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.
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.
Syracuse – C
Boston College – B
Pittsburgh – B+
Louisville – B-
Virginia – B-
Virginia Tech – C
Wake Forest – B
Duke – C+