Blue Devils taking a look at Jarnell Stokes

 
Duke prospect Jarnell Stokes

When you are a junior in high school, stand 6-8, weigh in at 250 and keep getting better, college basketball coaches will take notice.

 Such is the case with Jarnell Stokes, a bruising paint player who is just now getting accustomed body.  Last season Stokes was almost always in the paint.  At the opening AAU event of the season, Stokes ripped down a rebound and dribbled right up the gut of the defense only to finish with a right handed flush, then turning to make sure he got back up court.

Stokes, like many bigs, loves to play the angles [private]around the rim in that his physique naturally makes smaller defenders pop off with the slightest bit of contact.

Duke has recently showed interest in Stokes, where Nate James has taken on the lead role.  Make no mistake, Stokes will be a tough get but with his talent it is hard not to want him manning the blocks at the next level.

BDN Premium recently caught up to Stokes for a brief interview -
 

Where are you in the recruiting process at this time?

First I was high on Tennessee, but you know, the coaches troubles and players … I am opening it back up.

Which schools are most active with you?

Of course Memphis, because that’s where I’m from.  The new coach at Tennessee will stay in touch, Miami, Ole Miss, Pitt ..

Are you still open to new schools coming in?

Yes, definitely.

Did you have a dream school growing up?

Memphis was the team I pulled for but as far as recruiting goes, I am wide open.

What style of basketball do you like?

At first I liked a slower style, like a UCLA offense, but now that I’ve worked on getting faster, I think any style works for me.  I like the way Kansas plays their bigs, with the high low and all you know.

Have you ever thought about any of the schools in the ACC?

Yes sir.  I like the competition.

Which ACC schools would you like to hear from?

I’ve talked to the Duke coaches a couple of times and a North Carolina Coach, one of their assistants.  And I think Coach James, a black guy [from Duke], he talked about the pick and pop and how they could use me like Carlos Boozer or something.

How tall are you now?

6-9

A legit 6-9?

Well, I am growing … hopefully I am not through growing … I grew an inch this year.

Do you pattern your game after anyone, say on the NBA or college level?

I like a lot of them.  I like the way the Morris twins play and Derrick Williams at Arizona.

When will you get serious about the process?

Well, I’m starting to now.  More schools call like everyday so I am still open.  I am not sure when I would trim my list, maybe at the start of next season.

Since the interview Stokes told BDN Premium that Coach James has since called him and said that Duke was showing interest in him.  We’ll have more on that later this week.
  
More to come on BDN Premium – [/private]

Hoops Prospect Andrew Wiggins Part II

Andrew Wiggins is hot on the recruiting trail - BDN Photo by Lance King Images

Here is part II of our Andrew Wiggins video interviews for BDN Premium members.  Several media members descended upon the rising star with few knowing any tangible details as to who he is as a person and [private] player.

More to come on BDN Premium – [/private]

Duke was among the first schools to offer Alabama DE Torey Agee

Blue Devils are among the first to offer Alabama DE Torey Agee

Duke and South Alabama are the first schools to offer DE Torey Agee

After finishing last in the ACC in sacks and rushing defense in 2010, Duke hopes to upgrade the defensive front in 2011 with a group of young linemen. While the fate of the 2011 Blue Devil defense rests with Coach Knowles and the players already on campus, the Duke staff continues to work the recruiting trail in search of future stars. Duke was among the first schools to offer a scholarship to a talented run-stopper from the state of Alabama. Torey Agee is a 6’4” 247 pound defensive end from Opelika, AL. The son of former Auburn fullback Tommie Agee, Torey helped Opelika to the playoffs as a junior and has impressed scouts on the spring combine circuit with his speed and technique. The Blue Devils are hoping to get Torey on campus this summer for a visit. Highlights from his junior year can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

I think my biggest strength is my ability to stop the run. I’m pretty explosive off the ball, so that’s my strong points.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

Big thing I’m working on is pass rush, finishing pass rush, stuff like that.

BDN: What are your goals for yourself and your team for your senior season?

This season I plan on leading my team in sacks and I think we have a good enough team to make it to state this year, so we’ll see how it all plays out.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

Most important thing for me when I’m deciding on college is academics, because that’s really big for me and my family. Any school that’s strong academically, that’s at the top of my list.

BDN: You stressed the importance of academics; is there a specific field that you’re interested in studying?

Right now I think my major is going to be computer engineering, but it could change at any time.

BDN: What are the other schools that you’ve been in contact with the most so far?

I’m getting a lot of interest from Auburn right now. Auburn, Georgia Tech, and South Alabama [USA].

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools so far?

I’ve visited USA, Auburn, Georgia Tech…that’s about it.

BDN: Do you have any other visits planned?

I might be taking a trip up to Duke in the summer, but other than that, none yet.

BDN: You said that you’ve been getting a lot of interest from Auburn. Being close to there and with your father’s history there, is that a program you’ve grown up following closely?

Oh yeah, you know growing up in my house I was always a big Auburn fan.

BDN: Are there any schools that you feel you have a good relationship with at this point in the recruiting process?

Yeah, USA, I think I have a pretty good relationship with the coaches down there, and Georgia Tech.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your final decision or how you would like to narrow your list down?

I plan on taking as long as possible to think this whole thing through, because it’s a huge decision and I don’t want to rush into anything.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

I broke my school’s power clean record.

BDN: That’s great. Thanks a lot, Torey, and best of luck to you.

Same to you, thank you.

 

Will St. John Bosco WR Justin Johnson be the next Duke commitment?

California WR Justin Johnson plans to visit Duke in June

St. John Bosco WR Justin Johnson has a good relationship with Coach Lubick

With Duke’s prolific passing offense, it’s no surprise that the Blue Devils have had success recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. After adding a talented California WR in the class of 2011 in Blair Holliday, the Blue Devils continue to recruit West Coast receivers in 2012. Duke is the first school to offer Justin Johnson, a 6’1” 190 pound receiver from St. John Bosco in Bellflower, CA. As a junior, Johnson formed one of the country’s top receiving tandems with Bryce Treggs, finishing with 27 catches for 365 yards. Highlights from his junior season can be viewed here.

 

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

As a receiver, my strengths are, I’m kind of a power runner, I’m not as quick as some of the smaller receivers because I’m like 190, and I get good releases when someone’s in my face. I run good routes, my catching ability is good, and I’m an excellent blocker, all of the things a receiver needs to play in a football game.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

This offseason I’m working on getting off on bigger corners, because I know when I go to college, the corners are going to be way bigger than the corners that are in high school right now. I’m working on getting out of my breaks a little better than I already do. And I’m just working on breaking the cushion on corners, so I run track and am getting faster at doing that.

BDN: What are your goals for yourself and your team for your senior season?

We plan on winning it all, going to state. I think it’s the perfect year to do because we have all the talent and the discipline we need to do it. We didn’t do it last year, last year was a shaky season and this year should be better than last year. I’m just trying to better myself so I can do better than we did last season.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

I’m just looking for academics first, the sports will come, because when I graduate, even if I don’t make it to the NFL like I plan to, I can always have my degree to fall back on, and graduating from a place like Duke, all the doors that can be opened for me with a degree from Duke.

BDN: You stressed the importance of academics and a degree; is there a specific field that you’re interested in studying?

Right now, I’m thinking about aerospace engineering or computer science, but I’ve looked into majors, those are the two that I’m interested in, it might change, it might not change. I wanted to be business, but some schools don’t offer business as an undergraduate major, so I would have to do that postgraduate.

BDN: You mentioned you have an offer from Duke, but what are the other schools that you’ve been in contact with and have a good relationship with?

I’m developing a relationship with Northwestern, with Cal, with Stanford, San Diego State is coming, and Washington, I’m going to their spring game next week.

BDN: Ok, so you’ll be visiting Washington next week; have you had a chance to make any other visits or do you have any other visits planned?

I went to Junior Day at Stanford back in February, I believe. And that’s about it. I’m going to visit Duke the first weekend of June.

BDN: Are there any coaches in particular that you have a good relationship with at this point in the recruiting process?

As of right now, the only coach that I’m really close with is Coach [Matt] Lubick from Duke, and Coach Jerry Brown from Northwestern. Those are the only coaches that have had a lot of contact with me.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your final decision or how you would like to narrow your list down?

I would like to weigh all my options at the end of the summer and then probably make my decision before the season or midway through the season. If it’s a real hard decision, then I’ll probably wait until after the season.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

As a player, when I go to college, I like to bring a bit of excitement to the team and I have a winning aspect about myself, I don’t like to lose, so I will do anything in my power when I do get to college to make the team win and put us on top of the map as far as rankings or however it goes. I just want to win.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Justin, and best of luck to you.

Thank you, Patrick, for talking to me.

 

Duke has interest in Bartram Hill WR Jared Crump

Duke interested in 2012 FL WR Jared Crump

Duke has interest in Bartram Hill WR Jared Crump

With Duke’s prolific passing offense, it’s no surprise that the Blue Devils have had success recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. The Blue Devils received their first commitment in the class of 2012 from the Jacksonville, Florida area in TE Erich Schneider, and hope to add another talented receiving prospect in Jared Crump. Crump is a 6’3” 195 pound wide receiver from Bartram Trail High School in Jacksonville. As a junior, the big, physical receiver finished the year with 34 receptions for 683 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 20 yards per catch. Highlights of Jared’s junior year, which earned him 3rd Team All-First Coast honors, can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

I have good jumping ability. I have big, strong hands. I run pretty precise routes

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

I think route running, and just the little stuff that you can always work on, that’s about it.

BDN: What are your goals for yourself and your team for your senior season?

For our team our goal is to go all the way and win state. So just keep our eye on the prize. That’s what we’re going for.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

The reputation of the school, do I get along with the people at the school and the coaches, the people who play in front of me, who they recruited the year before, a little bit of playing time. If I wasn’t playing football, could I picture myself going there and being there for four years without sports.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest or most often?

I have offers from West Virginia, Troy, Southern Miss, Wake [Forest] and FIU so far. Spring football, there’s supposed to be a lot of coaches coming down. And they said that they’re really interested and probably will make an offer once they come down and see me.

BDN: Have you had a chance to make any visits or do you have any visits planned?

I went to a lot of Junior Days and I went to some spring football games. Over the summer, me and my dad are going to go to a lot of schools this summer and visit schools.

BDN: Are there any schools in particular that you’re looking forward to visiting?

Me and my dad are going to sit down and make a list of schools that we think would be a good choice.

BDN: You mentioned your comfort level with the coaches and people at a school as important. In your contact with coaches so far, do you feel like you have a good relationship with any coach in particular?

I feel close with, I have a good contact with Coach [Kris] Cinkovich at Arkansas, Coach Steve Spurrier Jr. at South Carolina. The coaches at the schools who have offered me, I feel pretty close with them, and just a lot of coaches from other schools who say that they’re going to come down.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your final decision or how you would like to narrow your list down?

I think towards the end of summer and towards the beginning of the football season, I’ll have an idea of some of my top schools, but right now it’s kind of broad. But I think after the summer I’ll narrow it down once I visit schools and see how I like them all.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

I’m easy to get along with, I’m very coachable, really respectful and a good teammate.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jared, and best of luck to you.

Thank you very much.

 

Best of luck to Abraham Kromah and the rest of Duke's NFL hopefuls this week. -Lance King Images

Football Friday: the book light that comes with your Snuggie

If you haven’t joined BDN Premium yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. My wit and insight alone are worth the price of admission. Well, not really. It’s more like you get all of watzone’s scoop, Andrew Slater’s recruiting analysis, a great Duke message board community, and then my column is that last add-on in the infomercial that they throw in to close the deal.  I’m the booklight that comes with your Snuggie. But seriously, it’s April and I can’t find a way to keep these columns any shorter. I guess that’s a good thing, as it means there’s still a lot of activity around Duke football. Thanks for joining us for another thrilling installment of BDN’s Football Friday. [private]

Sorry about the title, I thought it was a good line, until I realized well, it’s not. Oh well, let’s see you come up with something better.

Best of luck to Abraham Kromah and the rest of Duke's NFL hopefuls this week. -Lance King Images

 

Tyree Glover dismissed from program

This is old news now, but Tyree Glover was arrested on Tuesday in Durham and charged with trafficking cocaine. After a search of his dorm room, he was also found to be in possession of marijuana and was held in jail in lieu of $750,000 bond. Legal experts would know better, but I believe the trafficking charge for the amount of cocaine he possessed is a class G felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 42 months in prison and $50,000 fine. As would be expected, Coach Cutcliffe acted swiftly in dismissing Tyree from the program for “conduct unbecoming of a member of the program.” As a sophomore, Glover played in 11 games for Duke and started the September game at Wake Forest. It’s an unfortunate development for the program, both as a knock on Duke’s reputation and a loss of depth at linebacker. While I hate to try and find a bright side in situations like this, Glover’s dismissal will open up another scholarship this fall, which could certainly help with only 12 players in their final year of eligibility. Though his serious lack of judgment is indefensible, we all certainly hope that Tyree is able to turn things around for himself.

NFL Draft set for Thursday

The Blue Devils sent four players to the NFL in 2010, though none were taken in the NFL Draft. Duke has several NFL hopefuls again this year, and the Blue Devil Nation will be pulling to hear their names called on Thursday. At Duke’s annual Pro Day, DE Patrick Egboh, OG Brandon Harper, TE Brett Huffman, WR Austin Kelly, TE Brandon King, LB Abraham Kromah, CB Chris Rwabukamba, and LB Damian Thornton worked out for NFL scouts, and a few have had additional workout invites in recent weeks. In all likelihood, the Duke seniors may have to work their way into the league again this year via the free agent and training camp invite routes. Next to winning games, establishing players in the NFL is essential to help the Blue Devils recruit elite athletes.

Spring practices wrap up this weekend

The last of ACC spring practices will wrap up this weekend, and the ACC coaches held their spring conference call earlier this week. Since we toured around the ACC in last week’s Football Friday, we won’t do it again. Much of what we discussed last week still holds true: QB battle will head into August in Miami, Virginia Tech expects David Wilson to be very good, etc. Boston College expects to have Montel Harris back for the fall, but he was held out of their spring game for precautionary reasons, so we’ll keep an eye on his health as we head towards September.

As for Duke, Coach Cutcliffe didn’t have much to add, given that Duke wrapped up spring practice nearly a month ago. He reiterated the team’s youth, especially along the defensive front, where 10 of 15 players are underclassmen. He’s excited about the speed on defense and thinks that Coach Knowles did a good job with personnel assignments this spring, which we can only hope will continue into the fall. We’re all excited to see this Duke offense, as it has the potential to be great with an improved and consistent running game, along with three competent quarterback options.

But back to the defensive front, as that’s what makes me lose sleep at night. Coach Cutcliffe reiterated that he hopes to play up to 9 guys along the defensive front, which is an interesting concept. When was the last time Duke had that many ACC caliber defensive linemen? Are there teams that routinely use that many players along the defensive front? Of course, any team with decent depth rotates guys in and out, but I get the impression that Cutcliffe hopes to have 8 or 9 guys who play significant snaps each game. It’s really an intriguing strategy, given the group of players Duke currently has. With so many young first or second-year players up front, and with no clear-cut All-ACC caliber player(s), why not try to get 20-30 good snaps out of each guy? The most obvious benefit is that it will hopefully keep the unit fresh for late in games, but it also reduces the amount of pressure on each individual player. I’m sure there’s both advantages and disadvantages to this potential rotation, but I’m interested to hear your thoughts (message board, anyone?).

Recruiting updates

As you might imagine, we haven’t heard much from the Duke staff this week, as the assistants have been on the recruiting trail. With the opening of the spring evaluation period last Friday, Coach Cutcliffe and the staff made calls to many of the high priority recruits to re-affirm Duke’s interest. It never hurts to be the first coach in a prospect’s ear, and Duke hopes it will pay dividends with some spring and summer commitments. Speaking of commitments, Coach Cutcliffe has mentioned his desire to have the class of 2012 essentially set by the start of the season, which some fans may have concerns about (the author included). We all know that many elite prospects, whether in basketball or football, tend to drag their recruitment out until the last possible minute. If Duke fills up its scholarships in August, it doesn’t leave much room for the January or February commitments. With a small class this fall, Duke doesn’t have a lot of margin for error, so it does make sense for the Blue Devils to try to secure the majority of their class by the fall. I don’t think Duke will be done with recruiting before the season, but it would be nice if they can get their commitment list into the double digits, hopefully leaving the remaining scholarships for some late-deciding elite talent. As we say on the message boards, just my .02.

So last week I name-dropped all over the place with recruiting, but none of it was very Watzonian. There’s so many names in football recruiting and things change so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Trust me, I know. You talk to a kid from Oregon and he tells you he plans to take some officials in the fall before he makes a decision and then two days later he commits. No names, of course. Anyway, who are some of the players that Duke seems to have a good chance with at this point in the process? Let’s take a look:

With Anthony Boone's play this spring, it may not be essential to take a QB in 2012.

 

QB: With only one offer extended so far, Duke seems to think they have a good chance with Bilal Marshall, and that seems like a reasonable assumption as this point. When we last heard from him, he was favoring Wake Forest, mostly because they were the first to offer and the only school he had really visited to date. That remains the case, though he is mostly wide open. The hope is that Duke can get Marshall on campus this summer, perhaps for Coach Cutcliffe’s QB College, and then go from there. This is a situation not unlike basketball, where if Duke loses out on Marshall, they could have a lot of ground to make up with some of the other QB prospects. That being said, the chance to play for the mentor of Peyton and Eli Manning is still pretty attractive. With the play of Connette and Boone this spring, it’s also not a requirement that Duke takes a QB in this class.

RB: If I said it’s not a requirement that Duke takes a QB in this class, then I have to say that it is a requirement to take at least one RB in this class. So I think we’ve established that Keith Marshall is a long shot, and I would add that Dami Ayoola and Nick Tompkins might be as well, since both already have double digit offers. We heard from Dontonio Jordan and Todd Gurley this week that Duke remains in the mix for them, and there’s still a long way to go in both of their recruitments. As for the South Carolina prospects, Duke is Dondre Brown’s only offer to date, while Jay Jay McCullough has an offer from in-state Clemson, which might be tough for any school to overcome, but we’ll hear from him tomorrow.

WR: This is a tough group to really evaluate, as several have yet to visit Duke’s campus, which is never a good omen, though a few are from the West Coast, which makes it more understandable. We’ll hear from Justin Johnson over the weekend, and Duke is very much in the mix for his services. Of those on the East Coast, we’ll also hear from Jared Crump this weekend, and P.J. Harris and Desmond Frye are recent Duke offers.

TE: Duke remains in the mix for Dan Beilinson and already has a commitment from Erich Schneider.

OL: Duke has made a good impression on Andrew Jelks, Eric Olson, and Max Tuerk. In fact, I just heard from Eric that he will be on campus this weekend in Durham. Don’t get excited about D.J. Humphries. I’m working on hearing from some of the new OL names.

DT Korren Kirven sounded impressed with Duke, UVA, and VT

 

DL: D.J. Reader and Carlos Wray have made multiple visits to Durham, and Duke has impressed Korren Kirven and Matt Godin, though Godin is a lifelong Michigan fan with a Wolverines offer. We’ll hear from Sheldon Rankins and Nigel Williams this weekend, two other good looking prospects with Duke offers, who appear to have some interest in the Blue Devils.

LB: Deion Williams and Keilin Rayner are at the top of the list and both have Duke near the top of theirs at this point in the process. Would be nice to get one of these guys on board soon.

DB: Dwayne Norman will be making a decision this spring and it looks like it is down to Duke and South Carolina. Derek Jones has a good relationship with Miami’s Larry Hope. Duke was among the first to offer MarQuise Jones, Albert Reid, and Jonavaughn Williams. Would also be nice to get a DB on board soon.

Kicker: I didn’t mention this last week, but I see that it’s up on another site, so I’ll address it. Duke will, in all likelihood, need to take a placekicker in the class of 2012. Two in-state players, Paul Griggs and Brad Pinion, have both visited Duke and like the Blue Devils. With few scholarships available, it would be nice to be able to find a walk-on kicker, but it may be necessary to offer a scholarship in order to get an elite one. We’ll also have to see exactly where Will Monday is with his placekicking when he gets on campus this fall. Monday is expected to challenge Alex King for the starting punter job.

As you can see, the potential is there for Duke to put together a really good class in 2012, with almost all of the prospects mentioned likely to be rated as three starts or higher. The next few months are the critical period, as Duke will look to close out the recruitment with some of these players and receive commitments before the start of their senior year. We’ll do our best to stay on top of football recruiting and bring you the best, most efficient coverage around. Feel free to jump in with your thoughts, questions, etc. on the message board. Until next week, WE ARE DUKE.

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