Louisiana pride: LSU's Malachi Dupre talks Les Miles, Leonard Fournette and the Tigers' 2016 signing class
He is a New Orleans native, a budding star receiver and a former high school state champion. And no, he says, eating grass with Les Miles is not a requirement for LSU football players. Tigers rising junior wideout Malachi Dupre chatted with Campus Rush just days after his program welcomed its 2016 signing class.
Lindsay Schnell: There was so much controversy surrounding LSU toward the end of last season, yet your program still managed to sign one of the top recruiting classes in the country. How did that work?
Malachi Dupre: Our season didn't end how we wanted it to, (as) we lost three games in a row. But at the end of the day, our recruiting class is a testament to this program's history, how great it is and the players who have come through here. I think the recruits wanted to be part of something special; those guys are the type of guys we need. I feel the pride, and I'm just happy to be part of it myself.
LS: Les Miles has a reputation for being pretty quirky. When he recruited you, what stood out? Did he do anything weird that made you want to play for him?
MD: Coach Miles is a different guy. He's a character. But that makes playing for him very fun and enjoyable. He jokes around at practice but he gets his work done. Just like when he recruited me, I assume it's like this with everyone—who he is in person, it doesn't change one bit. How he is in TV and interviews, that's how he is in person. He doesn't change that for anyone. He's a happy person and I'm glad to have him as my coach.
LS: What's the strangest thing you've seen him do? Have you ever eaten grass with him?
MD: (laughs) Our team likes to listen to music and dance a lot, and he's started to pick up on that. He likes the hip-hop music now, like us. When he tries to dance and do the dances we do, it's very humorous. He doesn't have much rhythm, but he tries.
And, no, I have not eaten any grass with him. I don't think I'll be eating any grass, with anyone, no matter where it comes from. I've never asked him how it tastes, but I'll have to ask.
LS: You're from New Orleans and LSU cleaned up on the recruiting trail in your home state. Do you think this class has the most talent you've seen coming out of Louisiana in a while?
MD: I know the state had a lot of talent this year, and I know we got a lot of that talent. I have to be kind of selfish right now, though: I think the 2014 class was the most talented, and that's mine (laughs). Guys like Leonard (Fournette) and Speedy (Noil), Cam Robinson and Brandon Harris … the list goes on and on. The guys coming out this year, I can't wait to see how they do in college. I'll wait to judge them at the end. But in recent history, I think it's my class that has the most talent.
LS: What does it mean to you, as Louisiana native, to play alongside so many teammates from your state and to represent the area's flagship team?
MD: It means a lot to play with guys from my state, and I know guys like Leonard, and myself, who come from New Orleans, we talk about what it's like to play for the hometown team. We have a special bond. But even guys who are from out of state, I feel like there's a bond there with the state of Louisiana. I think guys from Texas and Florida, they're playing for Louisiana also. When you come here, you join a brotherhood, a family, and I think everyone's fighting for one goal: We want to win a national championship. We're fighting for Louisiana, our family and God. But I do think the guys from Louisiana, we have a special pride.
LS: I know you don't want to play favorites but … which signees are you most excited about?
MD: Aww, man. I have to be selfish and say receivers. I know we have a lot of talent at all the positions coming in, but I love working with other receivers every day, watching young guys get better. I know I have a lot to improve on, and I can't wait to get better with those guys. When you see a freshman come in and the transformation they make, it's very impressive. Every position does that, but because I'm in the same room as the receivers and get to work directly with them, (those are) the ones I'm most excited about.
LS: Do you think any of those receivers will challenge for your spot? And do you think the incoming defensive backs will be able to hang with you in coverage?
MD: I hope the DBs coming in this class can cover, but for my sake I hope they can't cover me. From the receiver standpoint, I do hope they come in and challenge me for time. That's the job they came here to do. I know they didn't come here to sit on the bench and watch me play. As a true freshman, I got playing time, got in and scored some touchdowns, so I know what it's like to come in with a chip on your shoulder and have people tell you what you can and can't do. Sometimes people tell you if you come to a university like this, you have to be ready to sit. Forget that! I feel like the guys we recruited—we have two early enrollees, Stephen Sullivan and Dee Anderson—they're very talented. I think they can challenge me and push me.
LS: What makes Leonard Fournette so good?
MD: (low whistle) A lot. I haven't seen somebody 230 pounds, 6 feet tall, run like he does. In the games, it's amazing what he does, to see him do it against other people. But I've seen him do some stuff in practice that he hasn't even done in games yet. It just makes you appreciate him. He's just blessed. There aren't many people walking on earth, maybe a handful, who can do what he does with his size.
LS: Which of your teammates is poised for a breakout season in 2016?
MD: I feel like (quarterback) Brandon Harris is. He started and had a decent season (in 2015), and I think he did well with the adversity he had to overcome. He's very good, he just hasn't broken out yet. And I think this season he'll have a lot of opportunities to make big plays in the passing game and show what he can do.
LS: You were a state champion in the triple, long and high jump coming out of John Curtis Christian School. Why did you choose to focus on football?
MD: Honestly, in high school I just did track because it helped me stay in shape. I was blessed with some God-given talent to jump and I wanted to utilize that, didn't want to feel like I was wasting talent. But track was never my favorite thing to do. I didn't even do it my senior year. I don't know why I didn't like it as much, but I think it was the nerves. I go play in front of 100,000 people at LSU, or I go high jump against three or four guys in front of 100 people and, oh my gosh, I'd be so nervous to jump. Track used to freak me out.
LS: Which karaoke song would you most want to perform with Les Miles?
MD: Hmm. I'm trying to think of a song he can relate to and also knows the lyrics to and (that I could) see him dance to …
LS: Well, you said he likes hip-hop now. Maybe something from that genre.
MD: He does! "Hotline Bling." I want to see him perform "Hotline Bling" with me and Drake. Drake dances in that video, and he's pretty quirky himself, so I feel like it would go hand-in-hand with coach Miles.
LS: What will you be doing for the Super Bowl? And who will you root for?
MD: I'll probably be in the ward, watching it with my family. I come from a football family, and we enjoy watching stuff like that. I feel like the Super Bowl is a day you eat a lot of snacks. Usually I eat a lot of protein and healthy food, but I think instead I'll just eat a lot of snacks. Hopefully I'll be fine when I come back to workouts the next week. My favorite snack is ice cream and chocolate chips. I don't really even like sweets very much, but I like those two things—I could eat those two things all day long Sunday.
To be honest, I'm very excited for Cam Newton and what he's done this year, especially getting into a car accident before the season and the controversy he's faced and handled. But if this is Peyton Manning's last game, I want to see him go out having a good game also. I don't really have a favorite. I just hope it's a good game. I feel like both quarterbacks would appreciate that.