Drew White | Staff Writer
Duquesne Dukes head football coach Jerry Schmitt announced a 21-member recruiting class on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Among the 21 newcomers, five come from FBS, or Football Bowl Subdivision, schools from across the country. Because each player transferred down a division, they will not be subject to sitting out a year like a customary FBS transfer would be.
The five newcomers from the FBS ranks include former FAU quarterback Daniel Parr, Washington State wideout Isaiah Johnson-Mack, Pitt defensive lineman Kam Carter, Syracuse defensive back Daivon Ellison and Boise State defensive back Reid Harrison-Ducros.
To some, the biggest name on this list may be the defensive lineman Carter, who played for Pitt and Penn State in the past. Although he saw limited action at Pitt last season and no action in his lone year at Penn State in 2015, his name may sound familiar.
Between attending the two Keystone State schools, Carter played for coach Buddy Stephens at Eastern Mississippi Community College, which was the subject of the popular Netflix documentary “Last Chance U.”
At EMCC in 2016, Carter recorded 36 tackles and two sacks while helping the team to an 11-1 record. Last year at Pitt, Carter appeared in nine games at defensive tackle, recording eight tackles and a recovered fumble for the Panthers.
Johnson-Mack is perhaps the most successful transfer coming in for the Dukes. In his two seasons at Washington State, playing in a pass-oriented offense under head coach Mike Leach, Johnson-Mack racked up 95 receptions, 801 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver was a starter last year for the Cougars, lining up primarily as the Z receiver in the Air Raid offense.
Johnson-Mack will be joined at Duquesne by his former high school teammate, Daniel Parr. Parr and Johnson-Mack played together in 2015 at William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. That year, the two hooked up 38 times for 791 yards and eight touchdowns, and now they will try to rekindle that magic in Pittsburgh.
After leading his team to a state championship as a junior, Parr had a decent senior year before continuing his career at Florida Atlantic. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, he saw limited action and was named the starter at the beginning of the 2017 season before being replaced. Parr went on to play eight games for the Owls last year, throwing for 588 yards and four touchdowns.
Ellison comes to the Dukes as a senior with one year of eligibility left. After a good campaign as a sophomore in 2016 in which he started nine games at free safety, Ellison saw limited action for the Orange in 2017, playing just nine games, mostly on special teams. In 2016, Ellison led Syracuse in solo tackles with 57. He also forced a fumble and recorded one interception.
Joining Ellison in a very strong secondary for the Dukes will be Harrison-Ducros, a former three-star recruit from Boise State. After starting 10 games as a true freshman in 2016, Harrison-Ducros lost his starting job just four games into the 2017 season. He becomes the second player in as many years to come to Duquesne from Boise State, following in the footsteps of graduate quarterback Tommy Stuart, who excelled for the Dukes in his lone season on the Bluff.
In a press release, Schmitt had this to say about the incoming class of 21: “Today, we welcome a talented and dedicated class of student-athletes to Duquesne University and our football family. They will join our current team members as we pursue excellence on the field, in the classroom and through serving our community.”
All five players are expected to make significant contributions for the Dukes in the 2018 campaign, as they join an experienced Dukes team that returns most of its offensive weapons, besides the aforementioned Stuart.
The Dukes will open up the 2018 season on Aug. 25, as they travel to play one of their two 2018 FBS opponents in UMass in Amherst, Massachusetts.