Signing Day Superlatives: Defense

TDD reviews the defensive side of the ball for the class of 2011 and offers opinions

The Blue Devils welcome back six starters on the defensive side of the ball which means this year's crop of newcomers may very well be given a redshirt season. So which players should you keep an eye on heading into the summer sessions? Who may have an inside track at playing as a true freshman? Who will become the foundation for the defense in the years to come? Which defensive players were the biggest "gets"? Which under the radar commits will burst onto the scene? TDD offers our picks below.

Defensive Players - Signing Day Superlatives:

Biggest Commitment: And not just in size alone…Virginia product Sam Marshall has tremendous size (6'7, 250) for a defensive line prospect. In fact most schools projected Marshall to play offensive tackle, but a few including Duke, Virginia, and Louisville saw Marshall on the defensive side of the ball. That perception was rammed home at Duke's summer camp where Marshall was "un-blockable" according to Cutcliffe. "I feel like my size and reach really allows me to match up well against opposing tackles," Marshall told TDD. He'll need to get stronger during a redshirt year, but the buzz around the Yoh center is that Marshall could be a high level contributor sooner than later.

Special teams have been an area of priority for the Blue Devils over the last few years which is why Georgia's Will Monday is such a huge pickup for Duke. Considered the best in the country at his position, Monday has shown the ability to drive opponents back with distance, and to pin them deep within their own territory with his accuracy. He's also shown the ability to handle kick-offs and even placekicking (on and off a tee).

Honorable Mention: Mario Sanders was among the first to commit to Duke and the 6'5 220 pounder stayed firm even after a big senior season brought other schools calling. The Blue Devil offer came after a stellar summer camp performance where he continually won his one on one drills and then carried that momentum into his final high school session. It's not a stretch to think that Sanders could end up playing around 6'5 and 255-260 pounds after a redshirt season.

Most Likely To Be Seen In 2011: Aside from Will Monday, Jared Boyd is our pick as the most likely to be seen in 2010. A terrific return man in high school, Boyd isn't huge (5'9, 165) but knows how to hit and has the innate ability to "ball hawk" in the secondary. Another potential special teamer is Tim Burton who clocked the fastest speed times in camp and comes to Duke with the reputation of an explosive playmaker who can change direction with ease.

Honorable Mention: If he's as productive as his brother, look for Kyler Brown to break into the linebacking rotation before the end of 2011. Another big and rangy player from Charlotte, the younger Brown is an extremely strong linebacker with the ability to cover a lot of grown quickly. He's got the potential to end up as a 6'5, 250 pound linebacker, though if he continues to grow he may end up with his hand on the ground at defensive end.

Biggest Steal of the Class: He missed a good amount of time during the summer recruiting season, but Atlanta area safety Chris Tavarez has the potential have a big five years in Durham. Described by Cutcliffe as one of the best blitzing players from the secondary in the class, Tavarez. He played linebacker for Westlake as a senior, but will move to the full-time safety role when he arrives at Duke.

Honorable Mention: He's already enrolled and it appears as though the Blue Devils have high hopes for Jonathan Woodruff, a 6'3 215 pound linebacker out of Maryland. Spring Practice will go a long way towards getting an idea of his readiness and how he's adjusting to the college game, but when an outside linebacker has a 4.58 forty time on record, it's hard not to get excited.

Complete Defensive Recruiting Class Breakdown:
DT: Lucas Fisher(6'4, 255)?DE: Sam Marshall (6'7, 255); Mario Sanders (6'5, 215)?
OLB: Kyler Brown (6'4, 215); Britton Grier (6'1, 185); David Helton (6'3, 215); Jonathan Woodruff (6'2, 215)?
CB: Jared Boyd (5'9, 185); Tim Burton (5'10, 170)
S: Chris Tavarez (5'11, 187)
P: Will Monday (6'4, 185)

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