As an outside linebacker and running back on the Bennett High team, Isaiah McDuffie did his part to lead the offense and defense this past season.
During the 2015 campaign, McDuffie, who stands 6’1″ and 200-pounds, amassed more than 1,500 rushing yards on only 108 carries, which creates an average of more than 14 yards per carry. If that wasn’t enough, McDuffie also recorded 91 tackles, four sacks, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and one interception.
“I think it went pretty well,” the New York prep star told Today’s U. “We made it to the championship game, but unfortunately we lost. I can always do better, but I think I had some good achievements this year overall. I made first team all-state.”
On the field, McDuffie is an aggressive player that impacts the game on both sides of the ball. While most linebackers excel in stuffing the run, McDuffie is equally versed in dropping into coverage, a skill that will be utilized often at the next level.
“I would describe myself as a playmaker,” McDuffie said. “I’m a very physical player on both sides of the ball. I’d probably prefer outside [linebacker] because I can cover or play in the box too. I can really play either or.”
During the summer, McDuffie, who is listed as a three-star linebacker by 247Sports.com, attended a camp at Syracuse, the school that eventually offered and to which he committed. According to McDuffie’s father, Steve, the junior prospect stood out at the Syracuse camp due to his apparent ability to lock up top wide receivers during drill work.
“When Isaiah went to the Syracuse camp, he was MVP of the Syracuse camp because he was covering 5-star receivers and he was really locking them down,” McDuffie said. “Then when he want to the UV camp, he was also covering the best guys there. What coaches have a tendency to do with him, they put him over there with the defensive backs when they start doing 1-on-1s and he doesn’t have any problem covering at all.
That’s why a lot of people really, really want him, because the physicality of how he plays, but also he can really, really cover. To be able to cover the way he does, he’s a really special player. Not everyone can do that.”
With Syracuse extending a scholarship offer after seeing his ability, McDuffie issued his verbal commitment on account of its proximity from home and the program’s track record.
“It’s close to home, I like the tradition there and the linebackers coach,” McDuffie said.
Syracuse recently announced that former Bowling Green coach Dino Babers would be taking over the Syracuse program as head coach. McDuffie has not had a chance to speak with the new staff yet, although that will be coming in the near future.
“I haven’t had the chance, but they are saying they should be calling all the recruits soon,” McDuffie said. “Because they are starting to get in the program and interviews and stuff. He should be calling any time. I kept in contact with all the recruiters and they kept me posted on what is going on.”
McDuffie has been on Syracuse’s campus multiple times this year, taking in a rowdy environment for both the LSU and Clemson games this season.
“I went to a couple games this year,” McDuffie said. “I went to the LSU game and the Clemson game. I went to the Carrier Dome when I got there. When I went there for the Clemson game, they had just opened up the 44 memorial.”
McDuffie says that Babers’ hiring did not affect his commitment “at all.”