Duke Football Recruiting Notebook

Duke-footballExcitement is rampant in Durham these days as practice is set to start one week from today. Recruiting news has been hot with the commitment of ESPN300 4-Star quarterback Nico Pierre and 3-Star defensive end Taariq Shabazz.

While the staff is focused upon starting practice to prepare for the 2013 campaign, they are still working hard continuing their 2014 recruiting efforts. The class is not complete as several more scholarships are on the table for some highly sought after talent.[private]

Let’s start by acknowledging available scholarships are tight. Taariq Shabazz is commitment number 13 in a class that will be between 14 and 17 players deep so Duke has a maximum of four scholarships remaining in 2014. The situation is at a point where the Staff will be looking for the best player available.

Wide Receiver: ESPN300 4-Star Trevon Lee, Cardinal Gibbons High School (Fort Lauderdale, FL) is very interested in Duke. At this time, it appears it will come down to either Duke or Vanderbilt. The optimistic viewpoint focuses upon the recent Nico Pierre commitment as a deal sealer for Duke. Pierre and Lee would complement each other nicely in Durham.

Duke remains a finalist and in good shape with two other wide receiver prospects. Josh Cabrera, Northside High School (Jacksonville, NC) and Jaylan Barbour, Monroe High School (Monroe, NC).

Cabrera has excellent size at 6'3" 185 and has cut his list to Duke, Carolina and N.C. State. Barbour is from the same high school as current Duke players Jamison Crowder, Issac Blakeney and Quay Chambers. Both are quality 3-Star receivers.

Defensive Lineman: ESPN300 4-Star Kurt Holuba, Bergen Catholic High School (Oradell, NJ) is a possibility, but Blue Devil Nation considers him to be a long shot. However, Holuba will be on campus this week so the Staff has an opportunity to work their magic.

Edgar Cerenord (6’2” 285) a 3-Star defensive tackle from American Heritage School (Plantation, FL) will also visit this week. Cerenord does not currently have a Duke offer, but has offers from Indiana, Wake Forest, Rutgers and East Carolina.

This is a good spot to interject that the Staff has not given up on linebacker Kendall Joseph. Joseph was ready to commit to Duke prior to being swayed at the last minute by Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers. National Signing Day is a long way off so it is expected the Staff will continue to remain in contact.

Tight End: Mike Gesicki (6'6" 230) is a 3-Star from Southern Regional High School (Manahawkin, NJ) with an extremely impressive offer sheet that includes: Duke, Florida State, Miami, Penn St, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. Again, Blue Devil Nation considers Gesicki to be a long shot; however, he will also be on campus this week so one never knows.

Cornerback: Tre’Shun Wynn and Greg Stroman are two names to watch here. Wynn is another Monroe High School athlete, while Stroman hails from Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Virginia. Both are quality 3-Star cornerbacks. Stroman is set to announce his college destination this coming Saturday August 3.

A situation which must be addressed here is Nico Pierre and Johnathan Lloyd who are both extremely talented athletes. The opportunity to play quarterback swayed Lloyd to Duke because most colleges were recruiting him to play wide receiver. How will the signing of Pierre, a highly rated quarterback, effect the commitment of Lloyd? At this point no one knows, but it is safe to say Duke needs to win during the 2013 season and secure a second consecutive bowl bid if they want to see signed LOIs from both these guys in February 2014. That is the reality of the current college recruiting landscape.

A quick trip back in time: this situation is reminiscent of the sixties when Duke successfully recruited two outstanding quarterback prospects in Leo Hart and Wes Chesson. Chesson moved to wide receiver and between 1968-70, Hart and Chesson were a record setting tandem. Perhaps Pierre and Lloyd are destined to achieve similar fame at Duke.

Turning to the Class of 2015, there are two names the Staff has had much contact with: Reggie Gallaspy and Darian Roseboro.

Gallaspy (6’0” 215) is a powerful running back from South Guilford High School (Greensboro, NC), while Roseboro (6’5” 265) is a defensive end from Lincolnton High School (Lincolnton, NC). These are two prospects Blue Devil Nation will keep subscribers informed on this coming football season.

Both Gallaspy and Roseboro are members of the 2015 ESPN300 list as 4-Star players.[/private]

Football Friday: A Zone Read Tutorial

Josh-Snead-9-21-10We know Duke will be running a new offense in 2013 because Coach David Cutcliffe has stated so on multiple occasions. He has stated the offense will be more run oriented including designed quarterback running plays and he has stated he desires to play faster. A faster pace equals the opportunity to run more plays and makes it difficult for the defense to substitute players on and off the field.

Duke's offense will certainly be multifaceted mixing up running plays and passing plays out of multiple formations. Spectators at Wallace Wade Stadium as well as those watching on their television should expect to see a mix of one and two back formations, double tight end formations, three wide receiver formations and empty backfield formations.

The Zone Read will be an important element of Duke's new offense so it makes sense for Duke fans to educate themselves on how the Zone Read works. In today's environment, there is no better place to look for information than on the internet.

Before looking at the basics of the Zone Read, let's take a look at throwing screen passes out of a Zone Read formation. Duke has had much success utilizing short passes such as screens to augment the running game. Tossing screen passes out of a Zone Read formation is an opportunity to mix some old with some new.

Take a look at this YouTube video for an explanation of screen pass options and blocking assignments designed to give the receiver room to run. The jet sweep, which Duke has utilized in past years, is also incorporated into the play. In addition to the video, this article discusses the use of various screen passes.

The Zone Read running plays are designed to gain four, five or six yards each time they are successfully executed. When the defense makes a mistake the opportunity is ripe for the runner to break off on a long run.

When combining the Zone Read with the desire to play faster, is there a better example than the Oregon Ducks? Turning once again to YouTube, here are three nice videos (10, 11 and 6 minutes) explaining the Inside Zone Read, the Outside Zone Read and the Power Play.

The Blue Devils head into 2013 with an experienced and talented offensive line plus depth at running back as two known strengths. The opportunity to see Josh Snead, Jela Duncan, Juwan Thompson and Shaq Powell wearing down defenses running behind blocks from Laken Tomlinson and company has me excited for sure.

With the depth Duke possesses at running back, a two running back formation makes sense. This isn’t a problem as the Zone Read can be executed with two backs as this article on the California Golden Bears illustrates.

Seeing as we know Duke loves to throw the football, let’s once again look at the screen pass with this article explaining how Oregon executes the Bubble Screen. As the article explains, the Bubble Screen prevents the defense from cheating extra defenders into the box.

Finally, throwing the ball down the field stretching the defense must be a priority for a team with a wide receiver the quality of Jamison Crowder. How does the play action pass work into the mix? Well you can do it like this, or like this or like this.

I hope you readers liked this short simple article and more importantly I hope you gained an understanding of some things we are likely to see from Duke in 2013 with the implementation of the Zone Read Offense.

Duke lands ESPN300 QB Nico Pierre and generates buzz on the recruiting trail

Duke lands ESPN300 4-star QB Nico Pierre on unofficial visit Wednesday
Duke lands ESPN300 4-star QB Nico Pierre on unofficial visit Wednesday

Coach Cutcliffe has quietly put together one of his best recruiting classes at Duke this offseason, but the Blue Devils made noise on Wednesday with the commitment from ESPN300 QB Nico Pierre. The Blue Devils had long been a favorite for the explosive South Florida quarterback, and sealed the deal on an unofficial visit that began Tuesday. The opportunity to learn under Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Roper proved to be a major selling point for the young quarterback, enough to beat out the likes of Georgia, Louisville, Mississippi State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

An explosive athlete, Pierre has already been compared by scouts to Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, the Coral Reef HS star has true dual-threat ability. Along with fellow 2014 commit Johnathan Lloyd, Pierre is exactly the kind of explosive athlete the Blue Devils have long sought on the recruiting trail.


Good news travels fast, as the rest of the class of 2014 was quick to react to the commitment.

WR Chris Taylor

I'm fired up! Got the QB we needed...just wait...Nico and I are going to be one of the deadliest hook ups in the ACC. Just wait...

OL Zach Harmon

I think we just picked up a big play maker. I've seen his highlight tape, and he can definitely play ball. He is an explosive guy who is only going to make the team, and our recruiting class, stronger. I'm very happy about it! Go Duke!

LB Tinashe Bere

Nice addition! Our class is looking good!

OL Christian Harris

He's a solid pick up for the Duke gang and I know he has to be a great character and a great athlete with good grades or Coach Cut wouldn't have offered. I have already congratulated him on Twitter and can't wait to meet him in person to size him up and see what kind of QB I'm going to be blocking for and what kind of leader is going to head my offense for the next few years.

RB Kerrion Moore

I hope he is ready to work hard so we can win a national championship!

OL Jake Sanders

I think it's a big get for us. I look forward to meeting him in person and welcoming him to the Blue Devil family. This class just keeps on becoming the best class in the ACC. Go Blue Devils!

OL Trip McNeill

I haven't heard much about him, saw a little about him online and he seems like a good player. If the coaches think he's a good fit to be a Blue Devil, I cant wait to meet him!


And if you thought Coach Cutcliffe and the staff were done...

WR Trevon Lee (uncommitted)

I just found out! I think he's a great QB that made a great choice in the school he chose. He's awesome and Duke is obviously building something special. I'm honestly really liking what I'm seeing right now!

Stay tuned for more on the Duke class of 2014, and for full coverage of 2013 training camp, which opens next week!

Cockrell, Monday make 1st Team All ACC

SONY DSCDURHAM, N.C. – Duke redshirt senior cornerback Ross Cockrell and redshirt sophomore punter Will Monday were voted to the Preseason All-ACC Team by the media in attendance at the 2013 ACC Kickoff, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Wednesday.

Cockrell, a 6-0, 190-pound native of Waxhaw, N.C., was the top vote-getter of all ACC defensive backs while Monday, a 6-4, 210-pound native of Flowery Branch, Ga., received the most votes of league punters. Both Cockrell and Monday received All-ACC first team honors in 2012 after helping Duke to a 6-6 regular season record and a berth in the Belk Bowl.

Florida State led all schools with six players, while North Carolina followed with four. Duke, Miami and Wake Forest followed with two selections apiece, while Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech each placed one player on the team.

A watch list selection for the Jim Thorpe Award, Nagurski Trophy and Lott IMPACT Trophy, Cockrell has received preseason All-ACC first team recognition from Athlon Sports, Lindy’s Sports, Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, Sporting News and USA Today this preseason. He enters his senior season as the ACC’s active leader in interceptions and boasts career totals of 187 tackles, nine interceptions, 29 pass breakups, 5.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 quarterback sack and one forced fumbler over 36 starts. In 2012, he tied for the ACC lead with 0.38 interceptions per game, ranked third with 1.38 passes defended per game and 41st with 5.46 tackles per game.

Monday, who received preseason All-America third team recognition from Sporting News and preseason All-ACC first team honors from Athlon Sports, Lindy’s Sports, Sporting News and USA Today, is a watch list candidate for the Ray Guy Award. In his first season as Duke’s punter, he booted 67 punts for 2,991 yards and an average of 44.64 yards per kick. He landed 19 balls inside the opponent 20-yard line compared to just six touchbacks. A freshman All-America selection, he launched a career-long 79-yard punt in the Belk Bowl that was one of his ACC-leading 20 punts of 50 or more yards.

Duke opens the 2013 season on Saturday, August 31 against N.C. Central in the Bull City Gridiron Classic in Wallace Wade Stadium. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. with tickets available at www.GoDuke.com/tickets or by calling 919-681-BLUE (2583).

Key Duke Targets, Jones, Winslow Set to Play on ESPNU

Semi others PEach 12 016Duke fans will get the opportunity to see some big time Duke Basketball prospects on TV this week. ESPNU will carry the Minnesota based Howard Pulley Panthers versus Massachusetts-based BABC at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando in a game slated to start at 7:00 on Wednesday.

Howard Pulley features top Blue Devils target Tyus Jones, a PG who is quite simply the best at his position. But recent stellar play from Reid Travis now has him on the radar in what has the makings for an outstanding class.

On Thursday evening in a game that will also start 7:00, the Houston Hoops AAU team which features another big timer in Justise Winslow will take on Each One Teach One.

The Each One Teach One team will have the home edge being from Florida and Grayson Allen plays for this organization, who is the only commit in the 2014 class to date.

Justise Winslow has a monster day.  Rick Crank for BDN
Justise Winslow Rick Crank for BDN

Each One Teach One also produced recent Dukie Austin Rivers and Houston Hoops produced current Blue Devil starter Rasheed Sulaimon.

Fans can also scout future rivals in North Carolina verbal commitment PG Joel Barry and the smooth wing forward Justise Jackson.

It is worth noting that Allen has played sparingly at times since joining his AAU team this season but he has been showing off his skills of late, including some nice one hand throw down dunks.

In Reid and Jones, you will see as good a two-man show on the AAU circuit and players who benefit from said chemistry.

Jones has long been one of the Blue Devils top targets alongside Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow. And there are plenty of other kids right there as well including Kevon Looney.

Read more about Duke Basketball recruiting by becoming a BDN Premium member for there are sure to be some major moves in the coming months and we look forward to bring members word from our top prospects in Disney land.

Duke picked last in pre season ACC poll

SONY DSCGREENSBORO, N.C. -  The pre season ACC Football projected standings came out this morning and the media once again picked the Duke Blue Devils last in the Coastal Division.  In fact, it's a bit worse this year in that with Pitt and Syracuse joining the ACC, it puts Duke is 7th place as opposed to 6th.  Only time will tell if David Cutcliffe and his troops can prove that the media is underrating them and the head coach is about to take to the air waves for radio before the print media gets hold of him,

Duke was represented by Anthony Boone and Ross Cockrell yesterday and Cockrell is expected to make the 2013 All ACC Team which will be voted on later today.  It is also worth noting Duke finished just two voting points behind Virginia.

Here are the projected standings.

Champion - Clemson



Florida State

N.C. State

Wake Forest



Boston College



Virginia Tech

North Carolina

Georgia Tech




ACC Player of the Year - Tajh Boyd, Clemson

ACC Championship Game consensus pick - Clemson over Miami