A Big Start To Class of 2016

For the third straight season the Blue Devils are going bowling, and the team controls its own destiny for another berth in Charlotte for the ACC Championship game. That success seems to be translating in a big way on the recruiting trail in the class of 2016.

THE HAUL SO FAR

TE Mark Birmingham -

WR Scott Bracey -

RB Elijah Deveaux -

Duke has landed three very early commitments from the current junior class, two of which are considered to be among the best 190 players in the country regardless of position according to Scout.com

Bracey is considered the No. 21 wide receiver in the country, and the No. 98 overall player. Meanwhile, Birmingham is rated as the nation’s No. 9 tight end, but the No. 188 overall player int he country.

Elijah Deveaux is not nationally rated at this point, but has a three star designation from the network.

THE OFFER SHEETS

Recruiting rankings are subjective as some evaluators value certain components over others. And while our national recruiting staff gets it right more often than not, there is another way to measure how good a prospect could be. It’s simple, really…you just track the other schools who offered a scholarship.

It’s a case of dealing with extremes when evaluating players who are more than a year from being able to sign their letters of intent, but in Duke’s case all three commitments were highly sought after.

Bracey picked the Blue Devils over 28 other offers including Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and Washington.

As for Birmingham, he picked Duke over Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Deveaux selected the Blue Devils over Boston College, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, NC State, Pittsburgh, and Wake Forest.

SCOUTING REPORTS

“Deveaux is a powerful runner, who looks to have added 15 to 20 pounds of muscle over the last year. Despite adding the weight, he actually looked to be quicker and was very fluid this season. Deveaux also proved to be a dependable receiver out of the backfield, running good routes and catching the ball away from his body.” - Michael Clark, Scout.com regional analyst

“Deveaux is a back with a good base. He displays good lowerbody strength and the ability to get yards after initial contact. He is a bigger back, but shows a finesse side as well. More of a quick back than a fast back and he can improve his explosiveness and break away speed. Has the ability to run inside or on the perimeter. Shows good patience.” - Chad Simmons, National Recruiting Director.

“Birmingham is a matchup nightmare at tight end . He showed the ability to line up tight or split out wide. He is very physical and athletic. Birmingham runs crisp routes and has soft hands. He has the ability to go across the middle and make the tough catch or stretch the field. He is one of the top tight ends in the 2016 class.” - Michael Clark, Scout.com regional analyst

“Bracey is a big, physical wide receiver. He is a fluid athlete and with good speed. Bracey does a nice job of attacking the football in the air and catching it away from his body. Bracey can beat his opponents deep, but will also go across the middle and make the tough catch. Overall, his future is very bright and his best football is definitely ahead of him.” - Michael Clark, Scout.com regional analyst

“They all have college-ready frames and will likely contribute immediately and ultimately become major weapons for Duke on offense.” - Clark on the entire class.

WHY IS IT HAPPENING?

Ever since he came to Duke, David Cutcliffe has worked to erase the stigma of years of poor program maintenance. From there the Blue Devil head coach began to establish a unique brand for his team. That seems to be taking hold now as the coaches have begun to target better and better players.

Towards the end of the 2015 recruiting class the Blue Devils landed four star outside linebacker Ben Humphreys and three star tight end Tyler Petite. And the Blue Devils are in the hunt for four star running back Nyheim Hines as well as Johnny Frasier, both four star prospects.

So what has changed in Durham? How are the coaches landed better players more often?

“Duke has done a very god job of identifying their type of player on the recruiting trail in recent years,” said Scout.com national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons. “I like the type of player they go after. Going to a place like Griffin High School in Georgia and getting a commitment from Keyston Fuller is something that could pay off now and in the future. Griffin always has players and Fuller could shine very early at Duke.”

“I like how they are recruiting against bigger schools and offering more that are being recruiting by top ACC and SEC schools. The coaches sell their program well, what Duke has to offer, and I only hear great things from prospects and parents about David Cutcliffe.”

Further evidence the brand has taken hold is to evaluate it on the national level. So, we asked West Coast Recruiting Director Brandon Huffman what he sees from the Blue Devils on the left side of the map.

“Duke has been very good on the recruiting trail out West,” said Huffman. “They have commitments in the 2015 class from Reno Rosene, Aaron Young, Ben Humphreys and Tyler Petitte, and have beaten out several Pac-12 powers for them.”

“Under David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have been aggressive and active out West, recruiting players from key programs (like Mater Dei in Santa Ana and Oaks Christian in Westlake Village), and they’ve done a terrific job of identifying key players early, before other schools jump in, staying on them, and continuing to go toe-to-toe with schools out West who’ve recruited these programs longer. I don’t see it slowing down in the 2016 or 2017 class either."

Closer to home Duke is taking care of business as well from what Regional analyst Michael Clark says.

“Duke has done a tremendous job on the recruiting trail lately. Getting commitments from prospects of this caliber during their junior seasons is a credit to coach Cutcliffe and his staff. I think they will keep the momentum going and expect the 2016 class to be one the best in school history.”



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