One of the areas of greatest improvement within the Duke football program since the arrival of Head Coach David Cutcliffe has been the offensive line. This fall, Duke is expected to feature one of the strongest and deepest groups in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke has worked hard to build the position group with Duke’s current players, while also working tirelessly on the recruiting trail. On Wednesday, his efforts resulted in the addition of another talented offensive lineman to the Duke program. Tanner Stone, a 6’6” 260 pound prospect from Highland Park HS in Dallas, Texas, has committed to the Blue Devils. As a junior, Stone helped lead the Scots to a 12-1 overall record and the Texas 4A state playoffs.
Tanner spoke with BDN shortly after his decision today.
BDN: What are your strengths as a player?
I think they say I’m a good pass-blocker, I have good feet, and I’m quick enough to catch someone off the edge and I work hard and all that jazz.
BDN: What are you working on this summer as you prepare for your senior year?
I think the main thing is gaining weight, because I’m at about 250 right now and I know for a college offensive lineman, I need to be near the 300s.
BDN: How did you arrive at your decision to commit to Duke?
Yeah, I actually was up there last weekend for their football camps and met all the coaches, and all the coaches were really cool and they just have a really good program. They’re on the rise because all of their coaches are from really good schools and I think they’re going to do a lot for the program. Also, it’s just outstanding academic-wise and it’s overall just a good fit for me.
BDN: Is there anything else you want Duke fans to know about you?
I’m going to try my best to do whatever I can for the team and just try to win and work hard.
The Duke staff continues to work hard on the class of 2012 and are excited to add the 6th commitment today in DE Carlos Wray. Wray informed the Duke coaching staff of his decision this morning and becomes the second defensive line commit along with DE Allen Jackson in the class of 2012. Wray is a 6’2½” 250 pound standout from Shelby, North Carolina. As a junior, he helped Shelby to a 9-6 overall record, totaling 78 tackles, 14 sacks, and forcing 3 fumbles on the year. Wray chose the Blue Devils over offers from Ball State, East Carolina, Minnesota, Wake Forest, and VMI, and had interest from Clemson, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and UNC.
Check back with BDN for more from the newest Blue Devil!
In case you haven’t noticed, things tend to come in waves here at BDN Premium. With AAU coverage in full swing, we’re also entering the heat of the college football recruiting season. The Blue Devils have added another verbal commitment this week, and they’re just getting started. [private]
Class of 2012 up to 4
California LB Deion Williams joined TE Erich Schneider, DE Allen Jackson, and SAF Dwayne Norman as the first four verbal commitments in the class of 2012 this week. As a junior, Williams earned 2nd Team All-Trinity League honors, playing on both sides of the ball. Though Duke was his only offer to date, the coaching staff targeted Williams early on in the recruiting season and there’s reason to believe that they expect him to develop into a solid college player.
Back to the board
During the recent spring evaluation period, the Duke coaching staff was out in full force, scouting the country for players who will make an impact for their program. At the start of the evaluation period, Duke had extended around 50-60 offers. That number has now swelled to nearly 100, so let’s take another look at the recruiting board by position.
Let’s start with one of the positions of greatest need in 2012, after not bringing in a running back in 2011. Duke is up to 12 offers at running back, a good indication that they hope to take more than one in this class. Eleven of those prospects are still undecided, with J.C. Coleman, a Virginia Tech commit, being the lone exception. Dontonio Jordan is expected to announce his decision today, with most expecting his pick to be Kansas or Stanford. We’ve already heard from several of the remaining prospects, so we have some idea of where Duke stands with them: Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, l’Tavius Mathers and Nick Tompkins. Interviews with some of the new names will be posted this week.
The offensive linemen are widely considered to be the strength of the class of 2011, and Duke hopes that success continues in the class of 2012. So far, Coach Luke and the staff have come up empty, losing six offensive line prospects to other schools; most recently, Patrick DeStefano to Clemson and Max Tuerk to USC. There are eleven uncommitted offensive line prospects remaining on Duke’s board, and we will focus on this position in interviews next week.
It’s no secret that Duke needs to improve on defense, and recruiting well along the defensive front would go a long way towards that cause. With an athletic defensive end prospect in Allen Jackson already on board, Duke is looking at 8 additional defensive end prospects and 12 defensive tackle prospects. Of those offered, only two have committed elsewhere: Brent Wilkerson to Penn State and Matt Godin to Michigan. Again, a lot of these prospects aren’t new to us: Torey Agee, Korren Kirven, David Reader, Jordan Watkins, and Carlos Wray.
The Blue Devils added Deion Williams to the class of 2012 this week, and will look to add at least one additional linebacker in this class. Keilin Rayner remains at the top of the list, but Jeremiah Allison is a new west coast prospect that has entered the mix. We’ll hear from him this week as well.
After losing out on Ronald Darby to Notre Dame, Duke remains focused on a group of five cornerbacks, led by Larry Hope and Albert Reid.
Duke views Erich Schneider, the first commitment of the class of 2012, as a tight end prospect, but will need to add at least one more to build depth at the position with the graduation of Cooper Helfet and Danny Parker. While they lost out on Evan Baylis to Oregon, Duke remains aggressive with a group of elite tight ends, headlined by Dan Beilinson, Justin Meredith, Kent Taylor, and Colin Thompson.
The Duke offense remains attractive to elite wide receivers, and with All-ACC receivers Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon now upperclassmen, the Blue Devils will need to reload at the position in the class of 2012. Micheal Summers is an athlete we recently heard from who could fit nicely as a slot receiver, and Duke continues to pursue Jared Crump, Justin Johnson, and Max McCaffrey.
So now you’re asking, did he really mean quarterbacks? I thought Bilal Marshall was the only one with an offer. Well, here’s your reward for reading this far. Duke has extended an offer to Georgia QB Chris Moody, another dual-threat prospect in the class of 2012. Moody has offers from other ACC programs such as Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech, along with an offer from Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks. Here’s a highlight clip for those who want to see more.
For most of you, this is a holiday weekend, and we wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day. For those of us here at BDN Premium, it will be a busy weekend, and we hope you’ll come back for the best AAU and Duke football recruiting coverage around. WE ARE DUKE.
The Duke staff has recruited California well in recent years, and that trend continues in the class of 2012, as the Blue Devils received their 4th verbal commitment on Wednesday from a Golden State prospect. Deion Williams, a 6’0” 215 pound outside linebacker prospect from Orange Lutheran, called Coach Cutcliffe Wednesday and informed him of his decision. The 2nd team All-Trinity League honoree should help to fill the Blue Devils’ need for a hard-hitting linebacker. A standout both on the field and in the classroom, Duke was the first school to offer Williams and he was able to visit Durham earlier this spring for an unofficial visit. The newest Blue Devil checked in with BDN shortly after his decision.
BDN: How did you come to your decision?
I actually just called Coach Cutcliffe today and sealed the deal. I was thinking about going to visit other places and see if anywhere else was a better fit for me, but the more and more I thought about it, the more I realized that nowhere else would prepare me for my future like Duke would.
BDN: What other schools were you considering?
I was looking for Stanford to show some interest but they haven’t, and Washington as well, but they haven’t shown me any real interest.
BDN: What was it about Duke that really stood out to you and helped you make your decision?
Well, Duke, it’s a very beautiful place, a very beautiful campus, so that really stood out to me. And then just what I want to do with my life, the study of genetics, and going into that field, I feel like Duke has one of the best programs in the world, and a lot of other people feel that way as well, so they were just the best fit for me going into college.
BDN: Congratulations, Deion, and best of luck to you.
Duke received their verbal third commitment in the class of 2012 on Wednesday night, as Florida safety Dwayne Norman pulled the trigger for the Blue Devils. Norman is a 6'0" 185 pound prospect from University Christian in Jacksonville, Florida. The speedy junior spoke with the Blue Devil coaching staff on Wednesday evening and informed them of his decision.
Duke was the first school to offer a scholarship to Norman and has been recruiting him the hardest this spring. Norman also had high interest in Georgia Tech and South Carolina. The hard-hitting safety also had scholarship offers from Miami (OH) and Florida Atlantic, and had been in contact with Vanderbilt.
BDN spoke to Dwayne earlier this spring, and it was clear that the Blue Devils had made a strong impression on him after taking a visit to Durham back in March. Check back with BDN later for more from Dwayne on his decision.