After a short lull, Duke football picked up another early commitment in the class of 2013 on Thursday. Statesville CB Breon Borders gave his verbal pledge to the Blue Devils, joining fellow in-state CB Dequavais Mann and Virginia CBs Evrett Edwards and Jake Kite in the future Duke secondary. The 6’1″ 170 pound prospect helped lead Statesville to the state playoffs and a 7-5-1 overall record as a junior; he finished the season with 48 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 6 pass break-ups. Borders picked up his first scholarship offer on a February unofficial visit to Durham, which he described as a dream come true, and declared Duke his early leader. He made his decision official on Thursday by informing the Duke coaches, and ultimately chose Duke over an offer from Georgia State and strong interest from Clemson, ECU, UNC, and Wake Forest.
Borders caught up with BDN after his high school track meet this afternoon.
BDN: What led to your decision to commit to Duke today?
I’ve wanted to go to Duke ever since freshman year, plus I am ready to get recruiting out of the way so I can focus on my senior year and football.
BDN: How did you inform the coaches of your decision and what did they have to say?
I just called up Coach Cutcliffe and I told him that, “Coach, I’m ready to commit.” And he was just so excited, he was so excited, I was excited. It was just amazing, it was amazing!
BDN: I know we spoke after you took a visit to Durham earlier this spring and you’ve had some other schools recruiting you as well. What was it about that Duke that made it the school for you?
I just really connected with the coaches and I really liked the vibe around campus. I think I could come and play within my second year at Duke.
BDN: I’m sure Duke fans will be excited to hear about your commitment. Is there anything you want to let them know?
I just want them to know that they got a good athlete, a long athlete, and they got a corner that’s going to come to work every day.
BDN: Congratulations on your commitment, Breon, and best of luck this fall!
DURHAM, N.C. – Rising seniors Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee have been named team captains for the 2012-13 season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced on Thursday. Kelly was a captain a year ago, while Plumlee is a first-time team captain.
“Ryan and Mason have done a terrific job on and off the court at Duke,” said Krzyzewski. ”Both men have grown steadily within our program and have put themselves in position to lead our team next season. We look forward to watching their continued development as leaders on the court, in the locker room and in the Duke community.”
Kelly, a 2011 Academic All-ACC selection, averaged 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game while playing in 31 contests (19 starts). He missed the final three games of the season due to a foot injury. Kelly scored in double figures 18 times on the year with a career-high 23 points in a 79-71 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 28. He shot 40.8 percent (40-of-98) from three-point range and 80.7 percent (113-of-140) from the free throw line. The Raleigh, N.C., native earned EA Sports Maui Invitational MVP honors in November after averaging 17.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 steals as Duke topped Tennessee, Michigan and eventual NCAA Tournament runner-up Kansas to claim the tournament title for the fifth time in school history.
Kelly, who underwent successful surgery to repair damage in his right foot on March 20, enters his senior campaign with 653 points and has raised his scoring average by at least five points per game in each of the last two seasons. The 6-11 forward also ranks 17th in the Duke record books with 96 career blocks. Kelly has helped Duke to a 90-13 (.874) record in his 103 games played, including a 39-7 mark in 46 career starts.
“Last year was an incredible learning experience as a basketball player, but even more so as a leader,” said Kelly. “I grew as a leader, but it wasn’t to the point I felt like it should be. With this being my senior year and my last opportunity to step up for the Duke program, I want it to be a special year. For it to be a special year, Mason and I have to be great leaders.”
Plumlee, a 2012 CoSIDA Academic All-America selection, averaged 11.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game en route to earning third team All-ACC accolades last season. He ranked second on the team in field goal percentage (.572, 143-of-250), while registering a Duke single-season record 60 dunks in 2011-12. Plumlee was one of four players in the NCAA to average at least 10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game a year ago and also finished third in the ACC in rebounding, double-doubles (12) and double-figure rebounding games (16).
Plumlee currently ranks 20th in the Duke record books in career rebounds (726), 13th in offensive rebounds (229), fifth in blocks (147) and fourth in dunks (130). He is 231 points shy of becoming the 61st player in Duke history to score 1,000 career points and 275 rebounds shy of becoming just the eighth Blue Devil to grab 1,000 rebounds. The Blue Devils are 88-17 (.838) with Plumlee on the court, including a 54-10 (.844) mark with him in the starting lineup.
“It is an honor to be named team captain. We have had great leaders each year I have been at Duke and it is role I am going to embrace,” said Plumlee. “I am looking forward to taking on more of a leadership role with this team. We have a strong group of players returning and we are excited about next season.”
Kelly and Plumlee are the third senior tandem of captains in the last four years at Duke.
Last year, we profiled 6’8,” 220 lb Jabari Parker after a Nike AAU event in Dallas, Texas. In the time since, the young man from the South side of Chicago has continued to lead an ambitious and altruistic life.
In June, Jabari led the United States U-16 Team to a gold medal at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Cancun, Mexico. For his considerable efforts, he won the tournament’s MVP award and USA Basketball later named Parker their 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, joining such notables as Kevin Durant, Elton Brand, and Chris Paul. Afterwards, Parker helped his Mac Irvin AAU 17U squad to successful runs at Nike’s Peach Jam and the Fab 48 in Las Vegas.
This past high school season, the junior small forward led his Simeon (HS) to a 33-1 record and its record-breaking third consecutive Class 4A Illinois state title with a 50-48 victory over previously undefeated Proviso East. In the state title game, Parker finished with fifteen points and five rebounds, while being the primary focus of the opposition.
Over the past two seasons, while playing a competitive national schedule, Jabari Parker, now 17, has led the Simeon Wolverines to a 63-3 record. This year, he became more assertive and, as an upperclassmen, took more of a leadership role on his Simeon team. As a result, his statistics all jumped across the board. The son of NBA veteran Robert “Sonny” Parker ended up averaging over twenty points, nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals per game, while achieving the primary goal of winning a third consecutive state title.
This month, Gatorade named him their National Player of the Year, becoming just the fourth junior to ever earn that distinction. This latest accolade came with the added recognition of his academic achievements (18th in a class of 377 students at Simeon) and community service (work with Salvation Army and Operation PUSH). For the first time in thirty-two years, a junior, Jabari Parker, won Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, winning by a sizable margin (400-72) over the next closest runner-up. Jabari was Simeon’s fourth Mr. Basketball, joining Derrick Rose, Nick Anderson, and Deon Thomas.
After a tough loss to a well-coached BABC team geared to shutting him down, Jabari sat down with me to talk about a variety of issues, including dealing with fame, recent accolades, the loss of Mac Irvin, winning a third consecutive state title, advising Jahlil Okafor, and embracing being a role model to Chicago’s youth.
First things first, what was your reaction to the passing of Mac Irvin? Can you tell the audience the impact that he had on your life and the lives of other Chicago young men?
Sure, him passing took a toll on me.
I was sorry to hear that.
Yeah, I didn’t really have a grandfather growing up. I really didn’t know him and, so I would really look up to him as another father figure in my life and that was my dad’s mentor growing up, when he was in the NBA, he had a chance to talk with him a little bit and so him not being here is like we’re missing a piece of the puzzle. Without him, we don’t have an inspirational guy. That means that everybody else needs to step up his role and get everybody involved.
Jahlil (Okafor) was saying that you guys have effectively dedicated this season to him, with the hope that you can win the whole EYBL in his memory.
Yeah, that’s the hope. This was really probably the first trip that he wasn’t able to come with us.
Mac was always very nice to me and I appreciated that.
Yeah, he was always a very respectful guy and it’s a shame that he’s not here.
On a more uplifting thought, you just won your third state title.
Yeah, that felt pretty good. You know being the first Chicago team to win three consecutive downstate titles. It really just makes us want it more. We don’t want to get complacent or become satisfied. We just wanted to go out and execute.
Did this one differ from the first two, for you personally, as your roles and responsibilities have changed? Did you feel differently about this one in particular because you’re more mature and had more of an impact?
Yeah, it was more different. The first two years, I was more humble, but, with this third one, I was a little bit satisfied. I had a big chip on my shoulder and the game caused me to humble myself. It reminded me that I’ve always got to be prepared that everybody will try to give their best game.
You had a few close victories against Proviso East in the title game and against Whitney Young (52-48) before that.
Yeah, they were real close, definitely.
You also had a huge honor recently when Gatorade named you their national player of the year. It’s a significant one because, when I spoke with their guy who handles it, he said that they’re always very cognizant of a player being well-rounded, in terms of being a high character person who balances athletics, academics, and charitable work. They basically want to try to make sure that the kids who win won’t embarrass their brand off the court.
Yeah, that was a huge honor for me. It was a really special one in terms of giving us a lot of exposure.
There was an interview you and your brother Christian did and I think he said of you, “Basketball is what he does. It’s not who he is.”
Yeah, definitely, basketball is what I do, but I really just try to use it to be a role model to the kids. I’m just trying to be a role model in my community.
Let’s quickly get back to basketball. Do you still train with your dad, brothers, and, from time to time, I think, Tim Grover?
Well, I haven’t really trained with Tim Grover in a while, but I’ve just been going on my own…to my own school and getting a lot of shots up. With my dad, he really doesn’t coach me anymore.
So, it’s just mostly your brothers at this point.
Yeah, it’s just mostly my brothers right now.
What about you and Rahm Emmanuel hanging out? It’s sort of unusual for a kid your age to be hanging around with the Mayor of Chicago.
Well, yeah, it’s been kind of special because my mom was assigned to show him around during the games and we’ve got a relationship for a while…, well, from last year, so meeting with him again this year, we all just felt a lot of support. He’s a very big Simeon fan actually.
Oh, is he? Well, that’s good for you guys.
Yeah, that’s been good for us.We definitely feel the love.
Speaking of your mother, I saw that she said,paraphrasing, “We all struggle together. Fame is fleeting. We’re no better or worse than anyone else.”
Yeah, that’s true. Fame is fleeting
I took it mean that effectively we’re all in it together, so to speak.
Absolutely, we’re all in it together and, with respect to fame, it can either bring you down or make you humble. With that, you can’t let it get to you and think that you’re bigger than anyone. You need to be there for everyone and be of service.
Has it been an adjustment for you as you’ve gotten older and people are obviously asking you for pictures and autographs?
I give them my time because I know that they’re probably only going to see me once in lifetime. So, it’s good and fantastic the things that I’m doing now so, you know, why not take a little time out to sign an autograph or take a picture.
There was a bit of controversy over you guys leaving your sneakers on the court after you won the state title, as a way of leaving your mark.
Oh, yeah, it was nothing really. We just thought that it was our way of leaving our mark on history. It wasn’t meant as anything too egotistical, but people are going to take it out of perspective. They were going to build into something that was a little bit more than what it was.
Another issue that came up recently was Cory Dollins (his best friend) going to DePaul as a walk-on and your high school coach trying to get in the running for a job at Illinois. Do those specifically or similar things have a legitimate or serious impact on your ultimate recruitment?
Oh, no, not really. I’ve got to go through the process and just go to the program that suits me the best. I can’t look at everybody and make everybody satisfied. Sometimes, I’ve got to be selfish on my own behalf.
What would you say that you’ve improved on most for fans that haven’t seen you play in the past year?
Oh, working on my defense would probably be the most noticeable thing. Rebounding has also been something that I’ve tried to improve on, but really just trying to be a better overall player. Not taking anything for..well, playing every possession like it’s my last. I’m starting to do that a little bit more than I used to. Looking back, I think that I used to take more plays off.
I think you’re also a little bit more assertive this year, particularly offensively, than you were in the past.
Yeah, I think a little bit. That’s a good word. I think I’ve become a little bit more aggressive on the offensive end.
Yeah, just a little bit.
Yeah, yeah, definitely
If you could target one aspect of your game, what would you like to tighten up most before you hit college?
Probably my body. I need to strengthen up. I’ve got to try to get, well, toning up. I’ve got to tone up my body.
Do you hit the weight room at all right now or not really?
No, not really.
You were mentioning before about being a role model, like the anti-Charles Barkley. I know you work with Operation Push, the Salvation Army, and prayer groups.
Oh, I don’t look for any attention. It’s just to help me out. It’s what I do. It’s part of my benefit. That’s what makes me happy. A lot of people see that and it seems to bring them joy and hopefully inspires them too.
So, there will hopefully be some ten and thirteen year-old kids running around Chicago wanting to follow in the footsteps of Jabari Parker?
Do you have any visits planned and have you taken any visits recently?
No, I’m going to take my visits in the Fall time or possibly in the summer, but that’s if I cut it down in the end.
Outside of that trip to Utah, have you taken any other visits recently?
Oh, no, not really.
Have you given any advice to Jahlil (Okafor), by the way?
Oh, yeah, I always try to get on him. (laughs) I tell that it’s going to be different next year than it was as a sophomore. He’s going to get a lot more attention. So, he’s going to have to be a lot more responsible. He’s going to have to choose his friends wisely and keep his inner circle tight. There’s going to be a lot of people trying to get involved. I just try to be a big brother to him because he doesn’t really have any siblings and, me, I don’t really have any younger siblings. So, I, sort of, look at him as a younger one.
You’re sort of going through some things now that he’ll have to deal with in a year from now, in terms of his recruitment and the attention.
Yeah, yeah, I’m just sort of giving him some feedback that I think he needs to hear.
How about, in terms of him, physically getting in better shape or conditioning? You mentioned earlier how you wanted to tone up your body, but I thought a major turning point for you was when you lost all of that body fat during your sophomore year. It took your game to another level.
Yeah, that’s a good point, but, with him, you know, it’s just genetics. He’s part Nigerian. So, you know, they’re naturally big people.
Some of my best friends growing up were Nigerians.
Yeah, yeah, so, with him, I just tell him that he’s got to improve his wind. He’s got to run even better and be able to keep it up. If he can run, at his size, he doesn’t really need to worry about losing weight.
He’s got a bright future as well.
Yeah, he does.
Where was that when you wrote “All of my guys eat like kings?” It looked like a nice place.
Oh, (laughs) that was after the Gatorade award. I just wanted to show my teammates my support and how thankful I was for their help in getting me that award. It was a really nice place. I just wanted to show them my appreciation.
That’s it for me, Jabari
Oh, thank you very much for your time.
Absolutely, I’m just glad for all your successes. I was really happy for you.
Some talents are identified early, but every year there are a few players that blossom later in life. One young man, 6’9″ Marcus Lee, used his unusual mix of speed, size, and jumping ability this weekend to catapult onto every major program’s radar. [private] Lee, who is a gregarious and fun-loving young man, is from Antioch, California, an East Bay city of more than one hundred thousand people.
An all-league volleyball player with a wingspan of 86″, he’s tried to carve out a niche as a superior shot-blocker and rebounder. This past season for his Deer Valley HS, he registered fifteen triple-doubles and averaged nearly fourteen rebounds, fourteen points, and just over nine blocks per game en route to being named co-MVP of the Bay Valley Athletic League. The Northern California big man helped the Deer Valley Wolverines win their first league title and make their first NCS title game. He ended the season on a tear registering a triple-double of twenty-one points, twelve rebounds, and eleven blocks in the NCS semi-finals and scoring twenty-two points in the title game before fouling out with with 3:54 in regulation. Offensively, he demonstrates good court vision for a big man, a trait which may be attributable to spending a little time playing some point guard for his high school team.
This past weekend, he helped the California Supreme and head coach Miles Simon, the former Arizona player and coach, go undefeated at the Minnesota leg of Nike’s EYBL. Duke coaches Krzyzewski, Capel, and Wojciechowski all watched Lee, a B+ student, score twelve points, block four shots, and grab five rebounds in a win against the Louisiana Select in twenty-six minutes.
Marcus’ older brother and mentor, Bryan Lee, was an all-Pacific West player at Grand Canyon University, a Division II program in Phoenix, and currently works as a technical recruiter for Google. Lee, who played last year for the Bay Area Hoosiers on the AAU circuit, credits his older brother for his development. When thinking about colleges, he’s looking for a warm climate and a coach that makes him feel comfortable, in a similar manner to his AAU coach, Miles Simon.
After the last game was over, Marcus, spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a variety of issues, including Duke’s interest and Miles Simon.
Let’s just start with a basic one. How do you feel that you and the team played this weekend?
Oh, I feel that I played great. I love playing in the national events and the team really played well together, which helped us get wins and was probably unlike any other team here. We played really as a unit. It was just great.
Shot-blocking is obviously something that you’re known for. Talk about that skill and your background in volleyball.
Oh, yeah, sure, volleyball is just a different type of jumping. It helps and I wish could explain it, but it just does.
Well, one guard that I know said that the plyometrics training in volleyball helped with his explosion for basketball.
Yeah, I think that’s it.
How much of shot-blocking for you has been about improving your timing?
Yeah, well, that’s been the key and volleyball has been great about that because it’s all about timing. Now, that I think about volleyball also helps you to calm down and just concentrate on timing. It’s very calming and you just block out other things.
So, you find it almost peaceful.
Oh, yeah, definitely.
I know that you’ve grown a little bit. What’s your reach right now, if you happen to know?
Oh, yeah, it’s 7’2.”
I heard that you were trying to carve a niche as a shotblocker and rebounding specialist. Playing to your strengths to set yourself apart from some other guys.
Oh, yeah, well, I mean I started to think about blocking shots first and about how that was something that I was really good at and I’m 6’9″…So, I thought that I should first just concentrate on making myself the best at that and then the rest of my game would improve as well. It was just something that I thought I was good at and, you know, I thought why not concentrate on trying to make myself really good at that.
What position are most schools recruiting you as, a four or a five?
Dude, I just don’t know.
Well, what position do prefer to play?
I just want to play. So, wherever they tell me to play, I’ll go do it, man. I’m just happy to be out there.
How do you feel that your offense is coming along?
Oh, it’s been great. I’m having fun. When you’re having fun, you can’t lose.
Let’s move onto recruiting. What programs are recruiting you right now?
Everybody really. A lot of schools
What about a timeline? Do you have a time when you’d like to decide by or cut down on your list?
No, I’m in no real rush with that. I don’t have any plans or anything like that.
Who will be some people that you will turn to for guidance, whenever you do decide?
Oh, yeah, my brother, Bryan, and my coach, I mean, my Uncle Mark.
I was reading that a school with warm weather is something that you were serious about. Is that accurate and will distance be a factor as well?
Oh, yeah, I’ve got to be in warm weather, but distance really doesn’t matter or bother me.
Is there a player that you’ve tried to model your game after?
Actually, my brother. I’ve tried to model his game.
That’s unique. Usually, guys will say a pro or hot college player. Were you a fan of any team growing up?
I’ve always been a North Carolina fan.
Well, that may make the next question a bit rough.
(laughs) Oh, really.
What about Duke’s interest in you? They watched you play a few times this weekend. How do you feel about their interest in you and would you be open to them, given your prior answer?
Oh, yeah, man, it was funny because we actually were talking them watching us for, like, the whole time while we were on the bench. It was amazing. We loved it.
Alright, well, then let me just ask if you personally would be open to them?
Oh, yeah, man, totally. I’d be way open to them. Way open!
Have you taken any visits recently and do you have any planned?
No, I haven’t taken any visits recently and I actually don’t have any really planned either.
Let’s talk about Miles Simon and his coaching.
Oh, he’s been amazing. He’s very encouraging and he’s a high energy guy. He’s very supportive and encouraging to everybody on the team. He’s always ready and prepared. He’s an excellent motivator. Even when we’re a bit sluggish or not ready, he’ll be like, “Yeah, let’s go! Let’s go!” (laughs) He gets the guys energized and motivated. It’s been fun to play for him.
What are you hoping to show coaches this AAU season?
I really don’t know. I’m not sure.
What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court?
That I’m just a really good, chill guy.
What’s your current height?
How does AAU compare to the high school ball for you?
Oh, everybody’s much bigger and the teams are just stacked at this level. Almost every player here will be college ball at some level. Everybody’s huge too.
What are your goals, short and long-term?
Just to never really get big-headed. I don’t want to become someone else or ever think that I’m too good for people. To always be approachable and grounded..
What style of play do you prefer to play?
A good, chill running gazelle type of play. (laughs) Just let’s run. That’s what I like.
Do you actually watch a lot of basketball?
Actually, between school and basketball, I really have a hard time watching basketball. There’s just not enough time.
Lastly, what will you be looking for in a college program, other than the weather?
I’ll be looking for a coaching staff that’s encouraging and supportive.
Like you were saying about Miles Simon?
Yeah, someone like him and a place that I can feel comfortable in and a fun place to play basketball and go to school.
By the way, where did your play basketball?
Oh, Grand Canyon University.
Thank you very much, Marcus. I know you guys are trying to catch a plane.
Al Freeman (6-4 SG, Olympic HS in Charlotte, N.C.) is one of the highest rated guards in the class of 2013 and he received the third Duke offer in the class of 2013 today. Coach Mike Krzyzewski liked what he saw at the Nike EYBL and called to make the offer.
Freeman told Blue Devil Nation that Duke Assistant Coach Chris Collins had inquired about him during the Dave Telep ran, Carolina Challenge. Freeman has attracted the big boys in his recruitment and the list includes Kansas, Villanova, UCLA and Ohio State.
“I want to go to a program that allows their guards to be guards. I don’t want to go to a program that makes you a one or two guard,” said Freeman.
Freeman also told BDN that Duke coming in a little later than some schools was not a problem and he understood that schools recruited differently.
BDN Premium will have an interview up for premium members from Andrew Slater.
Ja, Part Eine. As in part eine von zwei. Go ahead, Google Translate it. It means there’s even more coming, but only if you’re a BDN Premium Member.
“I love Duke Football, but it’s impossible to keep up with recruiting. There’s just too many players, too many camps, too many rankings. Basketball recruiting is so much easier to follow.”
We hear that a lot, and it’s time somebody did something about it. #dukegang is off to a great start in the class of 2013, so there’s no better time to start following Duke Football recruiting. Read on for the first installment of our BDN Premium Football Recruiting update.
I don’t actually speak German, by the way. Maybe we’ll do a Football Friday in a foreign language one day. That would be something. Ok, so football recruiting is all over the place (kind of like my writing) and impossible to follow, right? Well, let’s simplify it, for all of us. Yes, there are hundreds of prospects interested in and visiting Duke; yes, there are hundreds of prospects that Duke is interested in or evaluating. The key, my friends, is to find where those two groups overlap. Since we know the Blue Devils have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, let’s start there. Here’s an educated guess as to the top of Duke’s defensive recruiting board:
None in the truck so far, here, but a promising start with a couple of big-time players.
Devin Washington is a 6’2″ 225 pound defensive end prospect from Orlando, FL. He took a visit to Duke a few weeks ago and came away impressed. “Duke was amazing, left a lasting impression on me. It was extraordinary! So blessed to have the opportunity to be able to have this experience.” One of the highlights of his trip was being able to take his father, a big Duke fan, out onto Coach K court in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The staff remains in regular contact with him, led by Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Collins. But, before you go out and start buying Washington Duke jerseys (puns are fun!), the Blue Devils have quite a bit of competition, which should come as no surprise for a player who has four stars after his name and recently took home DL MVP honors at the Nike camp in Orlando. Devin picked up his 25th offer today, from Purdue. Washington is expected to put together a list of his top schools after he wraps up spring practice, and there’s a good chance that Duke will make that cut, but they’re likely to be joined by several others, most likely NC State, South Carolina, and UCF.
Maurice Hurst is a 6’2″ 275 pound defensive tackle prospect from Westwood, MA. He recently wrapped up a whirlwind college tour, and included a stop in Durham. In all likelihood, the Blue Devils have some ground to make up, but Hurst is a top-notch student and would fill a huge need in the middle of Duke’s defensive line.
Jaylen Miller and Jay Woods are two more of the Blue Devils’ top DL targets, with Miller likely projecting as a DE and Woods a DT at the college level. BDN caught up with both earlier this spring, and the Duke staff is looking forward to hosting both prospects on unofficial visits soon. For Miller, Duke will face stiff competition from Florida and in-state Clemson and South Carolina, as well as rival UNC. Coach Jones, a South Carolina native, heads up Miller’s recruitment for the Blue Devils. Woods’ list of suitors continues to grow and includes national powers like USC and Nebraska, but the Blue Devils will have their shot, led by Coach Middleton.
I still say Jim Collins is under appreciated for the job he has done with the linebacking corps in Durham. Year after year, he puts out All-ACC caliber players, and landed a very good one this past recruiting year in Keilin Rayner. The Blue Devils are looking to add more playmakers to their linebackers, and have targeted a few of the nation’s elite so far.
Michael Deeb is a 6’2″ 235 pound linebacker from Davie, Florida. Deeb played his first year at linebacker as a junior, racking up 92 tackles, after starting his career as a defensive end. He is cut from a similar mold as Duke’s Kelby and Kyler Brown – a big, physical specimen with deceptive speed and great instincts. Boasting a 3.8 GPA, he’s earned a host of suitors, which include programs like Penn State, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia. Deeb is planning a college tour this summer, which will hopefully include a stop in Durham.
Oren Burks, a Virginia native, is the other top target at linebacker, a player the Blue Devils offered a couple weeks ago on his unofficial visit to Durham. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Burks delivers a punishing hit and is being courted by a number of programs. His HS, South County, recently produced a pair of Virginia Tech LBs, and the Hokies are among the schools to have offered the standout junior.
With three of the five CBs on campus as upperclassmen, the Blue Devils will need to reload at cornerback in the class of 2013, and reloading they are. With two cornerbacks committed, Duke is still looking for more.
Evrett Edwards is a stud. Sure, the Blue Devils have brought in some athletic cornerbacks in recent classes, but none have the potential to become an All-ACC shutdown cornerback like Edwards. While Duke was one of the first to discover this diamond in the rough, playing for a 6-4 Woodbridge team, they are certainly not the last. Edwards recently cracked the double-digit offer threshold and shows no signs of slowing down. Several schools have stopped by to take in his spring practice, including ACC power Florida State. After his commitment to Duke, Edwards took unofficial visits to Illinois and Northwestern, which he had scheduled prior to his decision. Luckily for Blue Devils’ fans, Edwards appears to be a man of his word, and his commitment to Duke remains solid.
Dequavais Mann is a hard first name to spell, but a very nice in-state sleeper prospect (another player on a not-so-great HS team). A player with good natural speed and athleticism, he’s impressed on the spring circuit and is one of #dukegang’s most vocal supporters on Twitter. He’s a solid addition to the program and a firm commitment at this point.
Malik Rucker is another impressive athlete who projects at either the cornerback or safety position, and a player that the Duke staff has been in on early. At 5’11″ and 175 pounds from Minneapolis, MN, Rucker comes from the heart of Big 10 country, but has interest in the ACC. His cousin played wide receiver at Boston College, and another cousin played running back at Iowa State; but, with 16 scholarship offers, he’s wide open at this point. Expect Rucker to take some weekend visits over the next few months and look to make a decision in the fall.
Godwin Igwebuike is another athlete from Big 10 country (Pickerington, Ohio) near the top of the Blue Devils’ recruiting board. With the potential to play on either side of the ball, Igwebuike has amassed over a dozen scholarship offers and is drawing interest from regional powers Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. Duke was on Igwebuike early, as Derek Jones extended an offer on a recruiting visit last December. The Blue Devils hope to get the powerful athlete on campus later this year.
With one commitment already on board at safety, Duke is looking to find another player or two to help fill the void left by now departed All-ACC safety Matt Daniels. With several upperclassmen poised to graduate in 2013, the Blue Devils can offer early playing time for impact players at the safety position in their 4-2-5 scheme.
Jake Kite is as good as his highlight film, by all accounts. He plays smart, he plays mean, and he hits hard. This was a very good pickup early in the recruiting season for the Blue Devils, and he’s a solid commitment, though plenty of other schools will come calling.
Speaking of poaching recruits, two can play that game. Duke remains in pursuit of Durham’s own Korrin Wiggins, a safety from Hillside HS, alma mater of Duke’s Desmond Scott, Corey Gattis, and Brandon Watkins. Wiggins, of course, committed to the boys in Columbia blue in February after watching Austin Rivers bury the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. It may be too little, too late, but Coach Middleton is leading the charge to try and persuade Wiggins to a different shade of blue.
Austin Logan is a good-looking safety prospect from Tallahassee, Florida. An outstanding student-athlete, his list includes the usual suspects for a player of his caliber – Stanford, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Duke. Of course, there are plenty of others, but expect those four schools to be in the running for 6’1″ 180 pound prospect.
For the superstitious among you, that’s the lucky 13 at the top of Duke’s defensive recruiting board in the class of 2013. Now, I ask, was that still too overwhelming? Can’t you spare a few of those brain cells you use to memorize Bachelorette contestants? Ugh, well, we tried. More to come, as we break down the top of the offensive recruiting board sometime soon. And yes, I’ll work on a Football Friday, too. Spoiled rotten, all of you.