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Duke

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

Roof Focus Included
Energy, Speed, Georgia

DURHAM — There was nothing surprising about the Duke recruiting class of 2004, except that, even if you remove the added headache of a coaching change, the class was still pretty solid. The 24-man class coach Ted Roof signed on Feb. 4 included a haul of players from Georgia, an upgrade in speed at several skill positions, and a legitimate promise for more where that came from. “We went around the country and competed against schools we should have been competing with,” Roof said on signing day. “I think next year should be better than this year, and the next year should be better than that.” As usual, the Duke staff was fighting battles on several fronts. First, the university's academic requirements limited the pool of players worth evaluating. At Duke, that means the coaches lop off 75 to 80 percent of the entire pool of academically qualified Division I-A football prospects. (That number doesn't even take into consideration likely non-qualifiers.) Each year, only 20 to 25 percent of the qualified group passes academic muster in Durham. On signing day, only two ACC schools — Duke and Georgia Tech — were able to report that all of their signees already were above (and, in almost all cases, well above) NCAA academic requirements. Every other program had at least one player, and in some cases more than a half-dozen players, who needed to raise their GPAs and/or SAT scores between now and August to be able to enroll this fall. Also complicating matters was the fact that Roof didn't have a full coaching staff for most of the dash toward signing day. He became the interim head coach when Carl Franks was fired on Oct. 19 and took on the permanent job on Dec. 6. Duke operated, at first, with coaches who had no idea of their future. Then, when Roof received the job, he had to put fewer bodies on the road while he looked to fill his own staff. Nevertheless, come Feb. 4, the Blue Devils still walked away with a class ranked 70th nationally by Rivals.com. That was an upgrade from 109th in 2003. “We were behind a little through the transition, because we were shorthanded (on the coaching staff),” Roof said. “But I think we made up ground pretty quickly. There were times when we were not where we wanted to be, but we finished strong.” Roof's long-time connections in Georgia, most recently as a former Georgia Tech player and assistant coach, proved invaluable as he signed 10 players from the state. Scott Kennedy, who covers and analyzes Georgia recruiting for TheInsiders.com, said Duke did a great job of grabbing quality players from the Peach State. “I think Duke, except for maybe Georgia and Georgia Tech or Auburn, did as well in the state as anybody,” Kennedy said. “I haven't been following this long enough to give historical perspective, but I'd be hardpressed to believe they have ever done better in the state.” Georgia is important turf for most Division I-A programs, especially those located in the Mid-Atlantic or Southeast. Roof's connections there — it's even where he grew up and attended high school — should not be underplayed. The state has only two I-A schools and produces an average of more than 125 I-A signees each year. That's about twice as many prospects as North Carolina regularly generates, and North Carolina has five I-A programs. “Between Georgia and Georgia Tech, they may only sign between 30-35 each season, and that leaves nearly 100 for everyone else,” Kennedy said. “So if you can cherry pick some players, even if Georgia and Georgia Tech take the best, you're going to get some really good players.” Chief among them this year, from the Blue Devils' point of view, was running back Justin Boyle. He made an early commitment to Duke last fall, turning down several SEC scholarship offers, and stayed true to his word through the coaching change. He represents the kind of talent that will be extremely important heading into an era with Miami and Virginia Tech in the ACC. Perhaps with that in mind, Duke added plenty of quickness at wide receiver. The new wideouts include Seattle product Chancellor Young, who was rated the No. 39 receiver in the nation by TheInsiders.com; Georgia star Corey Thompson, who Roof said is the type of player who can turn eight yards into 80; South Carolina receiver Jomar Wright, who set the state single-season record for receptions (103) last fall; and Georgia standout Ryan Wood. Young runs a sub-4.4 40-yard dash. Thompson runs a 4.4, Wright a 4.5 and Wood a 4.6. At running back, Boyle joins California runner Ronnie Drummer, who is breaking track records set by Olympians at his own high school and has been clocked at under 4.4 in the 40. Texas back Tim Ball, a powerful runner many other programs pursued as a fullback or linebacker, also clocks in at 4.5. “That's the way the (ACC) has evolved,” Roof said. “It's a speed league, and I think we made up some ground with our team speed.” As helpful as this class may be in two or three years, the way Duke finished shows good promise for the future. Obviously, snagging Young, who chose Duke over UCLA and Oregon, helped the program's image. New York offensive lineman Izzy Bauta, the brother of current Blue Devils blocker Lavdrim Bauta, chose Duke over Ohio State. That helped, too. But the fact that Duke closed the deal on Young on the Monday before signing day means the Devils were up to the challenge. Roof also came down to the wire on two other three-star recruits. Georgia defensive lineman Neil Brown waited until Feb. 4 to announce for Auburn. On the same day, South Carolina defensive back Mike Hamlin chose Clemson. Why is that progress? Because Duke often has its classes locked up by Christmas. Being involved in drawn-out battles with other quality football programs means the Devils are competing in a new, and in some ways more desirable, arena. “I think it speaks very highly of our program,” Roof said. “I think people see hope and that Duke is seriously committed to football. I think it speaks volumes about what we have to offer here.” Graduation decimated Duke's 2003 offensive line, so the additions of Bauta and five other offensive linemen will help replenish that group. Next season, Roof and company will concentrate on defensive linemen and a young quarterback. The most important position on the field was not a high priority this winter, with three experienced quarterbacks returning and a talented fourth, Nebraska transfer Curt Dukes, eligible to play this fall. “We want to upgrade everywhere but, off the top of my head, I know those two areas we have to do well when we recruit next season,” Roof said. “I think right now we're comfortable and confident with guys we do have, but next year that will be our numero uno priority.” Roof obviously has a plan, but the plan is almost secondary to the same goal Duke football coaches from Barry Wilson to Fred Goldsmith to Carl Franks also have shared: Alter the perception that the Devils cannot compete on the field. One class into his tenure, Roof believes prioritizing Georgia and maximizing team speed is the right approach, but he said the key was the attitude Duke's current players presented to prospects. “When kids visited, one thing they said whether they (committed) to Duke or not was how excited … how enthused, how happy our players were and how hungry,” Roof said. “The hope and energy that came through when those people visited, that really was the selling point. That's not something you can manufacture. Either it's real and genuine or it's not.”

Young Offers Familiar Name, Speedy Game

DURHAM — Wide receiver Chancellor Young turned down Oregon, UCLA and home-state Washington to attend Duke and play football for the Blue Devils. That alone makes him unique and important in Durham. “Everyone asks about my (first) name, too,” Young said. “It means ‘secretary to the king.' It means strong and proud. I've always said I'm just trying to live up to my name.” Young, rated one of the top 40 receivers in the nation by some recruiting services, worked in a run-based offense at O'Dea High in Washington. As a senior, he had 25 receptions for about 500 yards and five touchdowns, with 84 tackles and an interception on defense. Many schools recruited him as a safety, but he will play wideout for Duke. Coach Ted Roof said the Blue Devils don't have enough athletes like Young, who also plans to run track in Durham. He ran the 100-meter dash in 10.49 seconds last year and captured the Class 3A state titles in the 100- and 200-meter events. But Young's body doesn't have the appearance of a typical high school sprinter. “When you look at him physically, he looks like a linebacker,” Roof said of the 6-2, 210-pound receiver. “He's pretty muscled up, but then you put the speed on top of that...” Young is attractive in other ways as well. The son of former Southern Cal and 13-year NFL tight end Charles Young, Chancellor said he understands the work involved in high-level football because he has been around the game for his entire life. Roof said he was impressed during the recruiting process with the younger and elder Young, who examined Duke, asked questions about the team and was willing to give its new coach a chance. “That speaks volumes about where our program is, by having a guy who has been where Charlie Young has been and him signing the scholarship paper letting his son come to Duke University,” Roof said. “I also think that can be a stamp of approval for a lot of NFL players' kids, because of the things Charles has accomplished not only in football but off the field as well.”

Who Got Away?

The following prospects had firm scholarship offers from Duke and/or took official campus visits to Durham but signed with other programs: San Jose (CA) Bellarmine QB Darrin Bragg (Notre Dame), Buford (GA) High DT Neil Brown (Auburn), Greenbelt (MD) Roosevelt DB Theirrien Davis (Virginia), Mesquite (TX) North TE Pannel Egbo (Stanford), West Hills (CA) Chaminade WR Marcus Everett (UCLA), Atlanta (GA) Mays DB Demon Glanton (Mississippi State), Red Lion (PA) High TE Austin Gunder (Stanford), Lamar (SC) High DB Mike Hamlin (Clemson), Cherryville (NC) High WR Kenneth Harris (Georgia), Highland Springs (VA) High OL Wyatt Hicks (UNC), Kingsland (GA) Camden County DB Djay Jones (Georgia Tech), Marietta (GA) Walton WR Aaron Kelly (Clemson), Baton Rouge (LA) LSU Lab WR Anthony Kimble (Stanford), Waycross (GA) Ware County DB Leodis McKelvin (Troy State), Asheville (NC) Reynolds LB Chase Rice (UNC), West Hills (CA) Chaminade OL Adam Speer (Oregon State), Kingsland (GA) Camden County DB Kevin Patterson (Wake Forest) and Little Rock (AR) Parkview DE Marc Winston (Arkansas). The following prospects also had scholarship offers from Duke but eliminated the Blue Devils very early in the recruiting process: Roswell (GA) High RB Josh Allen (Vanderbilt), Orlando (FL) Bishop Moore RB A.J. Brooks (Boston College), Boiling Springs (SC) High WR Brooks Foster (UNC), Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek OL Andrew Gardner (Georgia Tech), Hinesville (GA) Bradwell LB Gary Guyton (Georgia Tech), Canton (GA) Sequoyah QB Cullen Harper (Clemson), Gahanna (OH) Columbus RB Ray Jones (Stanford), Lilburn (GA) Parkview RB Brad Lester (Auburn), North Bethesda (MD) Georgetown WR Rice Moss (Syracuse), St. Augustine (FL) Nease WR Will Oakley (Alabama), East Meadow (NY) High OL Rich Ohrnberger (Penn State), Beverly Hills (CA) High DB David Oredugba (Northwestern), Atlanta (GA) Mays WR Corey Spells (Mississippi State), Lilburn (GA) Parkview DB Greg Sudderth (Navy) and Charlotte (NC) Christian DE Jeremy Thompson (Wake Forest). — Compiled by Dave Glenn

2004 Duke Football Signees

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Stars High School/Junior College Comment
Adrian Aye-Darko CB 6-2 190 1/2 West Hills (CA) Chaminade All-conference as WR/DB and BB player; over I-AA (!)

</td>

Patrick Bailey TE 6-4 240 2/2 San Antonio (TX) Alamo Heights HM all-state; 4.0 GPA, 1,360 SAT; over Pur., Rice (!)
Tim Ball RB 6-1 205 2/2 Carrollton (TX) Hebron SP-116 TX; 3,368 career yds.; over Kan., Tul., Tulsa (!)
Izzy Bauta OL 6-4 270 2/3 Brooklyn (NY) Poly SP-11 NY; brother Lavdrim an OL; over Md., OSU (!)

</td>

Justin Boyle RB 6-1 220 3/2 Kennesaw (GA) Harrison HM 5A all-state; 3-year starter; early over Aub., Ark. (!)
Daniel Charbonnet CB 5-11 170 2/2 The Woodlands (TX) High Star for excellent program; over Colo.St., Rice, Utah (!)
Chris Davis S 6-0 175 2/2 Atlanta (GA) Marist 1st-team 4A; 2-way star 4A champs; over GT, WF (!)

</td>

Ronnie Drummer RB 5-9 165 2/2 Salinas (CA) North TL-14 CB; SP-130 CA; top sprinter; over Wyo., I-AA

</td>

Rodney Ezzard WR/DB 5-11 165 2/2 Chamblee (GA) High SP-53 GA; 4-year QB/ATH; over BYU, Vandy, WF
Cameron Goldberg OL 6-6 250 2/2 Pomfret (MD) McDonogh SP-22 MD; 1st-team all-state (small); over Cal, Stan. (!)
Evalio Harrell^ CB 5-10 160 2/2 Mercersburg (PA) Academy From Tampa (FL) Jesuit; track sprinter; over UCF, I-AA
Jabari Marshall CB 5-11 170 2/2 Atlanta (GA) Mays Led state with 9 INTs; sprinter; over Ill., Miss.St., USC (!)
Andreas Platt S 6-2 175 2/2 Jamestown (NC) Ragsdale Injured (broken ankle) as sr.; also track; over Vandy, WF
Charles Robinson LB 6-2 210 2/2 Sarasota (FL) Riverview All-area; team captain, MVP as sr.; over ECU, I-AA

</td>

Fred Roland OL 6-8 305 2/2 Hephzibah (GA) High SP-52 GA; 1st-team 4A; over Louis., MTSU, Vandy
Matt Rumsey OL 6-4 250 2/2 Atlanta (GA) Marist 1st-team 4A; 3-year starter; state champs; over NW (!)
Rob Schirmann OL 6-5 265 2/2 Cincinnati (OH) Anderson 1st-team all-conference; HM all-city; over MAC schools

</td>

Zach Smith LB 5-11 210 2/2 Buford (GA) High 1st-team 2A for 3-time state champions; over I-AA

</td>

Jonathan Terry OL 6-3 315 2/2 Jamestown (NC) Ragsdale SP-29 NC; 3-year starter; early over GT, WF interest

</td>

Corey Thompson WR 6-2 180 2/2 Atlanta (GA) Douglass SP-46 GA; 1st-team 5A; return man; over Marsh., WF

</td>

Alfred Williams LB 6-2 245 2/2 Atlanta (GA) Westlake SP-45 GA; run stopper; over Cincy, Louis., Marsh., WF (!)
Ryan Wood WR 6-1 180 2/2 Buford (GA) High All-area; son of Buford coach; 3-year starter; over I-AA (!)
Jomar Wright WR 6-1 180 2/2 Duncan (SC) Byrnes SP-16 SC; 1st-team all-state; over Ky., Memphis, WF (!)
Chancellor Young WR 6-2 210 3/3 Seattle (WA) O'Dea TL-4 S; SP-10 WA; over ND, Ore., UCLA, Wash. (!)
*-All-American (top 250 by two/more services)
^-enrolled
(!)-strong academics
(?)-unconfirmed academics

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