- Gerry Hamilton, ESPN Staff Writer
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This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.
The term “two-sport star” is thrown around a lot in recruiting.
There are many prospects that have the desire to play football and run track or play basketball in college, but few actually possess the talent to play two sports at a collegiate level and handle the demands it takes.
One of those rare talents is the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver, Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian).
Not only does the No. 17 prospect have elite ball skills and leaping ability on the football field, but that skill set carries over to track and field, as well.
The 6-foot-3, 187-pound Dupre burst onto the scene as a sophomore taking home the LHSAA state indoor high jump title with a leap of 6-7.25, breaking the 2A state record.
“His 10th-grade year, Malachi had a basketball game on a Friday night,” Dupre’s father, Mike, said. “Then, he had to go high jump the next day at the indoor state meet in Baton Rouge. He went home after the basketball game and iced his legs. He got up early the next morning and we went to Baton Rouge and he won the high jump, and set a state record.”
Dupre followed that with another 2A state title in the triple jump (45-6.25) that spring, and three gold medals in the spring of his junior year on the track.
Last May, he took home state titles in the long jump (23-5.76), high jump (6-6) and triple jump (44-2.75).
If Dupre focused on the jumps, there is little doubt he has the ability to develop and compete at the major college level.
But Dupre is different. He's narrowing his focus to football at the next level.
A Shift To Football
For Dupre, it was his freshman year when the gravitation to football began in full.
“I did football, basketball and track, and I liked baseball too growing up,” Dupre said. “I liked football and basketball the most as I got older ... It was probably sophomore year when I realized football was the best fit for me. I have point-guard height in basketball, and realized my athletic ability would be best in football ... but I didn’t realize I would turn out this good.”
As a former college athlete at Southwest Louisiana, Mike Dupre knew football was his son's future.
“I always said football was the one,” Mike said. “Basketball is tough because you only have 12 or 13 players, and in football you have 85. You could always see his athleticism in basketball, but he didn’t have the height to play forward or the handles to play point guard. His athleticism and size carried over to the football field.”
Making The Decision
Dupre has gone from a relative unknown as an underclassman to the top of the rankings at his position.
It’s even more impressive considering his high school, John Curtis Christian, is primarily a running team in a day and age when high school receivers are putting up monster statistics in spread offenses.
The sure-handed wide receiver, who runs a 4.58-laser-timed 40-yard dash, takes another route when looking at his rise.
Though his stat sheet pales in comparison to others, he understands the program he been a part of has helped shape him.
“The offseason preparation and mental toughness that we have to go through at Curtis definitely helps prepare me,” Dupre said. “College coaches, when they come through and talk to me, say Curtis practices are the closest thing to a college-level practice they have seen. ... I knew the talent I had, and it’s more than stats and catches.”
Dupre has also seen, as teammates got recruiting, just how to deal with the pressure-packed process.
“Seeing how their process went, and how they handled it has helped me," he said. “Friends that have done this before and friends that are already in college that I can trust in is the probably the best advice you can get. Somebody that has gone through it recently, and can tell me what to look at and look forward too is big.”
While LSU, Alabama, Florida State and UCLA are still in the running for Dupre’s services, there is pressure to stay in state.
And while Dupre has received advice from family and former teammates, the final decision will be his alone.
“Wherever Malachi goes, he will face adversity,” Mike Dupre said. “It’s very important for him to make that decision of where he wants to be, so when that adversity hits, he doesn’t want to immediately transfer or have a sense of negativity. If it’s the place he truly wants to be, then that will help him respond to the adversity that he will face.”
The words of wisdom from his parents will be a big part of Dupre being comfortable with his decision, which will be announced live on ESPNU during on national signing day on Feb. 5.
“When I sit down to make that decision, it will be my mom, dad and my brothers, Vernon and Matthew. It will come down to where I’m the most comfortable,” Dupre said.