Previewing the Class of 2004: Offense

With the 2004 recruiting season finished, it is time to take a breath and look back at the last few months. The Devils inked 24 players to this years' class. While Duke did miss out on some blue-chippers, the players they did sign constitute what will probably be Duke's best recruiting class in some time. Lets take a position-by-position look at how they will fit in to the future of Duke Football. First up: The Offense.

Running Backs (3):

Ronnie Drummer
Tim Ball
Justin Boyle

With the graduation of Chris Douglas and Alex Wade, Duke was left with little depth at running back. The only returning backs with a single carry to their names are sophomore Cedric Dargan and true freshman Aaron Fryer. The staff recruited this position in earnest and came up with three players, all with slightly different skill sets. Drummer is a California state track champion, and could be the fastest player in Duke football history. He will have to gain significant weight to see full-time duty in the backfield, but he has one thing you can't teach, speed. He probably will see time as a 3rd down back, and will probably return punts and kicks. Tim Ball is more of a straight-line power runner who is solid between the tackles. He is a good all-around athlete who is fast (4.44 40) and explosive (34.5" vertical jump), so he can get it done around the corner as well. Boyle is an interesting story. When Duke under Carl Franks was recruiting him, he was being courted to play linebacker. Due to injury, Boyle was forced to play only running back during his senior season. He ended up having a spectacular year running the ball, and many schools took notice. After Roof took over the program, Duke basically re-recruited Boyle as a running back. He has great vision, good speed, and is an absolute nightmare to bring down because of his power and excellent balance. I could see Boyle in the backfield early in his Duke career. All 3 running backs were excellent defensive players in high school as well. Ball and Boyle were outstanding linebackers and Drummer was a highly regarded cornerback. All 3 could play on the other side of the ball if needed, but at least two will stay on offense.

Wide Receiver (4):

Corey Thompson
Ryan Wood
Jomar Wright
Chancellor Young

This is the position where Duke needed the biggest talent upgrade. Duke has some capable player on the outside, but they are all (save Deon Adams) less than 6 feet tall. This caused problems in 2003, as opposing defensive backs were able to manhandle the smaller Duke receivers at the line of scrimmage. Duke really made out like a bandit here. The most heralded recruit of the class, Chancellor Young, has a chance to start from day one. His combination of size (6'2" 205) and speed (4.3 40 time) is something no other current Duke receiver has. There are still a few adjustments that Young will have to make. He will need to prove that he can block downfield, and consistently beat press coverage. With his size and ability, it will be surprising if he isn't able to do both. Not to be outdone, Corey Thompson and Jomar Wright will also compete for playing time early. Thompson has good height and breakaway speed, but is thin and might need time to get stronger before reaching his potential. Wright carries a bit more weight than Thompson, but still is not as developed as Young in this capacity. All 3 should make a significant impact by 2005, if not sooner. Ryan Wood is more of a project. He has good size and solid hands. He is not, however, nearly as athletic as the other three. Still, he has the chance to develop into a solid possession receiver for the Devils.

Tight End (1):

Patrick Bailey

Bailey really came on like gangbusters during his senior season. At the start of the year, he was lightly recruited with Rice as his only offer. By the time January rolled around, he had offers from Duke, Notre Dame, and Purdue. He's a little light, but is an amazing athlete whose speed (sub 4.5 40) will cause matchup problems for most linebackers and safties. His biggest issue will be wrestling playing time from the tight ends currently on the roster. Expect him to Redshirt in 2004. If he gains lots of weight (and I'm told that he has the frame to do so), a move to defensive end is not out of the question.

Offensive Line (6):

Izzy Bauta
Cameron Goldberg
Fred Roland
Matt Rumsey
Rob Schirrman
Jonathan Terry

This was the number one recruiting priority for the Devils. With four 5th year seniors graduating in 2003, and through attrition the past two years, Duke was left with 8 scholarship offensive linemen going into the 2004 season. Duke definitely filled the glaring lack of depth with six recruits. While most true freshman offensive linemen redshirt to bulk up, Duke will probably have to play one or two because of the lack of depth. Jon Terry and Izzy Bauta are probably the two most likely candidates to play right away. They are the most physically developed as this point. They both also project as guards, which is an easier position to play early if you have the requisite strength. Terry is a large mauler, who is probably the strongest recruit in the state of North Carolina. Bauta was offered by Ohio State and Maryland, and is also has the size to play early. Goldberg will play tackle for the Devils and probably has the best star potential of the line recruits. He is a great natural athlete and a big frame to put on the requisite weight. Roland is a large right tackle prospect who earned all-state honors in Georgia. Rumsey figures to play center, and Schirmann will most likely line up at guard.

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