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WR Jaleel Dukes was in Durham for Duke's Junior Day

2012 WR Jaleel Dukes is high on ACC schools early

Jaleel Dukes breaks a tackle

With national signing day approaching, football recruiting will officially transition from the class of 2011 to the class of 2012. Duke kicked off the 2012 recruiting season this past weekend with the first of two Junior Days in Durham. Over 100 prospects made the trip to campus and most came away impressed with the Blue Devil program. BDN kicks off our coverage of the class of 2012 with a series of interviews with this weekend’s visitors.

Jaleel Dukes is a 6’2” 190 pound receiver from Woodbridge, VA. After missing most of his sophomore year with an injury, Jaleel is now considered to be one of the top receivers in the state. Though it’s still early in his recruitment, Duke made a good impression during his recent visit to Durham.

BDN: Can you start off by describing the strengths and weaknesses of your game for someone who hasn’t had a chance to see you play?

My strengths are my size because I’m a bigger type of person, I’ve always been bigger. I used to play basketball so going up for the ball, I can block other people off. My weaknesses sometimes I tend to slack a little bit sometimes when I’m tired, you know, stamina issues. I’m a good route runner. I work on my routes everyday. I’m just a hard worker.

 

BDN: As you work this spring and summer, what are some of the goals you have for yourself individually and your team next fall?

Become a better leader on offense and defense. I want to get the most catches and the most yards in a season, that’s a really big one for me and my family. They’ve always wanted me to do that. That’s really about it. Just becoming a leader not just for my team, but for younger kids, like JV and freshmen. Becoming a role model for them since they’re new to the school.

 

BDN: What are the most important things you are looking for in a college?

Atmosphere and family. That’s a really big thing. I really enjoy having a family there because coming in as a freshman, you don’t really know the college style and the college life and that’d be a good place to go. Somewhere like Duke, Duke would be a really good place.

 

BDN: What schools have you recently heard from? Who was the first school to contact you?

 

WR Jaleel Dukes was in Durham for Duke's Junior Day

Clemson was the first, and Virginia Tech.

 

BDN: What are your plans for visits and camps?

I want to visit Duke again. I want to visit there. I want to visit North Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.

 

BDN: It’s still very early in the process, but ideally, when would you like to make your college decision?

I’m going to make the decision when the time is right. I’m not going to really worry about it, I’m just going to let things fall into place. I’m not going to rush anything. I don’t want to stress about it. I just want to play football and get this state title.

 

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

I’m a good person. I don’t involve myself with anybody that’s going to mess my future up. I go to church, I’m a church boy, grown up in the church, so that’s a good thing.

 

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

No problem.

Photo copyright CosbyTitans.com

2012 athlete C.J. Stancil is impressed with what Duke has to offer

Photo copyright CosbyTitans.com

With national signing day just a few days away, football recruiting will officially transition from the class of 2011 to the class of 2012. Duke kicked off the 2012 recruiting season this past weekend with the first of two Junior Days in Durham. Over 100 prospects made the trip to campus and most came away impressed with the Blue Devil program. BDN kicks off our coverage of the class of 2012 with a series of interviews with this weekend’s visitors.

C.J. Stancil is a 5’11” 185 pound athlete from Chesterfield, VA. As a junior, C.J. was named 2nd-team All District at running back. The speedy prospect visited Durham for Junior Day and came away impressed with what the program has to offer. Highlights of C.J.’s junior season can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing the strengths and weaknesses of your game for someone who hasn’t had a chance to see you play?

Well, on defense, on the defensive side of the ball, I’m a ball-hawk. I’m always near the ball, flying to the ball and I go 100% every play. I’m very physical and I have good feet. On offense, I just like contact, also I play running back, so I like to get the ball and get in the end zone.

 

BDN: As you work this spring and summer, what are some of the goals you have for yourself individually and your team next fall?

My #1 goal is to make the playoffs this year. That would be a great achievement for our school because we’ve only been open for 5 or 6 years and our football team has never made the playoffs, so that would be my main goal. Individual-wise, I would like to make the All-Dominion District Team and possibly All-State. I want to win Districts too, of course, for our team. That would be good.

 

BDN: What are the most important things you are looking for in a college?

I’m just looking for an environment that fits me well. I’m looking for the coaches to be – to seem like they actually care about you and want the best for you, and to really know what they’re doing. I just really want the coaches – I’m not really sure exactly what I’m trying to say, but I just want an environment that fits me and feels at home to me. I could actually see that at Duke the other day. I really liked the vibe I was getting from the whole campus and the coaches and everything.

 

BDN: What schools have you recently heard from? Who was the first school to contact you?

Duke has contacted me, UVA and Rutgers were some of the first one. U of R [Richmond] came by the school, Virginia Tech also came by the school, and Liberty, a 1-AA school. That’s about it. Those are pretty much the schools I’m considering. I’ve also heard from Wake Forest through the mail, and Tulsa and Missouri, but those were only through the mail.

 

BDN: What are your plans for visits and camps?

No doubt. I’m trying to get out to a lot of the junior days. I’m going to UVA’s junior day, I’m going to U of R’s junior day. Those are coming up pretty soon. I’m looking to go to Wake Forest too, maybe.

 

BDN: It’s still very early in the process, but ideally, when would you like to make your college decision?

I would definitely like to take my time in my decision. Probably towards the end of the season. I don’t want to be too quick in my decision.

 

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

My grades are very good in school. I take pride in my grades and try to keep those up because I know that’s important. I haven’t decided what I want to study yet, I just want to keep my options open.

 

BDN: Thanks a lot, C.J. and best of luck.

No problem.

WR Blair Holliday is "100% on Duke"

Oaks Christian WR Blair Holliday is “100% on Duke”

WR Blair Holliday is "100% on Duke"

As signing day approaches, Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff are looking to hold onto each of their 20 current verbal commitments and hoping to add another impact player or two to the class of 2011. This past weekend, the Blue Devils hosted four of their current verbal commitments in Lucas Patrick, Blair Holliday, David Helton, and Jamison Crowder. BDN checked in with the visitors to get their thoughts on the visit to Durham and the Duke program.

In recent years, Duke has had a lot of success in recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. Current wide receivers coach Matt Lubick hopes to continue that trend, and secured a commitment back in August from Blair Holliday, a 6’3” wide receiver from Westlake Village, California. We last spoke with Blair just before his California sectional championship game in early December, and since that time, several PAC-10 programs have come calling, including UCLA.

BDN: I think since we last talked you played in a pretty exciting football game. Can you tell us a little about the game and the wild finish?

I guess it just lived up to all the hype. With them [Westlake] being so close, with them beating us the first game, the bragging rights that they thought that they had, and we got that redemption to play them again a second time for the championship. We were fired up and I’ll probably say that was the most exciting game of my life, biggest play I’ve ever made, biggest thing I’ve ever really done in my life was making that play. It was actually supposed to be a pass, but our guy was covered up so I just decided to take off and run it, and I got in. I guess the rest is history.

BDN: Can you talk a little bit about how your official visit went to Duke and let us hear your thoughts on your trip to Durham?

It was great. Like I said, when I first went there I felt like I belonged there and like it was home. That was just from – I wouldn’t say an outsider’s perspective on the school, but that’s the closest thing I can say to it. But going there and taking the official, meeting the guys on the team, going out with them – it just clicked that that was where I needed to be. I found the guy I want to room with when I go out there. It was a really great time, like I said, I talked to the guys, told me how it is being there, how practices go, how school life goes, just how everything goes. I just felt like I fit perfectly in that situation, that place, that environment.

BDN: Who were some of the players that you were able to spend time with?

My host was Brandon Braxton. I don’t know many of the last names. Dezmond Johnson, I hung out with him. Again I don’t know last names, but I remember Isaac [Blakeney], Braxton [Deaver], and a lot of different guys. When I was there, David Helton was on the trip too and we hung out. He’s a fun guy so we talked about rooming and by the end of the trip we felt like we wanted to room together when school started or when we get out there and practice started.

BDN: I know some other schools have been recruiting you and with signing day coming up, can you clarify what your plans are?

I’m 100% on Duke. As soon as the letter is sent, I’ll be signing it.

BDN: That’s great. I really appreciate your call and getting to catch up with you. Best of luck with basketball season and the rest of your senior year.

Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

Blair’s game-winning two-point conversion in the final minute of the championship game was awarded the 2010 Play of the Year by calihighsports.com.

Click here for a recap of the play.

Click here for a video highlight of the championship game.

Nick Hill is a 6'2" WR from Nashville

Tennessee All-State WR Nick Hill ready to help Duke win ball games

Nick Hill is a 6'2" WR from Nashville

Since Head Coach David Cutcliffe’s arrival in Durham, there are two areas where Duke has performed particularly well. First, the Blue Devils’ prolific passing offenses have featured a group of All-ACC caliber receivers, led by players like Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon. Second, Duke has started to recruit well in Tennessee, signing players such as Conor Irwin and Dez Johnson. The Blue Devils hope these trends continue in 2011, and 6’2” Nick Hill, a 2010 TSWA All-State receiver from Nashville, TN seems to fit the bill. A physical receiver who runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, Hill has the speed and skills that should thrive in Cutcliffe’s pass-oriented offense. Hill committed to Duke in July after attending several college camps and receiving interest from multiple FBS programs. With signing day quickly approaching, BDN checked in with the talented receiver to get his thoughts on his senior season and the Duke program.

BDN: Can you give us a brief recap of your senior season?

This year, my senior year, it went pretty good. We made it to the quarterfinals. I think we had a lot shorter, well we probably should have made it to state, but we kind of got robbed. As far as an individual standpoint, I feel I did the best I could for the team. I had maybe 26 catches for about 600 or 650 yards and 7 touchdowns. I helped develop the other receiver, helped him get a lot better this year. I was receiving a lot of double and triple coverage and that helped him get on his road so hopefully he can do his thing next year. And that’s about it for this year.

BDN: What were some of the things you worked on this season to help prepare you for college?

Well, really, going hard in practice, we as receivers, because my junior year, a friend of mine that played on the football team with us passed away. Really now in practice we just go all out because you never know when it’s going to be your last play. We just tried to work hard every day in practice and give it all we had.

BDN: I know you’ve had a chance to visit Duke a couple times now. What are your thoughts on the Duke program and the season they had?

I think the coaching staff – well I really like them, that’s the first thing that stood out to me was the coaching staff. They’re real down to earth and family oriented. When I first met Coach Cutcliffe, I felt like he was a straightforward guy. He wasn’t just trying to feed me what I wanted to hear, but he was telling me the truth about how he felt about things and I really admire him for that.

Duke WR prospect Nick Hill makes a catch

BDN: You mentioned that Coach Roper recently visited you; what have you talked about with the coaching staff and what do you expect your role to be at Duke?

They see me as a big addition. They said that I’ll be able to help them win ball games. That’s the main thing. I want to help Duke win ball games and help out the passing game a little bit. Basically, I want to do whatever I can, whatever they need me to do to help the team win.

BDN: What are your plans between now and when you enroll at Duke next summer?

I’ll probably run track. We’re two-time state champions in that, so I’ll probably run track again this year.

BDN: That sounds great. Thanks a lot for your time, Nick. Enjoy the rest of your senior year and good luck in Durham.

Thanks a lot, you too.

Nick’s highlight video can be viewed here.

Duke, USF, and Memphis are finalists for Alabama TE David Reeves

TE David Reeves took an official visit to Duke in December

With a solid group of verbal commitments already in hand, Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff are looking to add another impact player or two to the class of 2011. For the past several months, Alabama TE David Reeves has been near the top of the Blue Devils’ wish list. The 6’5” 242 pound prospect from Greensboro East High School is the type of athlete that would have an immediate impact on the field in Durham. Reeves has earned praise from scouts and coaches for his great size, speed, and hands. The 2011 Alabama Sports Writers Association 3A Lineman of the Year, Reeves has also excelled on the basketball court and the track and field team for Greensboro. Blue Devil Nation recently spoke with the highly-coveted prospect about his recruitment.

BDN: For those fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play in person, can you describe in your own words some of your strengths as a player?

Well, I think that with my speed, I create mismatches with most linebackers, and with my size, most safeties won’t be able to cover me and jump with me. I play basketball, too, so I don’t think they can jump with me. I think that I have the awareness to be able to adjust to where I need to be.

BDN: I know some schools have talked about recruiting you for different positions. What position would you prefer to play in college where you think you can have the best impact?

Well, I really like tight end, so that’d be it.

BDN: It certainly sounds like your skill set is well-suited for that. You were named the 3A Lineman of the Year, which is a nice honor, so congratulations for that. How would you describe your senior year and what do you think led to your success this season?

Personally, I feel like I did a lot better. I was doing all the little things right this year. This is my last year, I want to make sure I leave an impression and make the young kids want to do good – do better than what I did.

BDN: Can you talk a little bit about where you are in the recruitment process?

Ok, well, as signing day comes closer, it’s going to get pretty hectic. I’ve got to remember that it’s a business and I can’t let the relationships I’ve build with the coaches that are recruiting me make me feel bad if I choose to go somewhere else. I’ve just got to keep in mind that it’s all business and the schools that I don’t go to, they’ll understand.

BDN: I think Duke was the first school you took an official visit to back in December. Can you talk about that visit and what your thoughts are on the Duke program?

Duke has been recruiting me since mid-season, yeah, I’d say about mid-season. Coach Middleton is my recruiting coach and he’s also the tight end coach. I had a good time when I came down. It was a lot different than I expected it to be. I had a lot of fun when I went out with the players and stuff and I really got along with them good. I think they’re trying to do something big – make a name for Duke football on the campus, and that’s where I could probably help them get it done.

BDN: You recently visited South Florida. Can you talk a little about that visit and their program?

Yeah, I had a good time. I enjoyed the city, enjoyed the people. Also, their Coach Scott, Coach Larry Scott, he’s my recruiting coach there and he’s also my tight end coach, so it’s the same way it is at Duke. I enjoyed the players and the time I spent with them, and the facilities and all that too. They’re still an up and coming program, but they’re going in the right direction also.

BDN: Do you have any other visits planned between now and signing day?

Well, I’ve got Memphis this week and possibly Mississippi State next week, but I think that I’ll probably make a decision between now and next weekend.

BDN: So Memphis this weekend and then a decision sometime next week?

Yeah.

BDN: Without necessarily talking about any specific schools, as you step back and make your college choice, what are some of the most important things you’re looking for in a school and a football program?

The overall atmosphere and support for the football players and football program. And the fan base, like, the exposure and all that. Mostly, the people like the coaches and the players. Yeah, the players are the most important because they’re going to be around all the time and if you don’t like them, you can’t have a good time in college.

BDN: That’s a great perspective to have. Growing up in Alabama and SEC country, how much have you followed the ACC and the Big East and what are your thoughts on those conferences and their style of play?

Well, yeah, you know I’m from an SEC area and it’s a big thing, you know, SEC football. I know that there’s competition everywhere, though, so I know that just because I’m not going to like a big SEC school, I’m still going to be competing with some of the best athletes in the country.

BDN: Thanks so much, David. I know you’re busy, so I just want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us and congratulate you on your success. I know we all wish you the best of luck with your decision.

Alright, thanks, I appreciate that.

David’s senior year highlights can be viewed here.

Duke commit Lucas Patrick was selected to the TN East-West All-Star Game

Lucas Patrick on his official visit to Duke: “Everything about it was great!”

Duke commit Lucas Patrick was selected to the TN East-West All-Star Game

As signing day approaches, Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff are looking to hold onto each of their 20 current verbal commitments and hoping to add another impact player or two to the class of 2011. This past weekend, the Blue Devils hosted four of their current verbal commitments in Lucas Patrick, Blair Holliday, David Helton, and Jamison Crowder. BDN checked in with the visitors to get their thoughts on the visit to Durham and the Duke program.

Lucas Patrick is a 6’4” 285 pound senior offensive lineman from Brentwood, Tennessee who committed to the Blue Devils back in May. After leading Brentwood to a district title, Lucas played for the West in the annual Tennessee East-West All-Star Game. He spoke with Blue Devil Nation after his official visit to Durham.

BDN: Can you briefly recap your recent official visit to Duke?

It was a great trip! Everything about it was great! Showed up Friday, just hung out with the coaches a little bit, went to dinner. Dave Harding was my host, and we hung out in his dorm, went around campus, just meeting a bunch of the guys. Saturday, we did a bunch of the tours and went to the basketball game, which was a complete blast – seeing Cameron Indoor like that. Then we went out that night. And then Sunday I met with Coach Cutcliffe. It was just a great weekend, I can’t think of one thing that went bad.

BDN: You mentioned you were able to meet some of the other Duke players; can you tell us a little bit about whom you met and what you talked with them about?

Some of the other players who were visiting with me were Blair Holliday, David Helton, and Jamison Crowder. I got to hang out with them, just riding on the buses to places, sitting there at night when we got in and just talking. Some of the players I got to meet were – the other two that I mainly hung out with were John Coleman and Perry Simmons. Both of them were just great guys to hang out with and talk, get a good insight on the team and how everything went. It was just great overall, especially with those guys – they were some good guys to meet.

BDN: You also mentioned you were able to meet with Coach Cutcliffe and had dinner with the other coaches; were you able to talk to them about the program and your role going forward?

It wasn’t really – I mean, I got to talk with Coach Luke about some football and all that, but with Coach Cutcliffe, he really just shared his idea for the team and where they were headed. He got me so fired up, just sitting there talking to him about the team and how they felt about this season, and how the commitment to winning is so great now and the whole team is ready to win and is so committed to what he believes. It’s just really good to hear that.

BDN: Can you tell us a little about how your senior season finished up?

My senior season – I just had a complete blast. It was fun hanging out with the guys, and we won our district for the third year in a row, which is a big thing because we have a pretty tough district to go through. We ended up getting knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, but as far as myself, my senior season went great. I had a bunch of accolades and just improved in a bunch of stuff over this season as far as my game in general.

BDN: What are your plans for the rest of your senior year?

I’m working out every day. I just came back from an hour and a half workout and I’m going to go run later today, so I’m going to be hitting it hard. I want to go up there and not miss a beat and go ahead and be able to get working with the team and everything. I’m really focusing on my school work, especially classes that I’m struggling in so I can come in there with great school work and a great work ethic.

BDN: That’s great, Lucas. Thanks for speaking with me and enjoy the rest of your senior year.

Yes sir, thank you so much.