Citadel QBs Ben Dupree and Aaron Miller accounted for 18 TDs last year. Their 2012 rushing and passing statistics:
Name Rush Yds Avg. TDs Att-Cmp Pct. Yds TDs
Ben Dupree 839 5.2 9 25-45 55.6 387 3
Aaron Miller 262 3.2 5 34-69 49.3 513 1
Totals 1,101 4.5 14 59-114 51.7 900 4
Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree comes by his Twitter handle — @BossType2 — quite naturally.
Growing up, he had a cousin who used to call himself “the boss of the boss.”
“Because of him, I always wanted to be the boss,” said Dupree, who wears No. 2 for the Bulldogs. “Hence, BossType2.”
No question, Dupree is the boss of The Citadel’s triple-option offense as the Bulldogs head into one of their most eagerly anticipated football seasons in years.
With The Citadel coming off a 7-4 season that included upsets of Southern Conference powers Georgia Southern and Appalachian State — and with those teams ineligible for the SoCon title this year as they transition to the FBS level — Bulldogs fans are hoping for a run at the military school’s first league title since 1992.
If the Bulldogs get there, it will be in large part because of the self-belief of their 5-9, 185-pound quarterback, who never wavered during his difficult first two seasons at The Citadel.
“The thing I love about Ben,” said coach Kevin Higgins, “is that he has thick skin. When I was with the Detroit Lions, (head coach) Steve Mariucci used to tell us, ‘You have to have thick skin to make it in the NFL.’
“Well, Ben does. You can get after him, you can challenge him and he will respond. If you said the same thing to other guys, they might go in the tank or they might sulk. Ben’s never done that because he’s got that confidence. He never questions whether he’s going to make a play or not.”
That confidence stems from Dupree’s youth in Harrisburg, Pa. Despite his size, Dupree was usually the best athlete on his team in whatever sport he tried. He led his high school basketball team to 32 wins and the state championship game, and guided his football team to a school-record 12 wins. He also ran track and impressed Higgins by dunking a basketball as a 5-7½ point guard.
“I played with guys who were as good as me,” Dupree said. “But they didn’t make it because they messed up off the field. I learned from them, and I think that’s what made me who I am now.”
Dupree was one of Higgins’ first signees in 2010, after the coach made the decision to switch his offense to run-oriented triple-option. Dupree earned the starting QB job as a freshman. But he lost that job by halftime of the season opener against Chowan, with fellow freshman Matt Thompson coming off the bench to throw three touchdown passes in a 56-14 victory.
Dupree didn’t return to QB until the 10th game of that 3-8 season. He won back the starting job as a sophomore, but the Bulldogs were only marginally better, losing their final three games to finish at 4-7. During those two seasons, the Bulldogs fumbled 79 times in 22 games as they struggled to master the triple-option.
“I had to learn to shrug off a bad play, how to come back the next play and shake it off,” he said. “I struggled with that at first, so I feel like I have grown and learned a lot.”
Dupree showed how much he’s learned in the upsets of Georgia Southern and App State last year. He ran for 92 yards and threw a TD pass in the 23-21 win over GSU, and strafed App State for 180 rushing yards and two TDs in a 52-28 win. He finished the season with 839 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, the most yards for a Citadel QB sinced Stanley Myers ran for 859 in 1995.
Higgins wants to squeeze as much as he can out of Dupree in his final season. Dupree has been catching 100 punts a week over the summer and will get first crack at the punt-returner job when practice opens Aug. 5. And with junior Aaron Miller and redshirt freshman Trey White providing depth at quarterback, Dupree could see some snaps at slotback as well.
No matter where Dupree lines up, Higgins is confident he’ll make something good happen.
“He never questions whether he can make a play or not,” Higgins said. “With so many other guys, you have to work through a layer of fear or worry. With Ben, you don’t have to do that at all.”
That’s why he’s a BossType.