Class Of 2007 Fills Big Needs For Duke

With the final National Letters of Intent now securely in the possession of the Duke coaching staff, there is reason for optimism in Durham as the Blue Devils' filled some glaring needs on the roster.

The casual Duke football fan will take a look at the final rankings Duke recruiting class for 2007 and may wonder just how it compares to the previous two hauls for head coach Ted Roof and his staff.

The final numbers have Duke with 21 commitments, seven of which are rated as three star prospects. However, as Roof continues his project of rebuilding the Duke football program - the most important thing is the top prospects in the class address the positions with the most immediate need.

The class of 2005 was about addressing a huge need on the defensive side of the ball - especially the defensive line. The Blue Devils needed to stock the cubbard there, and did so in a big way by landing players such as Vince Oghobaase, Ayanga Okpokowuruk, Clifford Respress, and Ryan Radloff - all of whom were rated as three star prospects or higher. That group solidified the base of the defense for the foreseeable future.

Last year's class (2006), was all about upgrading the talent on the offensive line and bolstering the defensive line reserves. Once again Roof's staff addressed that need by landing seven prospects including players such as Pontus Bondesson (converted to DT), Marcus Lind, Jarrod Holt, and Rob Drum - all of whom were considered among the top 100 offensive linemen in the country and all three star prospects. Players such as Mitch Lederman and Jeffrey Cowart also proved to be solid additions throughout the practice seasons. Aside from Holt, all the offensive linemen took advantage of the redshirt year, and will begin cracking the two-deep this fall. Along the defensive line Duke added players like Wesley Ogelsby and Tyler Rice - rated as three and four star prospects respectively.

With both lines addressed in the last two classes, the major item on this year's wishlist was at cornerback and linebacker, while adding more to the offensive line. The corner position was addressed early when the Blue Devils grayshirted Georgia prospect Matt Pridemore (who enrolled in January), and has been further improved with the additions of two of the nation's top 50 prospects - Texas' Randez James and New York's Tony Jackson. Those three join redshirt freshmen Leon Wright and Chris Rwabukamba to give Duke a solid quintet for the next four plus seasons.

Linebacker was a heavily recruited position as well, with Duke scoring well in state. The Blue Devils landed four backers led by 6'5, 225lbs Eriks Reks who has been compared to Patrick Bailey by recruiting analysts. Like Bailey, Reks, along with North Carolina product Adam Banks, will line up at either rush end or outside linebacker as the Blue Devils will transition back to a 4-3 defense in 2007 and beyond. Two more North Carolina prospects - middle linebacker Damian Thornton and Justin Wilkerson were among the top 60 players at their respective positions according to Scout.com round out the class.

The secondary need of solidifying the offensive line was also taken care of in the form of Kyle Hill, Bryan Morgan, and Chris Shannon. All three are considered three star prospects, with Morgan being rated as the nation's No. 21 center; Shannon the No. 75 offensive tackle, and Hill as the nation'a No. 47 tackle. The trio combined with last year's class gives Duke a two year offensive line class of 10 players - seven of whom are rated as three star players.

That compares favorably to the following two year offensive line hauls of:

North Carolina (5 players - 2 three star / 6 two star) NC State (7 players - 1 three star / 6 two star) Wake Forest (6 players - 2 three star / 4 two star)

Some other programs of note include:

Maryland (10 players - 2 four star / 2 three star / 6 two star) Clemson (6 players - 1 four star / 4 three star / 1 two star) Vanderbilt (6 players - 3 three star / 3 two star) Northwestern (5 players - 2 three star / 3 two star)

Before Roof took over the Duke program, the Blue Devils had never landed a three star prospect on the offensive line (since 2002 when Scout.com came online). The last big recruiting class of offensive linemen was the class of 2004 comprised of Fred Roland, Jon Terry, Izzy Bauta, Cameron Goldberg, Matt Rumsey, and Rob Schirmann - all rated as two star prospects. Roland was the highest rated offensive lineman, at No. 142, with Terry the only other player in the positional top 200, at No. 168.

Apart from filling some serious needs with this group of 21 incoming freshmen, the Blue Devils also added some nice additions to already improving stable of positions.

Some of the stars of the class include three star Arkansas receiver Josh Treszant - who chose Duke over Stanford and several other high majors. Ohio defensive lineman Charlie Hatcher will spend a year in the weight room before challenging for a spot on the two-deep at either end or along the interior of a very strong defensive line. Maryland tight end Danny Parker is considered one of the better pass catching tight ends in the country, and is also rated as a three star prospect. The last member of the class, who may very well wait to enroll in January of 2008, is Texas safety Eddie Morgan - a hard hitting player that could end up being one of the better players in the class according to program insiders.


Blue Devil Digest Top Stories