2019 ACC Football Recruiting Breakdown: Duke Blue Devils

In today's recruiting landscape, brand is more important than ever on a national scale. A logo, color scheme, mascot, academic prestige, and coach that are recognizable and respected has more power than any shiny weight room or trophy case. Duke has that national brand recognition. Only problem is this is an article about football recruiting, not basketball. Still, I think that blue 'D' logo and a coach that has been dubbed by the media as one of the best in the country (for some reason I will never quite understand) has gone a long way in keeping the Blue Devils a competitive ACC team for a good decade.

2020 Class:
ACC Rank: 12
National Rank: 62
# of Signees: 20
Average Recruit Rating: 0.8505
Top Recruit: Luca Diamont (0.8743, DUAL QB, Los Angeles CA)

Biggest Need: A QB for David Cutcliffe's system

David Cutcliffe has the reputation of being somewhat of a QB whisperer. He's worked with both of the Manning brothers, which will put you in good company. As PFT on Pardon My Take always says, you have to find the one really successful person in your life to be associated with and then just ride that till you die. But in fairness, I think Cutcliffe has a knack for getting the most out of his guys, when they fit his system.

Duke hit up the Portal and got Chase Brice, the Clemson backup who has looked the part of a P5 starter any time he's gotten in a game. I think Brice has a good shot at being the starter in Durham this season. He's a pocket passer with good accuracy on quick routes that has enough mobility to make a defense think about a designed run.

In this class, Duke signed Luca Diamont, the 20th ranked DUAL QB in the country. Diamont is a prime example of how a school's brand can attract a player. He had offerse from Missouri, Ole Miss, Washington State, and others programs that have been known in recent past to have QBs with big stat lines. This was a big win for Duke on the trail, especially since they are the 3rd or 4th best program currently in their own state (maybe 5th if you put Appalachian State above them, which I would argue is accurate.)

Most Exciting Recruit: Aeneas Peebles (0.8631), DT, Knightdale NC

Peebles shot up the recruiting rankings this season to be the 13th ranked player in the state of North Carolina at one point. This was probably due to his 21 sack senior season. Yes, 21. I'm going to say it, after watching his film I have no clue how this guy is not a high 4 star recruit. His combination of size, speed, tenacity, and foot quickness is the best I've seen on film out of all the DL guys I've watched for this series so far. He looks every bit like an Auburn or LSU DT where he's an edge rusher's skill set in a run stopper's body. Looks a lot like Derrick Brown from Auburn. I encourage you to watch his film, because I'm not sure that anything I type here in a short blurb will do this young man's game any justice. Coach Vice, look out my man...

Early Contributor: Devery Hamilton (0.8800T), OT, Baltimore MD -> Stanford

Hamilton has the tools to come in and play against Middle Tennessee to start the season for the Blue Devils. New offensive line coach Greg Frey brought Hamilton in to get some much-needed experience and talent for an offense that, quite frankly, doesn't have much of that to spare. The offenses ran at Stanford and Duke are quite similar in both formation and schematics, so the switch should be relatively smooth.

I would also through Aeneas Peebles into this conversation. I think he has the chance to be an All-ACC Freshman team player and could really spark a Duke defense that will need to show out this season if the Blue Devils are to navigate a tougher Coastal division and make a bowl game.

Sam's Grade: C+

I'll say the same thing I said for Boston College. Duke is not getting the guys at skill positions, both offensively and defensively, to consistently win in the ACC. This was evident last season, when Duke lost 6 of their last 8 to end the season after embarrassing Fuente and the Hokies. In those 6 losses, Duke failed to score over 17 points 4 times. And it's not surprising. Sure, you can catch a team at the right time like they did the Hokies, but over a 12 game season your true talent and depth comes out. Cutcliffe can be the second coming of Bear Bryant, but even he can't win the Coastal with this level of talent.

I will admit, Duke will never be a destination for football recruits regardless of being name brand. Their football facilities are grossly lacking, as well as fan support. Not much rankings wise can be expected from the Blue Devils in recruiting. Luca Diamont was a really good get for Duke, sure. But even he was a Duke fan from out in California, so that one was given on a silver platter. Aeneas Peebles, who I think has All-ACC potential, was only offered by one Power 5 team (Duke) and then App State. He's a stud, but it's hardly a hard-fought recruiting win.

Just overall a disappointing effort for a program that is constantly trying to claw at the heels of bigger football powers.

ACC Grades:
Syracuse – C
Boston College – B
Pittsburgh – B+
Louisville – B-
Virginia – B-
Virginia Tech – C
Wake Forest – B
Duke – C+

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Aeneas Peeble senior year:


A few things to watch:

First, look at his starting position. His weight is on his front hand, spine is level, head is up. Now look at the other DT in the highlights. See the difference? The amount of athleticism it takes to explode out of that stance constantly at that weight is impressive for high schooler. Sounds stupid, but you don't see it as often as you'd think.

Second, his speed off the ball is exceptional. Many times he's in the backfield before the ball is even handed off. And he's not just runnning around slow blockers. He ripping through, dipping his shoulder, power moves, he's got the whole bag of tricks.

Lastly, watch how he finishes. He's not looking to rip you to the ground like so many high schoolers. He squares up and runs through the ball carrier. His form tackling is very good for a player that could simply rely on his size at that level.

So why was Duke his only P5 offer you think?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Not exactly sure. He had a lot of interest from Louisville, Wake Forest, and NC State.

Gotta be a size thing I would think. Only listed at 265 on 247, so maybe a bit lighter? Maybe schools weren't comfortable projecting weight gain to be consistent DT?

I'd guess low level of competition and probably didn't camp very far away from his home. Knightdale is one of the small towns around Raleigh which is growing from commuters seeking lower house prices. It has a smaller high school which means they're playing other small high school teams in-conference and aren't so talented as to be able to jump up a level or two for non-conference games.

Thanks for the insight! That happens a lot where small town players get forgotten even in state.

He looks incredible from the highlight reel, but one thing I didn't see is when he just ripped through some one. At high school being that big where is his shove people back 10 feet play. He runs around everyone, but the one time he gets squared up they push him back (still makes the play). Most guys that big with that jump off the ball will hit the OLine like a bag of bricks and just have his way. It looks like he runs around them and no one can get he squared up. I would be interested to see what he looks like against expierenced college Olinemen. However, if strength is an issue, easy to fix, that jump isnt something you can teach.

I'm really interested to see how the Chase Brice transfer works out for Duke.

I also plan on watching that DT's tape you raved about. They have had a few solid DL evals on low rated guys in the past. Most recently that comes to mind was how they beat us out for Victor Dimukeje whose proven himself a formidable P5 tackle.