MILFORD — Just a few years ago, you would have found Desmond Aladuge on Milford’s soccer field, not its football one.
But even as a middle-school soccer goalie, the youngster’s size and athletic ability were hard to miss.
Aladuge had played football growing up in Chicago. After playing soccer for three years, he switched back to the sport as a freshman at Milford High.
“Most of my friends were football players,” said Aladuge, who moved to Milford when he was in fifth grade. “They were like, ‘Man, you should be playing football Dez.’ I was like, ‘I’ll just give it a try.’”
Aladuge had no idea then where that choice would take him.
Last Friday, the Milford senior-to-be announced that he has verbally committed to play football at Duke University. The Blue Devils see the 6-foot-5, 248-pound lineman as a defensive end for their ACC program.
It was much more than Aladuge’s athletic potential that had so many colleges offering him scholarships, however. His unweighted 3.9 GPA in the classroom also helped earn Aladuge scholarship offers from most of the Ivy League as well as several Division I FBS programs.
“Just being able to play for a Power Five program is very exciting — and get a great education,” said the 17-year-old. “It was probably the balance between the football and the education. Duke is almost like an Ivy League-level education. ... In the end I feel like Duke is the best fit for me.”
Aladuge’s goal right now is to get a law degree and become an attorney. He credits his parents for helping him understand the value of a good education.
“Grades have always been important to me,” said Aladuge. “My parents have really shown me from day one how much grades matter. I just took it with me.”
Milford said it’s exciting to see good things happening for a student-athlete with so much potential.
Aladuge starts at both defensive end — where he was a second-team All-Class 2A District III selection in 2021 — and offensive tackle for the Buccaneers. He even did some place-kicking because of an injury last fall.
“He’s a great kid, a phenomenal student,” said Strickland. “The recruiting was unbelievably easy for a guy like Dez. Coaches don’t have to worry — you have the grades, you have the tools.
“Once you’re getting accepted to schools like Princeton and Harvard, those other schools get wind of that. It makes it easier for them to take a look.”
On the football field, Strickland said there’s a lot to like about Aladuge, as well.
“The kid’s just got a motor,” said Strickland. “He just goes and goes and goes. He never came off the field for us.”
With his high school senior season still in front of him, Aladuge knows he’s going to have to work even harder to be a success in college. At Duke, he’ll be going up against some of the highest-level college football players in the country.
But the prospect of pushing himself even more is exciting for Aladuge.
“I love to work out, I love to get better,” he said. “Just knowing that I’m going to make that progress when I get to the next level is very exciting.”
Two of Milford’s other six seniors are also potential college scholarship players. Both receiver A.J. Kravitz and defensive back Ryan Mejia are being recruited and making the rounds of college showcase camps. “They’ll definitely both be signing, it’ll just be a matter of where,” said Strickland.
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 302-741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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