Big Time Tenn OT Is A Duke Legacy

Ever since head coach David Cutcliffe took over the program the Blue Devils have done well in-state on the recruiting trail. Additionally, Duke has established a foothold in Tennessee. That trend seems to be continuing in 2012 as the program has a few Volunteer state prospects high on the recruiting board including a three star offensive tackle.

"I've heard from probably 50 schools," said three star offensive tackle Graham Shuler. "My major interests at this are BC, Duke, UGA, Vanderbilt, Auburn, GA Tech, Texas, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami, Penn St, UVA, Cinci, UCLA - but at the same time I'm still wide open."

Shuler, who plays for Brentwood (Tenn.) Acadamy, projects as one of the top overall prospects in the state of Tennessee from the class of 2012. At 270 pounds and blessed with good footwork and long arms, he's got enough versatility to play a number of positions as has been recruited at every position on the offensive line as well as a defensive tackle and even a five technique defensive end. It is that versatility that Shuler believes is one of his greatest strengths.

"I think I'm a very instinctual as a player. I'm aware of what's going on when I'm on the field and I understand the game. I'm confident in my abilities but I can always get better. My drive blocking was a ton better this year but I want to finish my guy (pancake) every block this year, not just most of the blocks. My sets were good but they can always get better, I'm working on my initial punch more as well as my footwork. I'm very fortunate to have the best high school coaches anywhere, especially my offensive line coach Jason Mathews who played in the NFL for 11 years (something like that), he has helped me take my game to a whole new level."

And while he has a number of strengths that will help him write his ticket into a college program and beyond, Shuler appears to be noticed by opposing coaches for other reasons.

"I've had many coaches tell me that I'm one of the few kids who shakes their hand firmly and meets them in the eye, my parents raised me to be very respectful of adults and that comes across when I talk with coaches. I'm not 6-foot-9 and 340 pounds, but I pass the eye test. In a sense of scouting like watching me play, I have no idea, I'm very critical of myself when I watch film so I'm not sure what a coach would be thinking, seems like they've liked what they've seen."

The Duke coaching staff certainly seems to like what they've seen, having gotten in early and hoping to play on some family ties as well.

"My dad is actually a Duke graduate. He went to grad school there and was a graduate assistant under Spurrier during his last year coaching. I have gotten to talk with a lot of their coaches and really like the staff. The campus is beautiful. I visited several years ago. The opportunity to have the best of both worlds - play competitive football for competitive coaches at a prestigious academic institution is very attractive to me. With the new facilities and modifications Coach Cut has on the way I'm pretty high on duke right now."

So what is the major Blue Devil recruiting pitch to Shuler at this point?

"For me early playing time isn't a big deal. I want what's best for the team I play for and I will bust my tail to be on the field, but if there is some one better there then they should play. But I'm confident in my abilities and know I can perform wherever I end up. The education is a major thing for me. Location to home is good, it's like a 50 minute flight and eight hour hour drive. I'm very fortunate to have been born into a situation where my dad has worked very hard and will be able to see me play wherever I decide to go."

As he prepares for the Spring recruiting season, Shuler has been putting in time in the weight room and preparing himself to show well at the various camps and visit he makes.

"I'm putting on weight easily and leaning out at the same time. My school isn't big on all the "max out" stuff but we are on our grind so far in off-season workouts. Individually I am having by far the best workouts I have had, and our team is really getting after it. I hit 315 pounds for six reps on bench last week but that was already several upper body sets into our workout. Squats I'm 315+ but that's 8-12 reps with multiple sets and pretty intense leg days."

"I've already visited Georgia and Georgia Tech this winter and during the season I went to Nebraska, Notre Dame, Auburn, Georgia, and Vanderbilt. I am excited to go up to Boston College and we will also head out to Duke. We will also go down to Auburn, down the street to Vanderbilt, and maybe up to Tennessee and then to Texas. We are also going to head over to Virginia and probably up to Cincinnati. Outside of those trips being penciled in, I would like to make trips to UCLA, Oregon, Penn State, and Miami."

Away from the field Shuler has wide variety of interests as well.

"I have a great core group of friends and I spend a ton of time with them. I write a lot, play video games, and I'm always listening to music. At this point in school I'm hitting the "ugh!" stage of wanting to be on spring break or in the heat of summer, but trying to push through it and really keep my grades where they belong. I enjoy British Literature and Anatomy."

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