Despite rushing offense, Dupre dominates

RIVER RIDGE, La. -- It's almost unfair.

John Curtis Christian School has won more state championships than any high school football team in Louisiana, built on legendary coach J.T. Curtis' signature split-back veer offense, which values quality backs in an explosive running game.

So for the Patriots to have a tall, fast, high-jumping wide receiver with good ball skills split out wide is a defense's worst nightmare.

And that's just what they face in Malachi Dupre, arguably the best of one of the deepest crops of Louisiana wide receivers in the state's history.

Dupre, the No. 2 receiver prospect in the ESPN 150, puts up huge numbers not just in spite of, but in part thanks to, Curtis' high-powered running attack.

"I do see a lot of one-on-one coverage," said the ESPN Watch List prospect. "I really think this offense helps me because teams can't double me."

Indeed, Dupre's statistics and his stock as a prospect haven't been compromised by playing in a triple-option attack. As a junior for the Class 2A state champion -- named a mythical national champion by several organizations -- Dupre caught 36 passes for 816 yards and 15 touchdowns, a whopping 22.7 yards per catch. He outclassed a lot of man-to-man defense.

In the process, he's drawn the interest of high-end schools, including offers from all the usual suspects such as LSU, Notre Dame and UCLA. What helps Dupre is that while he plays in an option-based attack, he doesn't "camp" like a receiver who is used to deferring to the running game.

Dupre turned heads at last summer LSU's camp, where he showed remarkably advanced precision and skill. It was the result of work he put in that he didn't necessarily need to put in.

"Even though we have a running offense, we work as much on the passing game as anybody," said Curtis, who is the state's all-time leader in coaching wins and state titles. "We want to be good at it for when we need it."

Dupre's game shows it. He doesn't just beat one-on-one coverage with pure athleticism. He makes sharp, meaningful cuts. He understands coverages. He looks like a guy who is coming out of a pro-style passing offense.

"We work on it all the time," Dupre said. "We play a lot of teams that might run the spread, but they don't run their routes as good as we do; they don't get low on their breaks. You can tell they don't work on it like we do."

Curtis won't label Dupre the best receiver he's had -- he notes that running back Joe McKnight, now in the NFL, played a little receiver for the Patriots -- but doesn't hesitate to say Dupre is "rare" based on his obvious talents and his desire to work on the finer points of his game.

In an era of specialization, Dupre is a three-sport athlete who stars on Curtis' basketball team and then excels in jumps and relays in track and field. He still finds time to work on the finer points of football during the offseason.

"That's asking a lot of him," Curtis said. "But Malachi has that kind of work ethic."

Schools and scouts have noticed, even if Dupre -- true to his conventional-wisdom-be-damned form -- isn't always trying to sell himself.

He has visited UCLA and LSU -- he attended LSU's scrimmage Saturday -- and he said he won't ramp up the recruiting process until after the track and field season.

"I'm still wide-open now," he said.

As wide-open as he usually is on Friday nights, when he uses not only his physical gifts but also his precision to create big plays.