2008 Intro: Duane Maddox

SHELBY, N.C. --- During his decade long career as head coach of Shelby (N.C.) Crest, Roy Kirby has mentored two All-American linebackers – Shamar Finney and Brandon Spikes.

Heading into the 2007 season, Kirby believes his latest star linebacker, Duane Maddox, is on pace to join the aforementioned duo in national accolades.

"He's getting letters from all over the country and I think he'll be an All-American," said Kirby.

Included within those letters are scholarship offers from Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina, and most recently Alabama. Furthermore, schools like Notre Dame and Miami have recently inquired and could join the fray any day now.

While Maddox, a 6-foot-2 220-pounder, could end his prep career with just as much acclaim, he's a much different player than his predecessors.

"What separates him is the speed deal – he can fly," said Kirby. "He runs a 4.6 [40-yard dash time] every time you clock him. He's probably going to get even faster this year, because he's running track.

"He doesn't weigh as much as those two guys right now -- probably when he graduates he'll weigh 230 -- but he still has somewhere between nine and ten solo [tackles] every game. He's a player."

Also, Maddox's versatility makes him a hot commodity. While his speed suggests that he could play outside, he actually stars inside for Crest playing middle and weakside linebacker in the Chargers' 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, respectfully.

Kirby believes he could play both in college.

"I think he can play either one depending on what he ends up weighing," said Kirby. "He probably won't end up on the line of scrimmage; he'll be a Will [weakside] linebacker. But, if he grows into 240-245 pounds, he'll move inside and you'll have an inside guy that can fly."

Over the weekend, Maddox entertained his first few unofficial visits of the spring. First, he traveled to Columbia Saturday for South Carolina's Junior Day.

"It was cool because I met Coach [Steve] Spurrier – he's a cool guy," said Maddox. "I liked the weightlifting coach [Mark Smith]. I liked the way he was talking about how they lift; he spots you every rep that you do to make sure you don't skip a rep, because it starts in the weight room."

After attending Tom Lemming's photo shoot Sunday morning, Maddox headed over to N.C. State for an hour or two.

"I met with my position coach, toured the weight room and football facilities, [and] they took my height and weight," said Maddox. "It was pretty cool."

Maddox arrived at his final destination – North Carolina – around 2 p.m. where he spent a good part of his time with linebacker coach Tommy Thigpen.

"He was telling me how they need linebackers and [UNC] would be a good place for me and how they got the players so they should be on their way to winning championships," said Maddox. "They said they already got the coaches and the facilities, all they need is to continue to get the athletes to win the games."

An admitted huge North Carolina basketball fan, Maddox's stay concluded with the UNC-Duke game.

"I've been a Tar Heel fan since I was a kid [and] I've never experienced anything like that in my life," said Maddox. "I stood up the whole game – I couldn't even sit down. It was fun, though. It's one of the things that attracted me [to UNC] – I love the Tar Heels."

While North Carolina has an unmatched edge, Maddox isn't prepared to name them his unquestioned leader. However, he includes UNC – along with Clemson and N.C. State – within his early list of favorites.

"Clemson, I like the facilities and just the overall feeling of being in Death Valley," said Maddox.

"State, the coaches are cool and they're building all this new stuff. Plus they have four senior linebackers, so that means I could get early playing time.

"North Carolina, I've been a Tar Heel fan a long time and I like the coaches."

Maddox, who said he doesn't plan on making a verbal commitment for a long time, is looking for a school with a solid defensive line, good coaching staff, and great fan support. Proximity might also play into his final decision.

"I'll probably stay close to home [and] not go to far away," said Maddox. "But if it comes down to it, I might go somewhere far – I don't know right now."

Maddox will unofficially visit Florida on March 28th. While he hasn't made any summer camping plans, he said thus far he's considering camps at Clemson, Florida, and N.C. State.

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