TAMPA, Fla. — Tre’ Dukes can already envision the emotion if he and his family hear his name called during the 2021 NFL Draft.
“I know my dad, my mom, they’re going to be crying,” Dukes told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “I’ve been telling them this dream since I was in third grade. It’s exciting right now just thinking about it.”
It was a dream that nearly faded for the former University of South Florida wide receiver.
“Coach Strong came in and he wanted to make some changes to the program,” Dukes recalled. “He did. In 2018 I got suspended that whole year.”
Eleven players were suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. During that time, Dukes showed perseverance and loyalty.
“Bouncing back from that suspension and being the only guy of the 11 that were suspended that came back, didn’t transfer,” he said. “I stuck with it. Coach Strong ended up leaving and Coach Scott came in. I became the number one guy.”
The 6-4, 216-pound receiver had a career-best year in his final season on the field for the Bulls. Dukes finished second on the team with 24 receptions for 297 yards and led the team with four touchdown catches.
Over the last three months, he’s been working out with trainer Yo Murphy.
“I’m trying to stay active, trying to keep my mind off draft day,” Dukes said. “I come out here early in the morning, go lift. After that, I go home catch a few hundred balls on the jug machine.”
That’s seven days a week. Just for a chance.
“Just for a team to give me an opportunity,” Dukes said. “I don’t care if I get drafted, undrafted free agent. As long as a team gives me a chance that’s all I need.”