One yet again led to another Wednesday for the former Cherokee County and Jacksonville State standout. In just his first full season in the Professional Indoor Football League, Dupree was named the organization’s Offensive Player of the Year, the league office announced.
“I’m just trying to prove to everybody what I can do,” he said.
Coming off a partial season with the Columbus (Ga.) Lions that was cut short with a strained MCL, Dupree led the PIFL in scoring (242 points), touchdown receptions (40) and receiving yards (1,278) en route to the league’s only unanimous All-PIFL selection.
And all this from a guy who didn’t even want to play football coming out of high school.
Dupree signed a basketball scholarship with Gadsden State Community College. He transferred to Jacksonville State where he finished out his college career on the gridiron. With the Gamecocks, Dupree earned two All-Ohio Valley Conference honors: second team as a kick returner and first team as a wide receiver, where he set a Jacksonville State record with 10 touchdown catches as a senior (2008).
“I had hoop dreams when I was a kid,” he said. “I was talking with my coach about that the other day — everybody out here has a head start on me. I feel like I’m just getting into football shape.”
Despite the delay, Dupree has already garnered interest on football’s highest level. He signed a free-agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars out of college, and he said he had interest from the Philadelphia Eagles last season before the lockout and his injury delayed things.
Back to full speed, Dupree proved he could perform — albeit on a different kind of field. With the indoor league’s playing surface only 50 yards long, things are more confined but are tailored to his quick and speedy style.
“It’s like 10 times faster (than traditional football),” said Dupree, who played this past season as a slot receiver. “… but it’s perfect for me. Some guys need to build up to that speed; with my cuts and all, I don’t.”
Dupree certainly proved it this past season. He accounted for multiple touchdown receptions in all 12 of the Lions’ regular-season games. Eight of his league-high touchdowns came from more than 30 yards out, also a league high.
Dupree is currently staying in Atlanta, where he’s trying to ready himself for potential NFL tryouts, giving himself yet another shot at football’s biggest stage. And with things all seeming to finally be falling into place, he said he’s confident the time is now.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said.
Bran Strickland is the assistant managing editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3590 of follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.