Duke reeled in three star quarterback prospect Nicodem Pierre on Wednesday afternoon after the Florida product visited Durham unofficially. Pierre picked the Blue Devils over a number of big offers including Appalachian State, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida International, Kansas State, Louisville, Mississippi State, Nebraska, South Florida, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin.
Pierre is rated as the nation's No. 52 quarterback and a three star prospect. He is expected to redshirt and then enter the competition for the role of starting quarterback along with Thomas Sirk, Parker Boehme, and others.
WHO IS VISITING SOON?
Duke will welcome three players in the next few weeks for unofficial visits.
Commitment Zach Harmon is scheduled to visit with his parents on Saturday afternoon. Harmon committed to Duke back on May 12th. The 6-foot-4, 265 pound interior offensive lineman chose Duke over offers from Buffalo, Western Kentucky, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Marshall, Miami of Ohio, Toledo, and Western Kentucky.
Following the Harmon visit, Duke will welcome Plantation (Fla.) Heritage School standout Edgar Cerenord, a three star defensive tackle who measures out at 6-foot-2 and 285 pounds.
Cerenord has offers from East Carolina, Cincinnati, Indiana, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky, and Arkansas. Michigan State, West Virginia and Minnesota are all close to offering and showing heavy interest.
Duke has yet to offer in this one, but should the visit progress, an offer is a distinct possibility as Cerenord's tape has pushed Duke from the evaluation stage to full on pursuit, and now a visit. Despite all the offers, Cerenord says his and interest could have been higher but for some injuries:
"My highlight film would be a lot better had I been able to play in all of those games," he said. "I was hurt the majority of the year and really only played in three games for us. It was a bone fracture and I hyper-extended my knee that caused me to miss so much time."
The third visitor in the next week will be New Jersey tight end Mike Gesicki, who is rated as a three star prospect and the nation's No. 16 tight end.
Gesicki is has confirmed offers from several high majors, and was reportedly down to six programs - Miami, Florida State, Ohio State, Rutgers, Penn State, and Wisconsin - and, yet, Duke has secured a visit for next Tuesday, July 30.
It's easy to see why the prospect is in such high major demand, as Scout.com's Brian Dohn breaks down in this latest evaluation:
"He has very good hands and body control, and he can get down the field. He can block on the edge but will need to gain strength if he moves to tight end. He runs good routes and is a tremendous athlete. He will have to improve coming out of breaks, but he has very good feet so that will happen."
WHO TO WATCH - DEFENSE
The commitment of Pierre has reduced an already light allotment of scholarships by one. So who should Duke fans look to over the next few weeks and months? Right now here's the best bet:
- New Jersey TE/DE Kurt Holuba, a 6-foot-3, 235 pound athlete out of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic has spent the summer making a number of visits including trips to Wisconsin, Florida State, Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. Because of the volume of travel, the three star defensive end says he's not sure of favorites at this time:
"It's pretty much next to impossible (to have a favorite)," said Holuba. "Visiting each school, I keep thinking to myself that this is going to be a really hard decision because everyone I am looking at I really like. Everyone has good qualities and bad qualities, so it's going to be tough."
Holuba says he will take his five official visits before deciding.
- Defensive lineman Taariq Shabazz, a 6-foot-3, 250 pounder from Kennesaw, Ga., has named Duke his leader, and is expected to visit in the next month or so.
- Georgia defensive back Greg Stroman visited Duke last weekend, and says he will be looking to make a decision made in the next few weeks.
"I've got to talk to a few more coaches," he said. "But right now, I think it's down to UVa, (Virginia) Tech and Duke. They're all equal until I finish my visits."
Regarding Duke, Stroman says: "I like the academics and they're on the come up," he said. "Also, my mom likes Duke a lot."
What will be the deciding factors?
"Just where I feel most comfortable," he said. "Where I feel most comfortable living and where I feel most comfortable around the coaches."
Last season playing quarterback, Stroman threw for 2,038 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 1,138 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Stonewall Jackson opens their season on August 30 against Potomac.
- Buford (Ga.) DB Thomas Wilson visited Duke back on July 1st, and holds offers from Cincinnati, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. And while he's not tipping his hand on recruiting at the moment, he does have a plan.
"Right now I think everyone is kind of even for me, and I don't have any further visits planned at this time. I do believe that I will not be a Signing Day decision…instead I want to make my choice early on."
As for his impressions on Duke:
"Their main pitch is the value of a Duke degree, and the way things are and have changed at Duke. Getting a degree from there will set you up for the rest of your life, even if football doesn't work out. But, while you're there, you get to play very high level football as well."
WHO TO WATCH - OFFENSE
In addition to Gesicki, Duke is looking to continue to strengthen their passing game by adding top flight receivers. Chief among the potential prospects is Florida WR Trevon Lee.
Duke made an impression on Lee recently by sending him more than 100 letters - all hand-written:
"That recruiting tactic is all right with me," said Lee. "It definitely makes me feel as if a college is very interested in me. Honestly, I opened and read most of them, but not all."
The barrage of letters comes after Lee made the trip to Durham in early June for an unofficial visit - one in which he admits he learned a lot.
"They showed me much more love than I expected, and I have to say I loved everything about it."
So what exceeded his expectations?
"It was just the whole experience of going around and seeing the campus, the facilities, meeting everyone, and just soaking up the whole atmosphere. It was really great for me."
Lee is rated as the nation's 64th best receiving prospect, and a three star player by the Scout.com national recruiting team. He has many offers from a number of schools including Auburn, Boston College, California, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Illinois, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, USC, Vanderbilt, West Virgina, and Wisconsin. He has taken visits off and on, but claims no leader at this time.
- Big time, four star wide receiver Josh Malone (6'2 190) out of Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp High is considered the nation's 16th best wide receiver by Scout.com is Duke's "shoot for the stars" prospect in the class. Malone has offers from every program in the country, and says he'll make a decision near Signing Day.