Detric Bing-Dukes could’ve pouted. He could’ve checked out. The senior played in 11 games in each of his first two seasons since transferring from Iowa Western Community College, but was slipping down the depth chart this offseason through spring and into fall camp.
At 6-foot-1, 253 pounds, Bing-Dukes struggles to play in space at times. He saw himself getting beat out by younger talent like Kevontae’ Ruggs, Mohamed Sanogo and Jacquez Jones among others. Things weren’t going his way and he could’ve disengaged and gone through the motions in a disappointing final season. But that is not how he wanted to portray himself to the rest of the team. There are a lot of young faces in at linebacker and Bing-Dukes is old soul in the room. He thinks that comes with a sense of responsibility.
“I wanted to be there for them,” Bing-Dukes said. “I didn’t want them to see me pissed off and showing them the wrong way to handle things. I wanted them to know, even when they are down they need to prepare like they are starting every single week. That was the biggest thing.”
Bing-Dukes said he was inspired by Tayler Polk’s preparation last year as he awaited an opportunity. Bing-Dukes practiced what he preached and the very scenario he hypothesized came to fruition. Linebackers coach Jon Sumrall and defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff decided last Tuesday to get him reps before the Texas Tech game after he barely got any in the later stages of fall camp. Ruggs went down with an injury in the first half and Bing-Dukes number was called.
“Just knowing two things: What if an injury happens?,” Sumrall said. “What if the young kids get in that NFL stadium and in that environment and freeze up? He at least has some skins on the wall. He has been around. He has seen some good things and bad things. He has been in a lot of situations.”
“Once he got demoted, the best thing I can say about him is he wasn’t bitter. He didn’t pout or mope. He supported the guys around him getting the reps he wanted. That is all you can ask from a guy.”
Bing-Dukes made four tackles and played well in the win. Sumrall said the senior shows enough for them to be comfortable use him without hesitation. He will likely get a lot of snaps at middle linebacker if Ruggs is unable to play, with Sanogo sliding to the outside. Bing-Dukes has helped guide the younger linebackers as they get acclimated to life in the SEC.
“I have seen them take the bull by the horns,” Bing-Dukes said. “Learning, taking steps every day and playing fast with unbelievable effort.”
Montrell Custis shines in the opener:
Perhaps the biggest bright spot to come out of Saturday’s win over the Red Raiders was Montrell Custis. He tallied seven tackles while rotating with Vernon Dasher at the star position in the secondary. They helped keep each other fresh late in the game.
Custis wasn’t originally thought to be a major contributor on this defense. The assumption was Dasher would take over the position. Custis didn’t play much in the spring and was forced to watch Dasher – a newcomer – begin to settle in the position.
“He is a great competitor and a great person,” Custis said. “He actually upped my game to make me play better. We are like a two-headed monster out there as we say.”
Matt Luke said after the game that he’s seen Custis grow up off the field and mature. Custis said it was a decision he made himself in the offseason.
“We had a lot of guys leave last year,” Custis said. “We lost some leaders and I looked at them like I wanted to imitate them. I wanted to push leadership and be like those guys.”
– Sean Rawlings was back at practice on Tuesday after he injured his shoulder and knee in the game.
Damarkus Lodge and Kevontae’ Ruggs did not practice. Both are in concussion protocol.
Jacquez Jones saw some reps with the first-team at middle linebacker with Sanogo at outside linebacker.