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2014 Duke Signing Day Snapshot

Friday, January 31, 2014 1:21pm
By: ACCSports.com Staff
Here's an inside look at Duke's 2014 recruiting class. 
 
Head Coach:  David Cutcliffe
 
Total Number of Expected Signees:  18
 
National Recruiting Rankings:  
 
Rivals.com:  No. 68 (2002), No. 109 (2003) under Carl Franks; No. 70 (2004), No. 46 (2005), No. 56 (2006), No. 78 (2007) under Ted Roof; No. 65 (2008), No. 51 (2009), No. 72 (2010), No. 77 (2011), No. 52 (2012), No. 68 (2013) under David Cutcliffe. 
 
Scout.com:  No. 60 (2002), No. 76 (2003) under Carl Franks; No. 65 (2004), No. 31 (2005), No. 36 (2006), No. 64 (2007) under Ted Roof; No. 71 (2008), No. 52 (2009), No. 71 (2010), No. 63 (2011), No. 63 (2012), No. 70 (2013) under David Cutcliffe
 
247Sports.com: No. 69 (2011), No. 64 (2012), No. 78 (2013) under David Cutcliffe
 
ACC Rankings (Rivals.com):  No. 8 (2002), No. 9 (2003), No. 10 (2004), No. 9 (2005), No. 10 (2006), No. 11 (2007), No. 12 (2008), No. 9 (2009), No. 12 (2010), No. 11 (2011), No. 8 (2012), No. 11 (2013)
 

2014 Duke ACC & National Rankings By Network

ESPN: Unranked (not in top 40)
Rivals.com: No. 13 ACC, No. 58 overall nationally 
Scout.com: No. 14 ACC, No. 66 overall nationally 
247Sports.com: No. 13 ACC, No. 58 overall nationally 
 

Signee Breakdown by Star Rating:  

Rivals.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (0), Three Stars (16), Two Stars (2)
Scout.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (0), Three Stars (14), Two Stars (4)
247Sports.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (0), Three Stars (17), Two Stars (1)
 
States Represented (8):  Florida (3), Georgia (3), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3),  California (2), Alabama (1), Missouri (1), South Carolina (1)
 
January (Spring Semester) Enrollees:  Johnathan Lloyd 
 
Unconfirmed Academics:  None known. 
 
Breakdown by Position:  Offensive Linemen (5), Defensive Linemen (3), Defensive Backs (2), Linebackers (2), Quarterbacks (2), Running Backs (1), Tight Ends (1), Wide Receivers (2)

 

Top Recruiter  

Blue Devils secondary and special teams coach Derek Jones put in outstanding work this cycle, helping Duke snag multiple quality targets throughout the Carolinas, Florida, and the Midwest. The longtime Cutcliffe assistant and Woodruff (S.C.) native played a direct role in Duke’s successful recruitment of Easley (S.C.) defensive tackle Quaven Ferguson, as well as Mobile (Ala.) linebacker Zavier Carmichael, and two Floridians (Fort Lauderdale defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord and Miami quarterback Nicodem Pierre). In addition, Jones’ work in the Midwest this year was especially notable in helping restock Duke’s depth in the secondary. He went to Columbus (OH) to land cornerback Alonzo Saxton, a consensus three-star prospect ranked No. 33 at his position nationally by Rivals.com (and the state’s No. 23 overall prospect), and St. Louis (MO) to secure cornerback Zach Muniz, the No. 96 cornerback nationally, and No. 18 prospect in Missouri in the 247Sports.com rankings. 

 

10 Key Misses 

Winston-Salem (N.C.) defensive tackle Deshaywn Middleton (N.C. State), Monroe (N.C.) wide receiver Jaylan Barbour (Wake Forest), Jacksonville (N.C.) wide receiver Josh Cabrera (North Carolina), Elk Grove (Calif.) wide receiver Alex Van Dyke (UCLA), Murrieta (Calif.) linebacker Tyler Cook (BYU), Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) defensive back Al Harris, Jr. (South Carolina), Cypress (Tex.) running back Samuel Stewart (Rice), Hogansville (Ga.) defensive end Keshun Freeman (Georgia Tech), Charlotte (N.C.) tight end Jeb Blazevich (Georgia), Raleigh (N.C.) tight end Avery Edwards (North Carolina) 

 

Duke Recruiting Storylines:

 
  • Coach Cutcliffe has preferred to lock up most of its commitments sooner rather than later over the years, and the Blue Devils followed that trend once again with this recruiting class. Starting with the 2010-2011 class, in which Duke committed 18 out of its 20 total signees before it played its first game that season, the Blue Devils have had four consecutive signing classes in which at least two-thirds of the total class was committed by the end of August. In both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 recruiting cycles---both 20-man classes for the Blue Devils---the coaches had 14 commitments by its first game. In this recruiting cycle Duke had 13 of its 17 total commitments locked up by the end of August, and 16 out of 17 by early October. 
 
  • As usual, Duke’s recruiting class is very much spread out, without any specific recruiting territory looming larger than others. Without any clear-cut recruiting advantage at home in North Carolina or any other state, Duke has been forced to recruit nationwide, and they’ve been successful at that. 2014 marks the sixth-straight signing class in which Duke has landed players from as many as eight different states. There are no more than three signees from any one state in this particular class for the Blue Devils, and there are four of those states (Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia). And once again Duke make its presence felt in the Golden State, as Duke is adding two more Californians this class. The additions of Elk Grove (Calif). offensive lineman Kameron Schroeder and Newhall (Calif.) tight end Davis Koppenhaver make a total of ten California natives who Duke has signed since Cutcliffe arrived in Durham.  
 
  • After signing 27 players in the 2009 class---David Cutcliffe’s first full signing class at Duke---the Blue Devils have signed far fewer players over the last four classes. This will be the fifth-straight recruiting cycle that Duke falls short of a full class going back to 2010. This year the Blue Devils are particularly short, as this year’s 17 signees are the fewest for the program since the 2007-2008 recruiting cycle, which was split between Cutcliffe and Ted Roof and their respective staffs. 2014 marks the seventh time in eight recruiting cycles, going back to 2007, that the Blue Devils are at 21 or fewer signees. Duke’s relatively small signing classes in the Cutcliffe era can be attributed to a variety of positive factors, such as a low attrition compared to many of its ACC rivals, and the school’s high graduation rates for its football players.
 
  • Due to its national recruiting strategy and a few other factors, Duke hasn’t been recruiting as successfully in the state of North Carolina in recent years, after Cutcliffe and company took the state by storm in his early years in Durham. Since the Blue Devils signed nine North Carolina natives back-to-back in the 2009 and 2010 classes for a total of 18 in-state additions those cycles---several of whom played key roles in the 2013 ACC Coastal Division championship team---Duke has signed just 17 combined North Carolinians in its last four recruiting classes, including three in 2014. The Blue Devils signed five in-state players each in 2011 and 2012 and four in the 2013 cycle, which makes the 2014 in-state haul (Graham (N.C.) quarterback Johnathan Lloyd, Mocksville (N.C.) offensive lineman Tripp McNeill, and Charlotte running back Shaun Wilson) the smallest group numbers-wise to sign with Duke since Cutcliffe came to town. 
 
 

A Closer Look At ...

 
Alonzo Saxton, DB (5-11, 165) Columbus (OH) Bishop Hartley

Rivals.com Ranking:  (No. 33 cornerback, No. 23 in Ohio) 
Scout.com Ranking:  (No. 97 cornerback, No. 56 in Ohio)
247Sports.com Ranking:  (No. 60 cornerback, No. 38 in Ohio)
Lead Recruiter(s):  Derek Jones
 
Duke deserves a tremendous amount of credit for this Midwestern recruiting coup, as the Blue Devils pulled out of Ohio one of the region’s best cornerback prospects. Saxton proved his mettle at the Rivals Camp Series event in Cincinnati in April, 2013, where he was rated the No. 1 defensive prospect in attendance alongside numerous other major conference prospects. Saxton had offers from a plethora of Big Ten schools including Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin, so his addition is huge for the Blue Devils as it looks to enhance its national football recruiting footprint. Saxton enjoyed a storybook senior season at Bishop Hartley, earning Ohio Division V Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Associated Press after recording nine interceptions, 48 tackles, four pass breakups and one tackle for loss, leading his team to a 13-2 overall record and a state championship game berth. Saxton was also a track standout at Bishop Hartley who recorded top times of 7.38 seconds in the 60 meters, 11.54 seconds in the 100 meters, and 23.14 seconds in the 200 meters. 
 
 
Nicodem Pierre, QB (6-1, 200) Miami (Fla.) Coral Reef Senior
 
Rivals.com Ranking:  (No. 19 dual-threat quarterback, No. 81 in Florida)
Scout.com Ranking:  (No. 48 quarterback, No. 71 in Florida)
247Sports.com Ranking:  (No. 44 pro-style quarterback, No. 143 in Florida)
Lead Recruiter(s):  Derek Jones
 
The commitment of Pierre to the Blue Devils---and the mere fact that Duke was in the mix---is indicative of the program’s enhanced recruiting under Cutcliffe and his staff. Pierre had approximately 20 scholarship offers from schools including Wisconsin, Kansas State, Louisville, Nebraska, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Wake Forest, and several others. It was a team effort for the Blue Devils, as Derek Jones, Scottie Montgomery, Jeff Farris, and Kurt Roper all played a role in Pierre’s commitment. At the time of his pledge, Pierre was the very first ESPN 300 prospect in the David Cutcliffe tenure to commit to Duke. Pierre led Coral Reef High School to a state playoff berth in 2013, and following his senior season he participated in the star-studded Dade vs. Broward All-Star Game---the premier prep showcase for high school talents in the Miami area. 
 
Taariq Shabazz, DE (6-3, 240) Kennesaw (Ga.) Kennesaw Mountain
 
Rivals.com Ranking:  (Unranked)
Scout.com Ranking:  (No. 117 defensive end)
247Sports.com Ranking:  (No. 23 weak-side defensive end, No. 36 in Georgia)
Lead Recruiter(s):  Rick Petri
 
Duke beat out multiple major conference schools for Shabazz, including Cincinnati, East Carolina, Southern Miss, and Vanderbilt. Though Shabazz was injured through much of the 2013 season, he recorded 24.5 career tackles for loss at Kennesaw Mountain High School, including 16.5 sacks his junior season of 2012; he forced three fumbles during his prep career. As a junior in 2012 he also recorded 59 total tackles and 4.5 sacks. An excellent student, Shabazz is one of the strongest members of Duke’s 2014 signing class, with a reported bench press of 375 pounds. 
 

Why They Chose Duke

 
Duke has an established and proven engineering program and that really got my attention. I'm wanting to major in electrical engineering and I just felt like I had the best fit as a student there, as well as the football. I just felt like Duke was the best fit.
---Mocksville (N.C.) offensive lineman Tripp McNeill to DevilsIllustrated.com
 
I just felt like Duke is the right place for me. I will be able to play quarterback, and I'll also be able to play baseball while getting a great education. I am going to play both sports, and the baseball staff was just as happy as the football staff. Everyone at Duke on the staff are very real and very sincere when they talk with me. Playing quarterback is in my heart, and I'm very happy to have an opportunity to do so at Duke. Coach Cutcliffe is one of the best QB coaches around, and I'm really excited to be with him. For me, I'm really looking forward to competing and helping take the program to the next level. We're not going to be the Duke football program of old.
---Graham (N.C.) dual-threat quarterback Johnathan Lloyd to TheDevilsDen.com
 
 
It's close to home, the educational institution is great and I'm a student before an athlete. And they're in the ACC so I'll be competing in one of the best conferences. And the program is going in the right direction. Coach (Re’quan) Boyette, the running backs coach, we have been talking and he just seems like a real good coach.
---Charlotte (N.C.) running back Shaun Wilson to DevilsIllustrated.com 
 
With Duke it's hard to beat the combination of athletics and academics. It's been personal for me because everyone down here in South Florida has been asking me 'Why Duke?'. I've heard 'Duke sucks, go somewhere else' as well. This season goes to show that you cannot underestimate any team. These wins have silenced all the Duke doubters and all the people who questioned my decision.
---Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) wide receiver Chris Taylor to TheDevilsDen.com