Year Three Report Card: Defense

The class of 2007 represents the third full recruiting haul for Duke head coach and his staff. The first class (2005) had the star power, while the second class was probably the best overall group to be recruited. So how does the defensive class of 2007 fit in? Perfectly.

Many Blue Devil fans have heard the level of recruiting has certainly picked up for Duke in the last three classes, but a true understanding of this change is best illustrated with a depth chat composed only of players that were recruited by Roof's staff - which would mean the class of 2005-2007.

TheDevilsDen.com has compiled that list and linked it below:

Duke Recruiting Under Ted Roof

While it's clear that recruiting rankings are only a part of the equation in determining if a group of players will ultimately be successful at the collegiate level, the rating system employed by Scout.com is certainly a good reference point for making such an evaluation.

Over the past three seasons the Blue Devils have recruited at least one player to every position on the defensive side of the field - with several positions of need being filled by highly rated recruits - the most notable being the defensive tackle position where former five star prospect Vince Oghobaase lines up.

With the Duke defense likely returning to a classic 4-3 defensive scheme beginning in 2007, the Blue Devils' early successes on the recruiting trail under Ted Roof and his staff should begin paying dividends this year.

The hallmark of the 4-3 scheme is the ability to pressure the quarterback - something the Blue Devils have simply not been able to do in recent seasons. Without the ability to pressure opposing passers, the Duke secondary has been thrust into the spotlight with mixed results. While John Talley certainly made a name for himself with several interceptions and subsequent All-ACC nods, the truth of the matter is Duke was vulnerable - something that needs to change for the Blue Devils to start winning.

The defensive line has been the most productive recruited position according to the Scout.com rankings over the past three seasons. Roof started his reign off with a huge bang in the form of Oghobaase, the highest rated recruit to ever sign with the Blue Devils. Though he's the only former five star player on the roster, VO has been joined by several highly sought players including former four star defensive ends Ayanga Okpokowuruk (2005) and Tyler Rice (2006). Other notable commitments included former three star linemen Clifford Respress, Ryan Radloff, and Wesley Oglesby. In 2007 Duke added a player in Eriks Reks that has drawn comparisons to current starting rush end Patrick Bailey. The other down lineman in the current crop is Ohio's Charlie Hatcher, who projects as an interior addition to the roster.

The linebacking corps hasn't been as highly rated as other positions, but the results have been extremely good. In 2005 the Blue Devils brought in Mike Tauiliili from Texas as one of the last members of the class. All he did was earn First Team Freshman All-American honors in 2005. In 2006 Duke brought in the highest rated MLB to date in former prep schooler and three star prospect Vincent Rey. One the outside, Duke hasn't brought in the high star level of other positions, but has increased the position's overall speed and tackling ability with players such as Paul Thornton and this year's additions of Adam Banks and Justin Wilkerson. Going forward it's likely Duke will continue shopping for highly rated players for the linebacking group.

Conversely, the recruiting at the cornerback position has been among the best results over the past three seasons. Beginning in 2005 with the commitment of the nation's No. 48 overall cornerback, Glenn Williams, Duke has made a conscience effort to deepen that stable of players. In 2006 Duke brought in two more highly rated players in Leon Wright (No. 62 CB) and Chris Rwabukamba (No. 75 CB). Lost in the shuffle was the gray shirted Matt Pridemore who has already enrolled at Duke, after testing as the best overall cornerback to attend the Duke summer camp of 2005. In 2007 the trend of landing highly rated players continued as the Blue Devils brought in two of the nation's top 50 prospects at the cornerback position with the commitments of both Tony Jackson (No. 46) and Randez James (No. 48).

At the safety position Duke, has landed four players including 2007's late addition of Eddie Morgan - a hard hitting Texan that chose Duke over Stanford and several other programs. 2005's Catron Gainey is a likely starter in 2007, while 2006's Abraham Dukuly has drawn positive reviews in practice after redshirting for 2006. Former receiver and 2005 safety recruit Marvin Marcellin could well move back to safety after falling deep down the depth chart at wide receiver.

When looking at the potential for Duke in the coming seasons, the immediate positions that draw the eye are along the defensive line and at cornerback where Roof's recruiting efforts have landed big time prospects. Though the linebackers were not as highly rated, the exploits of players like Tauiliili coupled with the raw speed of players such as Banks and Justin Wilkerson, give Duke another solid unit to put on the field beginning in 2007 and solidifying in 2008.


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