Offensive Players - Signing Day Superlatives:
Biggest Commitment: In year that many Blue Devil fans watched the commitment list fill up with a sense of uncertainty, there was little doubt that Chicago (Ill.) Lane Technical High standout Laken Tomlinson was a big recruit. The 6-foot-5, 290 pound offensive lineman picked the Blue Devils over offers from Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan State, and several others. The Blue Devils earned the commitment from the nation's No. 23 offensive guard with a continued recruiting pitch that appealed to his desire to enroll in Duke's pre-med program. Tomlinson may very well end up as a tackle for the Blue Devils.
In-state products Brandon Braxton and Takoby Cofield were also big "gets" for the Blue Devil offense. Cofield, a big body who projects as an offensive guard, chose the Blue Devils over Virginia Tech and East Carolina. Braxton, a long & big bodied receiver from Charlotte, committed to Duke in February and remained solid to Cutcliffe and company despite offers from Maryland and East Carolina as well as interest from NC State, Wake Forest, and several other schools.
Most Likely To Be Seen In 2009: Brandon Braxton may very well work his way into the fold. At 6-foot-2 and blessed with long arms, he's exactly what the Duke receiving corps has been lacking in terms of size and providing the Duke signal callers a big target. He'll likely be tutored by senior Austin Kelly, and may very well be capable of breaking into the rotation.
Depending on the recovery status of Sean Renfree, one of the two quarterbacks could also earn their way onto the field - though it would likely be a last resort. Brandon Connette has already enrolled and will participate in Spring practice. Meanwhile in-stater Anthony Boone has impressed scouts at every turn with his ability to fire the ball with pace and accuracy.
Similarly freshman Josh Snead, who has already enrolled, could find his way onto the field in the return game given Cutcliffe's desire to have true RBs handling kick-off returns.
Biggest Sleeper of the Class: Anthony Boone is ranked as the nation's No. 106th best quarterback by Scout.com and a two star prospect. And yet at each and every turn the 6'2, 225 pound signal caller has impressed scouts, teammates, and coaches alike. A very solidly built athlete, Boone has good zip on his passes and has tremendous arm strength. He will need to improve his footwork and work on squaring up his shoulders before delivering the ball. He also needs some mechanical work to improve the point of delivery. However he's got a lot of natural gifts and some scouts believe he could be a bigger version of Duke's recently departed Thaddeus Lewis.
Honorable Mention: The theme of natural gifts translating into good football players continues with Monroe (N.C.) High receiver Issac Blakeney. At 6'5 and with a reported forty time of around 4.6 second, Blakeney could provide the offensive side of the ball with a big target in the redone…but the smart money is on him moving to outside linebacker.
Complete Offensive Recruiting Class Breakdown:
QB: Brandon Connette (6'2, 205); Anthony Boone (6'2, 225)
RB: Juwan Thompson (5'11, 215); Joshua Snead (5'9, 180)
WR: Braxton Deaver (6'5, 190); Brandon Braxton (6'2, 190); Issac Blakeney (6'5, 200)
TE: Nick Sink (6'5, 235); Cooper Helfet (6'4, 235)
OL: Takoby Cofield (6'4, 310); Laken Tomlinson (6'5, 285)