Senior Class Recruiting Review

Four and five years later the recruiting hauls of 2010 and 2011 exceeded expectations and helped Duke establish a legit football program. Here's a look back at the offensive players' journey through Durham.

OFFENSE David Reeves
No. 51 TE in the Class of 2011

Reeves was considered the top tight end target in the state of Alabama and was one of the top commitments from the class of 2011. He chose Duke over offers from Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and South Florida. He redshirted during Duke’s 2012 season but has played the last two seasons, appearing in 39 games and making 25 starts - all in 2012 and 2014. In between he appeared in all 14 games last season, but was Duke’s top reserve behind Braxton Deaver.

Reeves’ best games game in some of the biggest moments. After spending most of 2013 as a blocking tight end for Duke, the then third year sophomore caught his only three balls of the season against Texas A&M in the Chic-fil-A Bowl, finishing with three catches for 38 yards and one touchdown. During his fourth year in Durham, Reeves has been more of passive receiving target, but he did catch the game winning touchdown against Virginia.

Jamison Crowder
No. 80 CB in the Class of 2011

To say Crowder outperformed his ranking would be a vast understatement. The former three-star North Carolina prospect who chose Duke over offers from UNC, East Carolina, and Wake Forest could very well become the ACC’s all-time leader in pass receptions depending on his performance in the bowl game.

Crowder played in all 12 games as a true freshman during the 2012 season, recording 14 catches for 163 yards. That included a preview of his playmaking ability when he scored his first college touchdown on a 45 yard pass from Sean Renfree against the Tar Heels. As a sophomore he took home honorable mention all-conference honors after posting 76 catches in 13 games (all as a starter) for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns. Ever the playmaker, the sophomore established ACC record and matched NCAA standard for longest pass reception with 99-yard effort from Renfree against Miami, and would eventually set the conference record for single season receiving yards by a sophomore. Things continued to progress a season ago as Crowder was named second team All-America selection as a punt returner by the Football Writers Association of America, Sports Illustrated and Phil Steele. That also included a nod as a first team All-ACC performer after the junior caught 108 passes for 1,360 yards (12.59) and eight TDs, rushed eight times for 71 yards (8.88) and one TD, returned 25 punts for 401 yards (16.04) and two TDs . Overall, Crowder’s junior season consisted of 1,832 all-purpose yards and saw him establish the ACC single-season record for pass receptions, bettering the previous standard of 98 set by Kenneth Moore of Wake Forest in 2007.

As a senior Crowder has battled some early season non-publicized injuries and being the focal point of opposing defenses. Still, he’s managed 78 catches for 942 yards and has returned 21 punts for 212 yards including a game changer against Syracuse that put Duke up for good in that contest.

Not only has he been good on the field, Crowder has also taken home numerous teamwork awards including the 2012 Micah Harris Trinity Teammate Award, an honor presented annually to the member of the Duke football program who displays the highest teammate qualities such as inspiration, unselfishness and commitment to the team. In 2013 he earned the Carmen Falcone Team MVP award.

Sam Marshall
No. 77 OG in the Class of 2011

Marshall was a late addition to the class of 2011, picking Duke over East Carolina, Louisville, NC State, and Virginia. Though he came to school listed as a defensive lineman, the 6-foot-7 prospect was best suited to move to offensive tackle, which he finally did a season ago. His first two seasons consisted of the usual redshirt year and then he appeared in seven games, recording four tackles during the early part of the schedule. He played just 27 snaps a season ago, but has appeared in all 12 games as a redshirt junior playing over 70.

Marcus Aprahamian
No. 65 OT in the Class of 2011

Picked Duke over Indiana, Minnesota, and Iowa State and was projected to factor in heavily at tackle in the coming seasons. However, after redshirting the 2011 season, Aprahamian played just 48 snaps in seven career appearances. He’s no longer listed on the team roster.

Carson Ginn
No. 201 DE in the Class of 2011

Came in as a defensive end, but quickly made the move to offensive line. During his first three seasons he appeared in eight games, playing 52 career snaps as a reserve interior offensive lineman. Played in seven games as a senior and provided depth to an offensive line that was, for most of the season, among the best in the conference.

Issac Blakeney
Unranked WR in the Class of 2010

Played both receiver and tight end during his career at Duke, with this final season ending as his best. After redshirting in 2010 and not seeing the field in 2011, Blakeney played in 39 games over the last three years, making 17 of those contests. Prior to his senior season, the former Monroe (N.C.) High product who chose Duke over East Carolina, had registered 51 catches for 534 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore and junior. After settling as a starting slot and then outside receiver this season, Blakeney has gone on to post 43 catches for 521 yards and six touchdowns - becoming a favorite deep ball target of Scottie Montgomery’s offense. His best game of the season game against Syracuse where he hauled in three catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns to help Duke beat the Orange on the road.

Laken Tomlinson
No. 23 OG in the Class of 2010

Tomlinson was the first recruit to turn down some some elite scholarship offers to attend Duke. Rated as one of the 25 best guards in the county in the class of 2010, Tomlinson chose the Blue Devils over Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue, and Northwestern during his junior season and stuck with Coach Cutcliffe’s program.

Since enrolling in 2010 and redshirting, there’s not much Tomlinson hasn’t done as he’s developed a reputation as one of the best interior linemen in America and is considered a potential second round pick by NFL Draft scouts. He’s also been an three time All-ACC selection, and has been a yearly candidate for All-American honors by the various national publications. Currently Tomlinson has made 51 consecutive starts for the Blue Devils up front, good enough for the active lead among NCAA FBS linemen. He’ll be participating in the 2014/15 Senior Bowl and has been named by CBS Sports as a midseason second team All-American. Tomlinson has played over 4,000 career snaps and has been a four year starter in Durham.

Off the field the senior has spoken of pursing a medical degree after his football playing days are done. He’s also been included on the Allstate American Football Coaches Association 2014 Good Works Team.

Takoby Cofield
No. 66 OG in the Class of 2010

Cofield picked Duke early in the process, committing to Coach Cutcliffe’s program over East Carolina and Virginia Tech. After the redshirt season in 2010, the Tarboro (N.C.) has been a staple alongside Tomlinson for the last four years on the left side of the line. He’s been a three year starter and has played in 50 career contests with 43 starts at left tackle and has played more than 3,150 snaps over the course of his career. He’s considered one of the top 40 offensive tackle prospects in the country according to various NFL Draft publications.

Joshua Snead
No. 95 RB in the Class of 2010

A former two star recruit, Snead picked Duke over Wake Forest at a time when the two programs were on different levels and with differing paths. Since that time he’s been a “starter” in Duke’s stable of running backs, and before the arrival of freshman Shaun Wilson, he was considered the most explosive back on the roster for three seasons. He’s the only back in Duke history to record more than 100 yards rushing in multiple bowl games, running for 104 yards against Texas A&M in the Chic-fil-A Bowl and 107 yards against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. All told, Snead has five career 100 yard games and has accounted for 1,767 yards and eight TDs in four seasons.

Anthony Boone
No. 105 QB in the Class of 2010

Perhaps the best recruiting story about Boone dates back to Signing Day, 2010. A number of analysts were convinced that the Charlotte area prospect would end up as a linebacker after choosing Duke over an offer from Illinois. Cutcliffe quickly rebuffed that during the Signing Day party and Boone slowly began working his way up the depth chart before finally taking over the starting gig a season ago.

The rest, of course, is history as Boone has posted a 19-3 regular season record as Duke’s starting signal caller, and a 19-5 overall record. He owns the program’s second highest winning percentage as a starter at .792. He also has the two best season for starting quarterback wins with nine each in 2013 and 2014. In addition he’ll finish sixth on Duke’s all-time completions list, and seventh on the all-time TD pass list, and will likely finish sixth on the all-time passing yards table.

OVERALL

The classes of 2011 and 2010 have been instrumental in establishing Duke as a legitimate program over the last five seasons. These two groups redshirted during the Blue Devils’ back-to-back 3-9 campaigns, but made their presence known during 2012’s run to the Belk Bowl. Duke finished that season at 6-7 overall, but it laid the groundwork for 2013’s historic run and this season’s follow up 9-3 mark.

Four seasons of eligibility with three, six, 10, and nine victories combined. That’s an average of 7 wins per season and will include three straight bowl berths. When they committed the talk was about “turning Duke around” and making “a” bowl game. It’s safe to say that this group of seniors did just a little bit more.


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