Signing Day Report Card: Offense

Coming off a 1-11 season, a casual observer might think Duke needs help everywhere. It is true that Duke has gaping holes at several positions, but some more than others required immediate attention. Looking at the spring 2008 roster gives great insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the Duke squad. We'll go unit by unit, evaluating this year's recruiting class against the overall needs.

*- denotes pictured

Quaterback:

Need: Moderate
Signed: QB Sean Renfree*
2008 Impact Potential: Low to Medium

Assessment:
The Blue Devil recruiting staff would like to get into a routine of signing one QB a year so there are always options in the pipe line. This is where the new staff made its biggest impact, roping in Parade All-American QB Sean Renfree. The Devils have no immediate need for a new signal-caller, as they return two QBs with lots of starts between them. Two-year starter Thad Lewis and 2005 starter Zach Asack give the Devils good top-level depth at the position. Both players are juniors, however, and with only one other QB on the roster in redshirt freshman Mike Capetto, it was imperative that Duke land at least one QB in this class. Having proven ACC-level commodities at QB such as Lewis and Asack should allow the staff to redshirt Renfree and give him time to assimilate the offense. Seeing that he is a top-quality recruit, he could introduce and tough (yet welcome) decision this fall. If Renfree is able to jump Asack and/or Lewis on the depth chart, do you rush the true freshman into action?

Bottom Line:
With Renfree in the fold, the Devils are in a very good position at QB for the near future. Lewis will start in 2008, but Renfree will be tough to keep off the field starting in 09. Asack provides a proven option should Lewis get injured and Renfree not be ready. Capetto is the wild card here. He's a pocket passer with limited mobility. He will be difficult to judge until he sees scrimmage action at a minimum. All of the QBs will be starting from scratch trying to learn the David Cutcliffe offense. The three on the roster will have a big advantage getting reps in the spring. Still, since the system is new, the advantage is not as great as if the system had been in place for several years. The good news for Duke is that QB depth is something they will not have concerns about for the next couple seasons.


Running Back:

Need: Very High
Signed: RB Patrick Kurunwune, RB Jay Hollingsworth*
2008 Impact Potential: Low to Moderate

Assessment:
The Devils lost two significant contributors off the 3007 team with the graduation of TD producer Justin Boyle and home-run threat Ronnie Drummer. The 08 squad will have 3 seniors and one junior at the top of the RB depth chart that are expected to provide most if not all of the backfield production. Re'Quan Boyette will probably enter the spring as the starter. RB/FB Clifford Harris provides a versatile option out of the backfield. FB Tielor Robinson will return for a 6th college season after an ankle injury ended his 07 season early. The only junior of the bunch is FB/H-Back Brandon King, who does not have a carry in his Duke career.. After those four, however, the only other RB on the roster is redshirt freshman Colin Jones, who is probably a career special-teams player. Duke absolutely needed to sign two RBs minimum in this class. They were able to collar one of North Carolina's best in Lee Co. HS standing Jay Hollingsworth. Some projected Hollingsworth as a safety in college, but he will be lining up in the offensive backfield for the Devils. Underrated Texas product Patrick Kurunwune is a below-the-radar pickup for the Devils. He's on the short side, but is quick and has great balance. He also packs a punch to would-be tacklers on first contact.

Bottom Line:
The Devils needed backfield depth in the worst way in this class. The late defection of Montel Harris to Boston Collete dented the numbers a bit, but Duke still was able to get two solid prospects, Hollingsworth and Kurunwune, in the fold. Both players have the potential to develop into contributors for the Devils. Neither player has breakaway speed, but both are instinctive runners that will produce while at Duke. Despite bringing in two this year, the Devils will most likely target two more tailbacks and a fullback in the 2009 class to replenish the coming graduation losses of Harris, Boyette and Robinson.


Receivers

Need: Moderate
Signed: WR Johnny Williams, WR Tony Foster, TE Kenny Anunike*
2008 Impact Potential: Low

Assessment:
The Devils will enter the 2008 season with three senior receivers in All-ACC standout Eron Riley, the dependable Raphael Chestnut, and backup Ryan Wood. Gigantic sophomores Austin Kelly, Sheldon Bell and Jeremy Ringfield should step forward and provide depth. Heralded redshirt freshman Josh Trezvant is the blazer that complements the size of the sophomores. Now, there are some new additions to the group. The Devils were able to secure commitments from two raw prospects this offseason in Alabama speedster Johnny Williams and NC product Tony Foster. Williams was a late commit that was not on Duke's recruiting radar until Cutcliffe came aboard. Foster has been on Duke's radar for awhile now, having come in to the one-day camp and blowing the staff away with his skill set. Foster is 6'2" with quickness, great hands, and good speed. Both players will probably redshirt this coming fall. Tight end recruiting was not a high priority this fall, but the Devils managed to secure a commit from athletic prospect Kenny Anunike. He is an intriguing prospect with very good speed and a great frame suited for the position. He could also play defensive end, should be show more aptitude there.

Bottom Line:
The Devils missed on a few prospects at wide receiver and ended up with two guys with potential but are not highly regarded in recruiting circles. Williams and Foster might become good players for Duke, but neither is going to come in and challenge for a starting spot off the ball. Receiver will undoubtedly be one of the biggest focal points in the 2009 recruiting season. The staff might need a true blue-chip prospect to come in and perform right away, should the younger guys not make the necessary strides in their development this coming year. With only Austin Kelly being the only underclassmen having seen much playing time, the Blue Devil staff desperately needs another underclassman to step up and contribute. Anunike fills the "one tight end a year" philosophy that the staff should employ for the position. Since Duke will have four players ahead of him on the depth chart, he will likely redshirt.


Offensive Line:

Need: Medium to High
Signed: G Brian Moore*, T Connor Irwin
2008 Impact Potential: Very Low

Assessment:
The Devils are still a little thin depth-wise along the offensive front, numbering only 13 scholarship players for this coming spring, with 3 seniors and two juniors. With a limited amount of scholarships available, the staff only had room for a few players here. Brian Moore is one of Florida better interior line products. He was the first verbal for Duke back in February of 2007. He projects as either a center or guard and his quickness should suit the Cutcliffe offense well. Tennesse product Connor Irwin was a late commit for the Blue Devils, having only been offered after the coaching change. He has a good frame and the athleticism desired by the new staff. He is, however, considered a project. The earliest he will see the field in 2010.

Bottom Line:
Considering the amount of time the Cutlciffe staff had to assemble a recruiting class, they could have done a lot worse. Moore is a legitimate ACC prospect that should be ready to play after a redshirt year. Irwin is a good athlete that will need to gain weight to play tackle. The Devils need to replenish their numbers here and upgrade the athleticism of the unit as a whole. This offensive line will be the absolute #1 priority for the Blue Devil recruiting efforts next year. Expect Duke to sign at least four linemen in the 2009 campaign.


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