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!
In the midst of a scholarship crunch, the Duke coaching staff has secured 14 verbal commitments in the class of 2012, and may only have one or two remaining scholarships available. With four upperclassmen at running back in 2011, an elite running back remains Duke’s biggest need in the class of 2012. Specifically, the Duke staff is looking for a player who can come in and contribute early, and they believe they found exactly that type of athlete just down I-85 in Charlotte. After an impressive performance at Duke’s camp earlier this summer, Mallard Creek’s Jela Duncan remains at the top of the Blue Devils' list. [private]
Duncan is a 5'10" 190 pound prospect who posted a blazing 4.23 second 40-yard dash in Durham in June. In his first full season at running back, Duncan helped Mallard Creek to a 13-1 record, rushing for 1,375 yards on 101 carries with 17 touchdowns, despite missing three games. His junior year performance earned 1st Team I-Meck Conference and plenty of attention from college coaches and scouts, making him a consensus top-40 RB prospect nationally. To date, Duncan has picked up scholarship offers from Duke, ECU, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Wake Forest, and Western Michigan. The star tailback has been busy on the camp circuit this summer, and checked back in with BDN to update Duke fans on his recruitment.
BDN: Where do things stand with scholarship offers?
I still have the same offers from last time I talked to you, but South Carolina came into the picture. They said they should be offering me because I went down there to their showcase on Friday and performed really good. Coach Graham and Coach Spurrier really liked me.
BDN: So you were at South Carolina last weekend; have you been to any other camps recently, or do you have any planned?
Just South Carolina, that’s it right now. I’ve got an unofficial coming up on Friday to Carolina, North Carolina, so I can go up there and get evaluated.
BDN: Will that be your first visit to UNC?
Yeah, it’s going to be my first time visiting there, but I’ve driven through the campus and stuff.
BDN: Overall, what schools stand out to you at this point?
Duke is my leader for now.
BDN: Where would you say you stand with your recruitment – would you say you are hoping for more offers, or are you trying to narrow things down?
I’m going to try and stay up and earn some more offers during the season. I’ll probably narrow my offers down, I want to say probably towards the end of the season.
BDN: So is your plan to narrow things down towards the end of your season and then take your official visits?
BDN: Thanks a lot, Jela, and best of luck in your senior year.
With fall training camp just one month away, the Duke coaching staff is hoping to close out their July by adding the final pieces to the class of 2012. The Blue Devils have already had a busy summer, securing 13 verbal commitments before Independence Day. Looking at the projected Duke roster, however, there are a few noticeable missing pieces. With four upperclassmen projected at the position, running back appears to be one of the Blue Devils' biggest remaining needs. The Duke coaching staff has demonstrated a willingness to play true freshmen in the backfield, with in-state stars Desmond Scott and Josh Snead both receiving carries in their first year in Durham. In the class of 2012, it's no secret that the Blue Devils have two more in-state running backs at the top of their wish list, hoping to continue the trend. [private]
Jela Duncan is a 5'10" 190 pound running back from Mallard Creek HS in Charlotte, NC. In his first full season at running back, Duncan helped Mallard Creek to a 13-1 record, rushing for 1,375 yards on 101 carries with 17 touchdowns, despite missing three games. His junior year performance earned 1st Team I-Meck Conference and plenty of attention from college coaches. Now that he is approaching double digit scholarship offers, including Pittsburgh, Purdue, and Wake Forest, it's safe to say his recruitment is in full swing. Duke hopes that Duncan will join a growing pipeline of young players from the Greater Charlotte area, including OL Casey Blaser, LB Kelby Brown, LB Kyler Brown, WR Jamison Crowder, DL Carson Ginn, LB Britton Grier and DL Carlos Wray. After an impressive performance at Duke's camp in June, Duncan could be the next impact freshman running back in Durham.
BDN: What are some of your strengths as a running back?
I would have to say I’m a power back, but I have great speed, too.. I’m more cut and go, I can catch it out of the backfield, I have really good hands, and I just like to make plays for my team.
BDN: What have you been working on this summer?
Footwoork and speed, speed training. I’ve been in the weight room, so mostly all-around.
BDN: What are your goals for your senior year?
State championship, first of all. And I’m hoping to go over 2,000 yards this year.
BDN: As you approach your college decision, what are you looking for in a school?
I want it to feel like it’s home, like all the players are just one, the coaches are one, they’re real with me. They like hard work just like I like hard work, and it’s just a family football environment.
BDN: Which schools have been recruiting you the hardest this summer?
Duke, first of all. And then Purdue started to come into the picture, and Pittsburgh.
BDN: Which schools have you had a chance to visit so far?
I went up to Duke for their football camp about three weeks ago. And I’ve been to NC State two weeks ago, and I’ve been up to Virginia and Virginia Tech.
BDN: What were some of the things that stood out on your visits?
Well, the Virginia Tech visit, it was really exciting. The fans are just crazy. When we first pulled up, they were all out there tailgating for their spring game. It was almost full, it was amazing how loyal those fans are up there.
Duke, it was really good. The players were bonded together. They seemed like they were one family. There was one guy, he left his iPod on the charger, and it was just sitting there, nobody touched it, then he came back and it was still there. It was great to see.
The Virginia visit, it was pretty cool. It was a pretty cool visit. I went up there for a spring basketball game, so I didn’t get to chill with the players very much, but they seemed pretty cool though.
NC State – that went pretty good. I got to met the head coach. He seemed like a really cool guy, he seemed like he wanted to win some ball games.
BDN: What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
Well, we’ve got a national 7-on-7 to go to this Thursday, so we’ll be training for that the next two days. I probably won’t go on any more visits or camps, well I might go to the Wake Forest camp, that will probably be my last one.
BDN: Do you have an idea for when or how you would like to narrow things down?
It’s just going to have to come to me, because I’m not planning on making the decision anytime soon, really.
BDN: Is there anything else you want college football fans to know about you?
I’m a hard worker, I love hard work, I love it, that’s what drives me and my team.
With the impending graduation of Cooper Helfet and Danny Parker, Duke is looking to reload at the tight end position in the class of 2012. On Saturday, the Blue Devils did that, securing a commitment from top in-state TE Dan Beilinson. Beilinson is a 6’5” 220 pound prospect from Panther Creek HS in Cary. As a junior, Beilinson caught 37 passes for over 500 yards, helping Panther Creek to a conference title and the state regional playoffs. His performance earned him 1st Team Tri-Nine All-Conference, among many other accolades. Highlights from Dan’s junior year can be viewed here. Beilinson chose the Blue Devils over offers from NC State, Wake Forest, Miami, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Indiana, and ECU. Along with another verbal commitment, Erich Schneider, Beilinson has helped Duke successfully reload at tight end in 2012.
Welcome to Duke, Dan!
BDN caught up with Dan shortly after his commitment on Saturday.
BDN: How did you come to your decision to commit to Duke today?
Ok, yeah I guess I just decided to commit today, it was just kind of a gut feeling. I asked myself where I wanted to go and I said Duke and it just felt right.
BDN: How did you let the coaches know and what did they have to say to you?
I gave Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Middleton a phone call and they were both really excited, and I’m really excited right now as well and hopefully we’ll have a good time working together.
BDN: Now that you’ve got your decision out of the way, what are your plans for the rest of your summer?
I don’t really have any plans, just going to go to school workouts and focus on my senior year now.
BDN: Well best of luck with your senior year and I know Duke fans are excited to have you part of the Blue Devil family. Thanks a lot and congratulations on your commitment.
With the impending graduation of Cooper Helfet and Danny Parker, Duke will be looking to reload at the tight end position in the class of 2012. After an early verbal commitment from Florida prospect Erich Schneider, the Blue Devils have remained focused on a local prospect to fill their remaining spot at tight end. Dan Beilinson is a 6’5” 220 pound tight end from Cary, North Carolina. As a junior, Beilinson caught 37 passes for over 500 yards, helping Panther Creek HS to a conference title and the state regional playoffs. One of the top tight end prospects in the state, his performance earned him 1st Team Tri-Nine All-Conference, among many other accolades. Highlights from Dan’s junior year can be viewed here. With eight scholarship offers in hand and interest from several other schools, Beilinson has narrowed his college choices to three finalists. [private]
BDN: Where are you in your recruiting process?
I’d say I’ve basically narrowed the schools down basically to NC State, Duke, and Wake Forest, and I’m just trying to figure out which of those schools is the best fit for me. I’m not really looking at this point for anything else, I’m just trying to decide between those three schools.
BDN: Have you had a chance to visit your finalists recently?
Yes, last weekend I actually visited all three of them.
BDN: You’ve obviously had a chance to visit these schools a few times now; what are the specific things you have been evaluating on your more recent visits?
I’m just trying to see the best relationship with a coach that I can establish, how they coach and how that relates to me. Just try to see what they’re doing and just try to evaluate based on that.
BDN: It sounds like the relationship you are developing with the coaches is important; which coaches are you closest with?
At NC State, Coach Archer would be the recruiter for my area so I’ve got to know him pretty well. And then the former tight end coach, Coach Bridge, I know him very well and I’m establishing with the new tight end coach, Coach Horton, so I’m developing a relationship there. At Duke, mainly I know Coach Middleton and Coach Cutcliffe very well, and some of the other coaches I’ve established contact with. And then at Wake Forest, Coach Russ and Coach Tereshinski have been the two main people that I’ve talked to.
BDN: What stood out to you about each of your three finalists?
They’re all very good educational schools. If I choose to got to [NC] State or Duke, I’d probably do engineering and then if I go to Wake Forest, I’d probably do more of a science field. So in all aspects the education is really good and that’s really appealing to me. And then in football, all the programs are either rising or already good, so that adds more to the effect.
BDN: When do you expect to make your final decision?
I hope, in my head it just kind of happens, but it could be soon, or it could go past the season, I really don’t know, but it might be soon, I’m not sure.