The job facing Delle Donne and the current crop of prospects being pursued by head coach Ted Roof and his staff is certainly daunting with Duke suffering through a number of losing and winless seasons in the past decade under departed coach Carl Franks.
However a change in the head coaches' office has sparked a change in the general attitude surrounding the Blue Devils' football program, which was too much for Delle Donne to over look despite being considered one of the top 150 prospects in the country according to some recruiting services.
"I was very impressed with Coach Roof and his energy, and the staff he has assembled there is probably one of the top groups in the country. I really enjoyed talking with coach Galbraith and learning how he sees the offensive scheme taking shape. Also the facilities they have down there are just incredible – much nicer than I expected them to be, and of course the campus is one of the best in the country."
So while Delle Donne was sold on Duke, he wasn't the only one as highly rated Charlotte (N.C.) Independence quarterback Joe Cox had verballed to the Blue Devils just a few days before Gene was scheduled to be on campus. While some believed that Cox's decision could push Delle Donne away, it actually was a selling point for the 6-foot-5, 225 pounder.
"That wasn't anything that bothered me," said Gene. "I know that I'm going ot have to compete where ever I go, and this isn't any different. I don't want anything handed to me – I want to work for it, and to compete against the best will only make be that much better."
Still Delle Donne will enter Duke with high expectations from both fans and the Duke coaching staff.
"They told me that I would have a chance to play very early if I continue to work hard and play like I am capable. They see the offense being build around the quarterback like Chad Pennington at Marshall and Phillip Rivers at N.C. State. That's something that was very appealing to me, but I know I need to keep working."
So does Delle Donne believe that Duke can provide a stepping stone for him to get to the NFL as the Thundering Herd and Wolfpack did for Pennington and Rivers?
"There's no doubt in my mind that it could happen there. I believe it's all about the kind of people you have teaching you, and Coach Roof has assembled the best. If I work hard it could happen."
While many other coaches had hoped to get Delle Donne on campus for camps in order to try and sway his commitment, that won't be happening.
"I'm only going to camp at Duke this year. I ‘ll be there from June 11th through the 13th to get a chance to work out with Coach Knotts and learn what I need to work on. It'll be a good chance to get a feel for him on the field."
Now with Cox and Delle Donne firmly entrenched under center for the next four seasons, the Blue Devil coaching staff has told the duo that the recruiting priorities now shift positions, and that any recruiting help is welcomed by the talented signal callers.
"They told me they are going to focus on lineman and receivers now. I'm certainly going to try and talk to some of the guys at the camp and sell Duke a little bit."
Delle Donne also added that he wants to wear #10 over the next four years at Duke.