By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Special Interest | Issue: June 2020
When Marcus was seven years old, he used bricks as weights to train and build muscles. He frequented his Grandmother’s yard to run a line of equally-spaced hedges. His first strength, speed, and agility training!
“I knew I was a pretty good athlete as a kid,” says Marcus, “but most of the guys I grew up with were also pretty good. I was competitive, but I didn’t really consider myself exceptional until much later. I didn’t want my mom to have to pay for my college education so I worked really hard to get a football scholarship to pay for it. I’ve always tried to be the best I can be.”
Marcus Dupree grew up in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and played football for the Philadelphia High School Tornadoes where his spectacular play earned national recognition and admiration. Although Dupree was big at 6’ 2”, 225 lbs., he was deceptively fast, agile, and tough. He was one of the most highly recruited high school football players in the history of American football. During his senior year, Marcus became a magnet that attracted interest from every major college football program in the nation. His gridiron accomplishments inspired Willie Morris, a southern author, to write a book about Dupree’s nationally publicized college recruitment titled The Courting of Marcus Dupree.
“A second human interest book is now in progress,” says Marcus. “It’s about growing up in Philadelphia and includes the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of my life. It should be released in the not-too-distant future.”
During his 1979 freshman year for the Tornadoes, Dupree’s honors included Best Offensive Player, Most Valuable Player and Player of the Year in the Mid-Mississippi Conference. In four seasons with the Tornadoes, he scored 87 touchdowns breaking Herschel Walker’s high school record of 86.
Dupree committed to the University of Oklahoma in 1982 and played his freshman season and part of the ‘83-’84 season for Barry Switzer. He won the Big 8 Newcomer of the Year Award, was named to AP’s All-Big Eight First Team and UPI placed him on their All-Big Eight Second Team. Marcus was featured on a Sports Illustrated cover in 1983 and his incredible running abilities were often the topic of national news broadcasts. His elusiveness persuaded Switzer and the Oklahoma coaching staff to successfully change their offensive strategy to the “I” formation to maximize Dupree’s effectiveness.
Oklahoma played Arizona State in the Fiesta Bowl on January 1, 1983. Although playing only a little more than half the game because of four injuries, Dupree set a Fiesta Bowl rushing record of 239 yards and was named MVP.
Marcus left the University of Oklahoma in 1983 immediately after the OU v Texas game planning to transfer to Southern Miss, but learned he would have to sit out for two years. He never donned a Golden Eagle uniform. Dupree joined the newly formed USFL New Orleans Breakers in 1984.
Although gaining 684 yards on 145 carries with nine touchdowns for the Breakers, a knee injury forced Dupree to leave football. While spending an unprecedented five and a half years away from professional football, his will, determination, work ethic and passion for the game were catalysts to recondition and earn a tryout with the Los Angeles Rams. In 1990 he made the team and was named Comeback Player of the Year. He was, however, released by the Rams after a respectable sophomore season.
Dupree first suffered a hamstring injury while running high school track. “That’s the injury that eventually forced me out of football,” he said. “When I recovered from the anesthesia after my injury and surgery while with the Breakers, I looked up at my Mom. I then looked down at my knee and, literally, tore the cast off. My dreams were over.”
So, what is Marcus Dupree doing now? He’s a highly successful businessman with interests in many areas. He is Co-Founder & CEO of Marcus Dupree MVP College Recruiting & Consulting. He is also a motivational and inspirational speaker. ESPN filmed and aired a highly acclaimed documentary in 2010 about Dupree’s football career. The documentary reflects Dupree’s integrity and character throughout his career and how his winning attitude has helped him cope with life after football. ESPN’s The Best That Never Was aired in 2010 on 30 for 30. “My phone immediately began ringing,” says Marcus. “People wanted to hear my story. That was the beginning of my speaking business. Instead of dwelling on loss, I’ve come to realize that patience is a process. Today I’m appreciative of the lessons I’ve learned and am aware that future opportunities must not be squandered.”
Marcus makes personal appearances at corporate events, gives inspirational speeches to a broad range of audiences and was recently a national spokesperson for Novo Nordisk. He has appeared in regional commercials including Hyundai and was cast in a 2017 feature film, One Mile to You.
Marcus Dupree MVP College Recruiting & Consulting is dedicated to help guide and educate high school student athletes playing football and other sports. “Many of these athletes are flying under the radar,” says Marcus. “We help them (and their families) travel through the college recruiting process with confidence and a peace of mind.” The program is unique and is designed to personalize the process based on athletic and academic needs of each student athlete. “We help assure that they get the exposure they need with college coaches who will, hopefully, want them in their sports programs.”
The Mission of Marcus Dupree MVP College Recruiting & Consulting is to make sure that all high school student athletes who want to play the sport they love at the collegiate level are able to do so at a school of their choosing. “We get to know our student athletes and their families on a personal level,” added Dupree. “We develop a comprehensive, step-by-step recruiting game plan for each student athlete in order to achieve his/her ultimate goals. We are NCAA and NAIA compliant.”
The former football recruit and star still wears his OU number 22 jersey when making special appearances for Crowbar Championship Wrasslin’ which is based in Oklahoma. “I don’t do it for the money,” said the entrepreneurial Dupree. “I do it because of my childhood affinity with pro wrestling. Plus I love to entertain, especially children who are pro wrestling fans.”
Marcus and his girlfriend, Kim, raise, train and sell gaited show horses in Louisiana. In 2010, they were Mississippi State Champions in the Men’s and the Women’s Gaited Classes.
Marcus is also involved as a spokesperson and mentor for Families First of Mississippi. Families First is a non-profit organization that facilitates youth development programs throughout Dupree’s home state.
What is Marcus Dupree doing now? He’s enjoying life.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.
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