Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough running back Michael Duclos returns from major injury

Running back Michael Duclos was having the game of his life against Lennard.

On the night of Oct. 4, 2013 — a week removed from Robinson ending a four-game skid — Duclos had already carried the ball 12 times for 110 yards and a touchdown. On No. 13, he saw the hole at the line of scrimmage closing. Five defenders converged on him, the first went low, the rest piled on. It was hardly an atypical situation for the bulldozing Duclos, no stranger to dragging would-­be tacklers for extra yards. The aftermath, however, was.

"I knew at the time I had injured (my knee), but I didn't think much of it, even on the way home," said Duclos, now a senior at Hillsborough High. "It wasn't until I was home, sitting down and my knee just gave out — that's when I knew it was something bad."

Duclos went to two doctors. The first said he was done with football; the next said he could make it back. What they both agreed on was that Duclos had suffered an "unhappy triad" — tearing of all three major knee ligaments, the ACL, MCL and meniscus. The news was devastating to the junior.

"I just felt blank," Duclos said. "I couldn't think of what to do next."

Duclos' older brother, Carlos, a 2013 Robinson graduate, lost his junior season to a similar knee injury. "It was going through my head what happened to Carlos. It happened to both of us our junior year," he said.

Last season was supposed to be Duclos' breakout year after playing behind Youngstown State and Missouri Valley Newcomer and Freshman of the Year Martin Ruiz in 2012.

"Michael was an absolute beast," former Robinson head coach Mike DePue said. "He's the type of kid that will get his shoulders square and bowl people over. And once he's through the hole, he can run away from people or he's going to truck them."

Expectations were high for Duclos, but with little highlight film from his junior year, his chances of landing scholarship offers were in peril. To date, the 5-foot-9, 205-pounder has no college offers.

"If you lose that (junior season tape), it can be devastating for kids," DePue said. "It's not a make-or-break, but it definitely puts you behind the eight ball."

Duclos is quick to point out that he never cried about his plight, even when his comeback chances seemed slim.

"I remember just trying to straighten my leg — I can't even explain the pain trying to straighten and then stretch my leg," he said.

But he attacked his rehabilitation effort with the same intensity he attacked would-be tacklers.

"Every workout, I would push myself to the limit," Duclos said. "I threw up after at least half of my training sessions."

The perseverance paid off. When Duclos transferred to Hillsborough over the summer, he immediately nabbed the title of strongest guy on the team after bench-pressing 325 pounds.

"He understands football and is extremely coachable," running backs coach Alonzo Ashwood said. "And no one is going to outwork him."

Duclos' return to the field Sept. 5 — Hillsborough's season opener — against district rival Jefferson should be a boon for a Terriers offense that had trouble moving the ball on the ground in a preseason win over Clearwater.

"(Duclos) brings a between-the-tackles presence like we haven't had here in a while," Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said. "He's also got pretty good hands and could be an every-down back for us."

Hillsborough running back Michael Duclos returns from major injury 08/28/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 28, 2014 10:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Gordon Hayward's message to Celtics from hospital bed after gruesome injury


    BOSTON — Gordon Hayward's face was etched in pain and shock.

    Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics sits on the floor after being injured while playing the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on October 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. [Gregory Shamus | Getty Images]
  2. Rick and Tom podcast: Where does Winston rank among top QBs?


    Where does Bucs QB Jameis Winston rank among current NFL QBs this year? The result might shock you. Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down a new poll by Sports Illustrated in their latest podcast.

    Where does Jameis Winston rank among the NFL's top quarterbacks?
  3. Epilogue: USF's Mike Radomski made thank-yous a way of life


    TAMPA — He was a sucker for baseball and benevolence. Mike Radomski tracked every gesture, regardless of how noble or benign, as meticulously as pitch counts in his volumes of scorebooks.

    Assistant director of communications Mike Radomski, who primarily served as the media liaison for men's basketball but also worked with several other Bulls sports, died shortly after 1 a.m. Oct. 12, 2017 in a car accident on Interstate 75 near his Wildwood home. He was 29. PHOTO PROVIDED.
  4. Cubs down Dodgers 3-2; force NLCS Game 5 Thursday


    CHICAGO — Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, former Ray Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

  5. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.