the Nittany Lions. Marsell believes the most beneficial element of Curtis’ game is his drive on and off the field.
“Curtis’ biggest asset is his work ethic, he’s willing to put in the extra time, he’s always in the weight room, trying to strengthen himself. His ability to keep on pushing when others have other things on their minds, that’s probably Curtis’ biggest strength.”
And now you can only wish Dukes the best at PSU, as the program starts to trudge through some dark years in the near future. Now that former 1,000-yard rusher Redd has transferred to USC, it is likely that Dukes will lead the PSU offense this season in the backfield. As much as he wanted to become a member of SU, Orange Nation won’t get the chance to see that happen.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald