The Blue Devils have once against landed a very good recruiting class - perhaps the best of the Coach Cutcliffe era at Duke. Here’s our take on the class and the top takeaways from following the group from the first commit up to signing day.
THE BIGGEST GETS:
1. Ben Humphreys - One of the best 130 players in the country regardless of position, Humphreys is unquestionably the crown jewel of the recruiting class. He committed in July of last summer and remained firm with the Blue Devils throughout the process and helped raise not only his own personal stock, but also the stock of the Duke recruiting class by performing well in both his senior season at traditional power Mater Dei High and then in the US Army All-American game practices and game.
2. T.J. Rahming - Much like Humprheys, Rahming first solidified and then improved his recruiting stock at the US Army All-American game. He’s a smallish receiver who will need to add some weight, but he’s got speed and quickness enough to make a push to play very early at Duke.
3. Keyston Fuller - Fuller is another speedster from Georgia who had a very healthy offer sheet before ultimately picking Duke. He could end up playing either receiver or defensive back in Durham and he has the ability to excel at either.
THE BIGGEST MISSES:
1. Johnny Frasier - Rated as one of the best players in the state of North Carolina, and the best running back in the state, Frasier made serious attempts to be recruited and Duke worked hard on their half as well. As a big and powerful back, Frasier would have been be a star in Durham, but it simply couldn’t happen despite a desire from both sides.
2. Nyheim Hines - Similarly, Duke was there until the end for Hines, a four star running back who was among the top 10 players in the state regardless of position. At the end of the day, Hines would have translated as a slot player similar to Shaun Wilson and was a top prospect. However, it became obvious he was a package deal with his sister, an all-state track athlete and the pair ended up in Raleigh.
3. Tyler Petite - Committed to Duke over Southern Cal before moving back to a Trojan commitment after his high school season. Petite was a top 200 overall player and one of the best tight ends in the country. Duke’s loss, however, was mitigated very soon with the commitment of a higher rated player in 2016, Mark Birmingham.
RB Misses: As noted above, the Blue Devils had a great chance to not only land a huge amount of talent in the offensive backfield, but also the top of the talent pool in state. The latter would have allowed Duke to make big statement that Coach Cutcliffe’s program has not only arrived, but is the program in-state. However, for various reasons, Duke struck out on the top two, and the Blue Devils were also unable to take another in-state prospect, Reggie Gallaspy - a powerfully built three star back.
Lack of In-State presence: Before the commitment of defensive end Twazanga Mugala at the very end of the cycle the loan Duke commit from North Carolina was punter Austin Parker. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, but recruiting class resulted in a move away from the building from within mentality Duke had employed for the first several seasons of the Cutcliffe era. There’s already a big push for Duke to establish itself in-state in the class of 2016 and Cutcliffe’s already landed one of the best running backs in the rising junior class in Elijah Deveaux.
BEST BETS TO PLAY AGAINST Tulane
We’d expect to see at least Humphreys and one of Rahming or Fuller lining up against the Green Wave in the season opener. Other potential players could include Joe Giles-Harris and, perhaps Jeremy McDuffie if he’s healthy.
WHAT IS NEEDED NEXT
Going forward the two positions of need are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Head coach David Cutcliffe has said that the best way to immediately improve a football team is to generate a pass rush by added big time interior defensive linemen. Duke will continue to pursue that need with the rising senior class.
Duke will also look to add another big time quarterback with the priority being more skewed towards pro-style passers who are taller than some of the commits the Blue Devils have landed in recent seasons.
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