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Dupree Helping Talent Search

When the Redskins revamped their scouting department in 2003, one of the more recognizable names added to the organization was that of Marcus Dupree, once one of the country's most heralded and talented running backs.

Dupree, who jumped at the opportunity to join the Redskins last year as a college scout, was on the road for much of the 2003 season.

He was at Redskins Park in mid-January to join Joe Gibbs and the coaching staff in helping shape the 2004 roster.

And Dupree is among the dozens of scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week.

As a high school senior from Philadelphia, Miss., Dupree was such a highly recruited running back in 1982 that acclaimed author Willie Morris wrote a best-selling book about him, titled "The Courting of Marcus Dupree."

There were even songs written about Dupree, and when he finally chose to play for the University of Oklahoma, he was already something of a legend.

"I grew up in Mississippi, just like Walter Payton did," Dupree said. "I watched Walter, Earl Campbell and Tony Dorsett growing up. When I played, I tried to put all those guys into one person."

At 6-2 and 225 pounds, the fleet-footed Dupree did in fact appear as the physical combination of the three.

He burst onto the college scene right after Herschel Walker and both seemed destined to change the game.

In four years at Philadelphia High School (1978-81), Dupree rushed for 5,284 yards.

As a freshman at Oklahoma, he totaled 955 yards and was named the Fiesta Bowl MVP. Dupree tallied an unbelievable 239 yards in that game, despite missing almost two quarters with a pulled hamstring.

Dupree was living up to his legend. He decided to leave the Oklahoma program and transfer to Southern Mississippi in 1983.

Then, at the age of 19, Dupree joined the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL, signing a lucrative, long-term contract with the fledgling.

Unfortunately, knee injuries in 1985-86 took their toll on his once-promising career.

Still, Dupree persevered and earned a tryout with the Los Angeles Rams in 1990.

"My mind was never away from football, even after five years and I felt like playing for the Rams was the chance I needed," Dupree said.

Wearing No. 34 for the Rams, the same as Payton and Campbell, Dupree appeared in 15 games for the Rams in 1990-91. Injuries would eventually end his brief career at the age of 27.

"After that, I started a couple of businesses-a nightclub and a construction company," Dupree said. "I spent a lot of time with my sons, which was great. They were playing baseball in the summer and football and basketball in the fall and winter."

The urge to get back into the NFL surfaced for Dupree following a conversation a few years ago with former Redskins scout Melvin Bratton.

"Mel came to my golf tournament and we started talking about football," Dupree said. "He finally told me that if I wanted to get back into football, maybe scouting would be the way."

Dupree scouted for the Edmonton Eskimos and later became the General Manager of the Bossler City Battle Wings, an Arena2 League team.

Last summer, Dupree spoke with Redskins vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato, who eventually brought him to the organization. Dupree has been scouting college talent primarily on the West Coast.

"I think my tenacity helps, and the fact that I know athletes is a plus," he said. "To me, scouting can be like playing football in the backyard. You want to get the best player on your team. That's what I look at: Who can play and who can't."

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