Recruiting Watch: Remaining DL Targets

With 17 players already committed, head coach David Cutcliffe and his staff are largely turning their attention to recruiting the class of 2011. However, there are a few spots remaining in the current crop of seniors, which means some un-committed prospects as well as some who have not completely shut things down despite verbal commitments are worth following.

Given the current number of commits and the players expected to return in a season, it would appear that the Blue Devils have maybe one or two sports remaining. This does not, however, include a spot for Roanoke Rapids standout defensive end Kareem Martin who is expected to decide between Duke, Clemson, and North Carolina after visiting Chapel Hill. Aside from Martin, the smart money is on the Blue Devils attempting to bolster either the linebacker or line of scrimmage.

Along the line of scrimmage, Duke had pursued in-state prospect Tra Thomas who chose to commit to Clemson in December. However, Thomas has maintained some contact with the Blue Devil staff since the verbal pledge as he continues to weigh the merits of the two programs' approaches.

"With Duke you have a chance to go in and play early," Thomas told TDD. "But with Clemson you can go in and take some time to get ready to come in and make an impact on the game."

Thomas has already officially visited Duke - doing so on December 4th, but had been a regular on campus prior to committing to Clemson.

Another name to watch as the recruiting wars begin dying down in the class of 2010 is Riverside (Calif.) North High lineman Lamar Bratton. The 6'2, 270 pounder has spent most of his career as an interior offensive lineman. However, as a senior Bratton began playing on both sides of the ball and did well as a defensive tackle. With an apparent need on the line of scrimmage, the Blue Devils have come calling and the California prospect has been listening. So much so that he'll be visiting in a week's time. Should an offer come, Bratton admits it'd be hard to turn it down.

"With Duke there are so many great opportunities. I know they need big guys and they are really turning things around. Plus the chance to get an education like that would be really hard to pass up. If I get an offer, it may be hard to turn it down."

Bratton has offers from Nevada, New Mexico, and some smaller schools in-state.

Another player with ties to the New Mexico program is Slidell (La.) offensive guard Alex Hill who has a verbal commitment to the Lobos, but is still considering the Blue Devils. At 6-foot-4, and 315 pounds, Hill was a three year starter for Slidell playing as both an offensive guard and center. A relatively late bloomer on the recruiting trail, Hill was named as his team's most improved offensive player as a junior. With such big frame, he reports the ability to bench 360-pounds, squat 500 and has a 24-inch vertical jump.

When asked what he does well as an offensive lineman, the big prospect is more than forthcoming:

"I'm quick for my size and I can get to the secondary. I can finish pretty well, but that's what I've been working on the most. I just want to destroy the lineman and my finishing is getting better."

Perhaps the most intriguing lineman prospect is Ladarius Phillips, a 6-foot-1 265 pound athlete out of Roanoke (Ala.) Handley High. Why is he listed as an athlete and not a defensive tackle or defensive end? Because he splits his time as a running back and a defensive end for the Tigers. As a senior he earned all-state honors.

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