Duquesne is striving to grow off of an FCS playoff win and a historic season.
While they have skyscraper heights in their vision, the reason that team was able to fly so far was some of the senior leadership. Duquesne is losing four starting offensive lineman, and one of the best receivers in school history in Nehari Crawford. On defense, players such as Jalen Booker, Jonathant Istache and Brandon Stanback highlight losses on all levels.
That led to a busy couple of weeks for the Dukes’ coaching staff as they prepared to bring in 11 fresh faces for the 2019 season and moving into the future.
On Wednesday, the Dukes officially added offensive linemen Michael Dorundo (Gibsonia, Pa. / Pine-Richland) and Nick Vance (Olmsted Falls, Ohio / Olmsted Falls), quarterbacks Chase Diehl (Harrisburg, Pa. / Bishop McDevitt) and Jason Sweeney (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Upper St. Clair), running backs Michael Daure (Castle Shannon, Pa. / Keystone Oaks) and Joe Jamison (Buffalo, N.Y. / Canisius), athlete Logan Lutz (Grove City, Pa. / Grove City), defensive lineman Nate Clingan (Lodi, Ohio / Cloverleaf) and linebacker Todd Hill (Homestead, Pa. / Steel Valley) in addition to two transfers: wide receiver Dontay Mayfield (Homestead, Fla. / Gulliver Prep / UCF) and offensive lineman Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Baldwin / Penn State).
“We have really good academics to offer,” head coach Jerry Schmitt noted as his biggest sales pitch. “We have an experienced staff, and we have young coaches on the staff who have really started to do a good job and it is showing.”
The staff was able to develop the talent that took them to the NEC champions.
Duquesne pulled in two recruits from Ohio and one from New York. The rest came in-state, and five came from the WPIAL. Schmitt coached in the WPIAL for 17 years from West Allegheny to Avonworth, Bethel Park, and South Fayette. With his track record and other local staffers, Schmitt has been able to find strong fits for the player and the coaches.
“Some players do not want to play close to home,” he admitted. “First we get a feel for if they want to play locally. Then, we identify if we are a fit on the field and academically. It can be an advantage having experience in the area and having staffers who can build relationships in the area.”
Schmitt also has experience in finding plug-and-play transfers, who can benefit the team in 2019. Last season, Duquesne brought in Daniel Parr (FAU) and Reid Harrison-Ducros (Boise State), who both made impacts last season at quarterback and cornerback respectively.
This season, Schmitt and his staff added Dontay Mayfield, a wide receiver from UCF, and a former WPIAL player and Penn State recruit in tackle Sterling Jenkins. Both players are with the team now and will be competing for starting spots this spring.
“Graduating four on the offensive line, Jenkins will get his chance to earn starting time this spring and Mayfield is a long player with good hands, the type of receiver we like,” Schmitt said.
Breaking down the prospects
Michael Dorundo and Nick Vance
“They are a similar to our offensive lineman, they may not have great size when it comes to weight, but we have been able to work with that,” Schmitt stated. “What they have is really quick feet.”
Chase Diehl and Jason Sweeney
“Both are from a winning culture, and bring good arms and good feet,” Schmitt said. “We have had success with quarterbacks who have been quick on their feet.”
Michael Daure and Logan Lutz
“Daure is listed as a running back, but he can run behind the line and can also play in the slot,” Schmitt noted. “He could even play in the defensive backfield. … Logan played receiver and played safety. He has great ball skills, but where he will end up we are not sure yet.”
The Dukes did have success last season with senior Daquan Hardy playing running back and cornerback, and Schmitt noted he liked the versatility.
Joe Jamison and Todd Hill
“Jamison is listed as a running back, but for us, we will recruit him as a safety,” Schmitt noted. “He is a great downhill player. … Todd Hill is another great downhill player that we are penciling in on the defensive side of the ball to play linebacker.”
“Clingan is a talented defensive lineman, who similarly to the offensive lineman has quick feet. We know that we can work with his feet.”