By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
It seems like Duke Upshaw has been playing football at Baldwyn forever. Unfortunately for the rest of Class 2A, the athlete and defensive back has three more years to play.
Baldwyn coach Michael Gray wanted to use Upshaw – one of the Bearcats’ basketball stars as well – in quarterback formations last season, but injuries kept blocking that effort.
That plan is back on the table for this season.
“Everywhere I go, ‘How’s Duke doing?’” Gray said.
Upshaw won’t sneak up on anyone as a sophomore. Teams are already scheming around him. Despite the fact he missed five games last season, his name is out there and will grow, Gray says, as much as he allows it to.
“If he takes care of his end of the deal, he’s going to have a fun three years,” Gray said. “It’s a matter of us as a coaching staff and him as a player to polish it all up over the next three years.”
Opposing coaches aren’t the only ones paying attention, but don’t expect the reserved Upshaw to blast too much out on Twitter. Ole Miss and Memphis are two early inquirers.
Upshaw accepted a rare freshman invite to the U.S. Army Combine in January. Less than 4 percent of the invitees were freshmen.
He led the Bearcats in rushing as an eighth grader, had 3.4 tackles per game and averaged nearly 35 yards per kick return. A knee injury played a role last season, but he still had four interceptions and was named a second team All-America by MaxPreps.
Upshaw averaged 14 points per game for the Class 2A state championship basketball team.
“Ithink he needs to be a little more fundamentally sound. When he went out to the combine, one of the main things was his technique and fundamentals,” Gray said. “Hopefully that’s going to come. The skill level is there.”