Polling the Experts: Duke in '05

As the National Letters of Intent begin to flow into the Yoh building, <i>TheDevilsDen.com</i> polls <i>Scout.com</i>'s experts on their opinions of this year's recruiting haul.

What are your overall impressions of Duke's class?

Don Callahan, Scout.com Regional Analyst: Duke's class of 2005 is without a doubt the best class they have signed since recruiting coverage became so prominent. It demonstrates the strides Coach Ted Roof and his staff have made with the program through their hard work.

Miller Safrit, Scout.com Regional Analyst: The class overall goes after needs at positions and tries to put talented bodies in place to play early. With a need for offensive talent, Duke picked up two quarterbacks, several running back and wide receivers while also paying close attention to the defensive line.

David Dohrmann, TheDevilsDen.com Football Analyst: On paper, this is Duke's best recruiting class since the late 80s. Ted Roof and the staff deserve a lot of credit for getting these guys to Duke considering the 2-9 record last season.

Who is the early on favorite to be named "Best player in the class"?

DC: Obviously you have to give the title of "Best Player in the Class" to The lone five-star recruit: Vince Oghobaase. In addition to an offer sheet that allowed him to go anywhere in the nation, Oghobaase has the potential to fit in the interior of either side of the line.

MS: Vince Oghobaase

DD: Without a doubt, defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase. Duke beat out some of the top programs in the country for his services, including Miami, Oklahoma, and Texas. He might be the best prospect to enter Duke at any position in a long time.

Player with the most 'upside'?

DC: With a 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame, and great feet, Ayanga Okpokowuruk has the most upside. He has the potential to fall into the mold of a Jevon Kearse.

MS: Quarterback Gene Delle Donne has the prototypical frame and a cannon for an arm that has the package coaches want to see. The question is how well Delle Donne responds to college coaching and how his accuracy improves on balls over 10 yards down the field.

DD: The player that will get the defensive line press is Oghobaase, but the other DT prospect, Joe Suder might end up just as good. He's the largest recruit in the ACC (6'7", 340 lbs), and moves very well for his size. Once he learns better technique, Duke might end up with two of the best DTs in the conference in a few years.

Where Duke did well in terms of filling needs:

DC: Obviously the defensive line where - at this point - seems to be the home of Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk, both highly recruited. The D-line is then backed up with Clifford Respress and sleeper Ryan Radloff.

MS: A defensive presence starts with the defensive line, just ask the Carolina Panthers, and that is where the Blue Devils really racked up this year With a combo of Vince Oghobaase, Ayanga Okpokowuruk, and Joe Suder, there is a nucleus of talent and potential that will be vital over the next four to five years.

DD: Duke has one of the better defensive line classes in the country, headlined by Oghobaase and 4-star defensive end Ayanga Okpokoworuk. These two guys could play for any team in D-1. With Suder and 3-star defensive ends Ryan Radloff and Clifford Respress, this was a stellar haul for the Blue Devils along the defensive front.

Where they could have done better?

DC: The Blue Devils needed to land a true tight end in this class, and failed to do so to a certain extent. However, a few prospects in this class could convert to tight end.

MS: I would like to have seen a few more guys picked up in the Secondary and linebackers to even out the class.

DD: The Devils missed out on a few offensive line prospects they were targeting. Georgia tackle Paul Duncan (Notre Dame) was one guy the staff really wanted, but was unable to sign. Also, Duke was in early on a couple of 4-star linebackers (Adam Leonard and E.J. Savannah), but ended up with a few less-heralded but talented guys.

Which "Sleeper" prospect could make noise at Duke.

DC: Kinney Rucker is the biggest sleeper. Not sure how he flew under the radar, but Rucker has a ton of raw ability. The biggest question is where to play him at the next level as he has the potential to play several different positions depending on how he develops.

MS: Kinney Rucker has really beefed up this year and has a ton of athleticism in that new frame. While a bit undersized height-wise, he could still use a low center of gravity to enter early and earn some playing time.

DD: One of the best ACC recruiting stories of this year belongs to Duke WR prospect Raphael Chestnut. He was a complete unknown when he showed up at Duke's summer camp. He proceeded to run a 4.45 40, caught everything in sight in the passing drills, and walked away with a scholarship offer. He has good size, flypaper hands, and an aggressive attitude, which should make him successful at the college level.

Which player is most ready to contribute

DC: By August, Vince Oghobaase will be the most ready to contribute recruit. The five-star prospect has a step up on most of his peers as he has already enrolled, and figures to take part in spring practice. Regardless, Oghobaase is a big physical lineman, who already has the fundamentals down.

MS: No question that Vince Oghobaase is the guy that should see the field early. With his combo of talent and early enrollment, his pass to playing this fall is nearly guaranteed. However, he cannot rest on just talent alone, and will need to continue to work on adding some weight to his frame to become the five-star dominant player at the next level.

DD: I will go with kicker Joe Surgan and linebacker Paul Thornton. Surgan has a cannon leg and good accuracy. Considering the struggles of the Duke kicking game in 2004, it will be a surprise if he's not teeing it up against ECU. Thornton played in a very tough HS conference in Texas. He has good size and is very fundamentally sound. He might not have the "upside" of some of the others, but he should contribute right away.


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