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Marcus Dupree to Be Profiled in ESPN's 'The Best That Never Was'

Nov 9, 2010 – 11:07 AM
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FanHouse Staff

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If Marcus Dupree had been born 20 years later, he'd have been an Internet mega-celebrity. The former high school phenom, one of the most highly-recruited players in football history, would have seven-figure views on YouTube and message boards humming. But Dupree's stunning story came a little before that time.

The Internet generation will get to know Dupree and his story well, however, thanks to an ESPN "30 for 30" documentary called "The Best That Never Was," which is set to air Tuesday night.

Dupree was a Mississippi high school standout from 1978-1981, at the state's first integrated public school. As a freshman, he was able to run a 4.4 40-yard dash -- speed that turns heads in today's NFL. Throughout his entire high school career, he amassed 87 total touchdowns, breaking Herschel Walker's record. A crowd of thousands was on hand to witness his final high school game at a time before the NFL had taken over the American sporting landscape, let alone high school football.

As a result of his on-field performance, Dupree was recruited by every major high school program in the country, but decided to go to Oklahoma, beginning Dupree's fall from fame. His freshman season went remarkably well despite getting limited action in the season's first four games, with a remarkable Fiesta Bowl performance that year that saw him accumulate 239 yards on only 17 carries in an injury-hampered contest against Arizona State. Oklahoma went on to lose the game and coach Barry Switzer criticized Dupree. More injuries led to a very disappointing sophomore season, and a further falling out at Oklahoma caused him to want to transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi. When he was told he'd have to sit out a year, he simply left.

Dupree went on to play in the USFL and briefly in the NFL, but injuries continued to bother him and he never regained the form he had when he was younger. He retired in 1992.

Dupree was a joy for his Mississippi community, one of the iconic representatives of a new era of racial equality in the South.

"The Best That Never Was," directed by Jonathan Hock, premieres Tuesday on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.

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