During a recent trip to California, wide receiver Malachi Dupre, the highly touted LSU signee from John Curtis, caught passes from a host of major college quarterbacks.
The list includes Baylor’s Bryce Petty, Michigan State’s Connor Cook and Notre Dame’s Everett Golson.
Oh, and Brandon Harris, the LSU freshman who wowed the school’s fan base in the team’s spring game.
“You couldn’t tell the difference between them throwing you the ball and Brandon,” Dupre said in a phone interview this week.
Starting Friday, Dupre will catch passes from Harris as an LSU football player — officially.
Dupre and other football signees, part of the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class, are scheduled to report to LSU on Friday, the first step in what’s expected to be a three- to five-year journey in Baton Rouge.
All of the big names are set to report, according to the university. That includes Dupre; running back Leonard Fournette, the nation’s top recruit; five-star linebacker Clifton Garrett.
Eighteen members of the 23-man signing class will report Friday. Two enrolled in January. Five-star safety Jamal Adams and kicker Cameron Gamble are expected to enroll later in June, and defensive tackle Trevonte Valentine is set to arrive in August.
Fournette leads the class, but Dupre’s not far behind.
Some rated Dupre as the top receiver in the nation last year; he’s a speedy and smart player who will be expected to play early. LSU lost its top two receivers and three of its top four from 2013.
Dupre knows what will be expected of him.
“Be ready. Be ready to play,” Dupre said LSU coaches told him.
“I have a real fortunate situation,” he said. “I have good opportunity to (play early). It’s going to be hard to be a freshman and play, and I understand that. I have to make sure I have to handle everything I can and be mature.”
Dupre started the transition from high school star to college rookie months ago. A day after National Signing Day in February, Dupre and Fournette, a St. Augustine product, made the ride to Baton Rouge to spend time with their future teammates.
Dupre, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, spent his entire summer break in Baton Rouge working out with LSU players — namely Harris. The two are good friends who began throwing with each other last spring at a camp in Dallas.
When Dupre made his final decision to choose LSU over UCLA and Florida State — a decision made, he said, just 10 hours before slipping on that LSU cap live on ESPN — he began throwing on a regular bases with Harris.
“We got right to work,” he said.
Most recently, Harris and Dupre attended a football camp in San Diego this May with QB guru George Whitfield.
“He’s got a great arm,” Dupre said of Harris.
They were schooled on football in the classroom and prepared physically on the field for what’s expected to be a big fall for both. Harris will compete with sophomore Anthony Jennings to replace Zach Mettenberger as LSU’s starting quarterback.
“There’s a great quarterback he’s battling with,” Dupre said. “He understands that. Anthony is older and has the advantage and game experience. That makes (Harris) work harder too on the mental side. He has it physically. When you’re trying to beat somebody out with experience, you have to take it serious. Show the coaches you’re reliable.
“To start as a freshman at one position is one thing, but quarterback … that’s big. He’s handling it as well as he could. They’re both great quarterbacks.”
Dupre, 17 other signees and 10 walk-ons are set to report Friday to start a demanding summer process.
Dupre will spend it living with Jennings and linebacker Duke Riley, another John Curtis product, at the West Campus Apartments.
Summer school starts Monday, the beginning of a busy weekday schedule. From Monday through Friday until fall camp, Dupre and the other signees will attend morning class, work out and then meet with coaches in the evening.
Said Dupre: “My day will start at 7 a.m. and end around 6.”