Last year, Detric Bing-Dukes wasn’t sure he would ever play college football at a major program again. He had transferred from a Georgia team with a surplus of linebackers after his freshman season and had gone to Iowa Western Community College to continue his football career.
“I had to step off on faith, and that was the craziest thing,” Bing-Dukes said. “I didn’t know where I was going to end up but what I knew was that I wanted to work hard and I wanted to prove to myself that I could play this game at a high level.”
Originally, Bing-Dukes was set on going to Middle Tennessee State and finishing his final three years of college football eligibility there, but he narrowly missed out on the academic requirements to enroll there. When his plans fell through, National Signing Day had already passed and it was unclear where Bing-Dukes would play the next season.
What was originally misfortune turned into a blessing for Bing-Dukes, as Ole Miss still had a hole to fill at linebacker after signing day and offered him a spot on the team.
Bing-Dukes joined the team in the summer, so his time to learn the Ole Miss defense was limited.
“It was a learning curve,” Bing-Dukes said. “When I went to JUCO at Iowa Western, we ran a similar defense, but the biggest thing that I had to get used to was playing out in space.”
After Alabama rushed for 334 yards against the Rebels, Head Coach Hugh Freeze and Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack felt a change had to be made in the linebacker rotation to prepare for Georgia and their running attack.
“That Sunday, Coach Wommack told me I was going to run with the ones so I had time to get my mind right and to prepare,” Bing-Dukes said.
Bing-Dukes hadn’t seen much time in his first three games, but Wommack felt it was time for him to get a shot, especially with it being against the Bulldogs.
“I knew it’d be a special game for him, and he had a good week of practice,” Wommack said. “Been trying to get a bigger, more physical guy in there for situations, and this game dictated it.”
Bing-Dukes said he did think about playing against his former team but didn’t focus on it too much.
“It gave me the extra oomph that I needed when I stepped on the field, but other than that I was focused on the game plan and focused on finishing,” Bing-Dukes said.
On Ole Miss’ very first defensive play, Bing-Dukes was there to bring down the ball carrier. He finished second on the team with seven total tackles on the day.
“I was just preparing myself all throughout camp, just praying and waiting for my chance and I finally got it and I felt like I made the best of it,” Bing-Dukes said.
Wommack said that Bing-Dukes played well and commended how much he’d worked on his assignments and the other mental aspects of the game since arriving on campus.
“He’s really worked at it. He’s worked at the fundamentals of it, the knowledge of the game and gone out and improved his skill level,” Wommack said.
This weekend, Bing-Dukes will face another challenge against the Memphis Tigers, who run a pass-heavy offense that is very different from the run-oriented offense he faced in his first start. Bing-Dukes felt a few adjustments could help the linebacking corps succeed against the Tigers.
“Obviously we need to fit better, fit our gaps and communicate,” Bing-Dukes said. “I feel like the more we communicate, the better we will be.”