Blue Devils Off To Early Start in 2011

Signing Day 2010 kicks off on Wednesday morning. However, head coach David Cutcliffe and his staff have already gotten a jump start on 2011 with their first commitment.

"I committed to Duke today," said Lenoir (N.C.) Hibriten High running back Kaylen Pearson. "I've been watching them over the last couple of years and when I saw that Coach Cutcliffe turned down his dream job to make the commitment to Duke, I figured I was safe because he'd make the same commitment to me."

Pearson, a 5-foot-11, 180 pound running back that ran a 4.4 forty at the Duke summer camp in 2009, becomes the first player to commit to the Blue Devils in the current junior class. But, he's not the first player from his school, or even his family, to make such a decision.

"My older brother, Damian Thornton, plays linebacker for them. Through him I've been able to see the program from the inside and I like what they've done in helping him get better. I've gotten to know all the coaches from going up to the games, and it's where I want to be. It's like a family there."

As a junior Pearson rushed for more than 900 yards in a triple-option offense that helped him accumulate more than eight yards per carry. It was enough to garner serious interest from programs such as Wake Forest, North Carolina, Stanford, Clemson, and Virginia. However, it was Duke that jumped in with the first offer - something Pearson says made the difference for him.

"They saw what I could do last summer, and they offered me the first semester of this year. I had been thinking about it, but wanted to make sure things would work out and be right. With Coach Cutcliffe being there for the long haul, I'm sure this is it."

Because he's a junior, Pearson is somewhat restricted with the amount of contact he can have with the coaches. However, he's got a pretty good idea of how he figures to fit in when he arrives in Durham.

"I believe I'll have a chance to go in early and compete. I saw Desmond Scott getting in there and really doing well as a freshman. He was competing with guys like Jay Hollingsworth and others. I think I can be as successful."

With the recruiting process ending early, Pearson says he's going to be able to focus on making that goal a reality…and he'll be working as an extension of the Duke coaching staff as well.

"I'm going to work on becoming a better player and getting ready to compete at the next level. i am also going to focus on being a real leader my senior season."

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