Duke Continues To Build With Good Recruiting

Duke has gone to three consecutive bowl games, won the ACC Coastal division in 2013 and posted a record of 19-8 over the last two seasons. Despite these accomplishments, there is an odd insistence among many ACC followers that Duke football is a flash in the pan.

What David Cutcliffe has accomplished in his time at Duke is nothing short of remarkable. It would seem that the people who doubt his program’s staying power simply don’t want to believe the Blue Devils are actually good at football based on some misplaced feeling of superiority.

Wallace-Wade Stadium currently undergoing significant renovations but that’s not the only part of Duke’s program under construction. Cutcliffe and company have been busy on the recruiting trail trying to make sure the future is sound in Durham by continuing to build the roster. A look at this season’s Blue Devil recruits won’t blow you away, but it’s a group with lots of potential. The 2016 class is also off to a very impressive start.

Duke already has five commitments for 2016 including a number of prospects snagged out from under the noses of other ACC programs. Three players from Virginia including 4-star talents Scott Bracey (ATH) and Mark Birmingham (TE) plus 4-star athlete and Charlotte, NC native Elijah Deveaux have pledged to Duke.

There’s no question that the Blue Devils are recruiting aggressively within the geographic footprint of the ACC and the strategy is beginning to pay dividends. The program is on the rise, so much so that David Cutcliffe has turned down a number of higher-profile opportunities to coach at traditional powers in recent years.

Ben Humphreys, Linebacker

  • 4-star recruit
  • 6’1″, 200 pounds
  • Santa Ana, CA (Mater Dei)

Without question, Ben Humphreys is the biggest recruit for the Blue Devils in this group. The 4-star linebacker is a product of traditional powerhouse Mater Dei High School in California and helps address a significant need for the program. Leading tackler David Helton graduated as did fellow linebacker C.J. France (59 tackles, 6th on team). Senior Kelby Brown was granted a medical hardship waiver after tearing his ACL during the 2014-15 preseason, but depth is desperately needed at linebacker. Humphreys played some safety and corner as well as linebacker. He shows solid cover skills and has good recovery speed. He can also hit.


Trevon McSwain, Defensive End

  • 3-star recruit
  • 6’5″, 255 pounds
  • Buford, GA (Lambert)

McSwain had an impressive offer list including Nebraska, Tennessee and Wisconsin as well as a number of ACC schools including Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Louisville. McSwain is a big kid with good speed off the edge for his size. He’s a strong tackler who plays well in pursuit. He has the potential to be a very versatile player along the Duke defensive line. McSwain will join his cousin, fellow 3-star defensive end Marquies Price who enrolled at Duke in January. In a couple of years, you could very easily see the cousins manning opposite sides of the defensive line in Durham at the end spots.



TJ Rahming, Wide Receiver

  • 3-star recruit
  • 5’8″, 150 pounds
  • Powder Springs, GA (McEachern)

Don’t let Rahming’s size fool you, this kid can play. He certainly needs to bulk up if he wants to absorb hits in college, but he’s quick, elusive, and uses his size to his advantage. Rahming chose Duke over offers from Tennessee, Mississippi State, Kansas State and many others. He was selected to play in the Army All-America Bowl as well as being named USA Today wide receiver of the Year for the State of Georgia. 247Sports rates him as the 40th best receiver in the country and the 33rd best player in Georgia.

Jeremy McDuffie, Corner

  • 3-star recruit
  • 5’11”, 170 pounds
  • Snellville, GA (Shiloh)

An ACL injury caused some schools to cool a bit on McDuffie, but his offer list is certainly a head-turner. South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, most of the Big Ten and ACC clubs like Louisville and Georgia Tech all sought his services. That’s what happens when you’re a track star with 4.5 speed and decent size at corner. He tackles well for being a bit light but that will only improve with time in the weight room. His speed allows him to play aggressively in coverage and still recover. Assuming he fully heals, this is a another nice pickup for Duke.


Zach Baker, Center

  • 3-star recruit
  • 6’3″, 290 pounds
  • Green Cove Springs, FL (Clay)

Duke’s recent success is thanks largely to a surprisingly stout offensive line. Depth is crucial and the Blue Devils will lose six offensive lineman to graduation next year. 247Sports ranks Baker the 21st best center in the country and the 200th best player in Florida. He chose Duke over reported offers from West Virginia, Oregon State, Cincinnati and Georgia Tech among many others. He’s got good size already as a freshman and will surely add to his frame before being called upon to anchor the o-line.


Reno Rosene, Offensive Tackle

  • 3-star recruit
  • 6’6″, 335 pounds
  • Thousand Oaks, CA (Oaks Christian)

This guy is an absolute monster and as close to a surefire difference maker on the offensive line as you’ll come by. Rosene routinely pushes defenders five and ten yards backwards, casting them casually aside like a debutante would potential suitors. He chose Duke over an impressive offer list including Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Arizona State. As an offensive lineman, a scholarship offer from the Badgers is just about the highest level of approval one can hope for. Rosene enrolled early at Duke and given his natural ability and size, it shouldn’t take too long for him to crack the two-deep up front.


Duke has put together some impressive talent and done so primarily by dipping heavily into Georgia. It will come as a surprise to many how often the Blue Devils came out on top when they went head-to-head with ACC and SEC schools for prospects. Duke addressed big needs on defense up the middle with some promising lineman and a stud linebacker. On offense they reloaded at receiver and got some big kids to help bolster the o-line. Duke will likely take a step back this season dealing with some key losses including quarterback Anthony Boone. Still, I see seven or eight wins for the Blue Devils given their fairly easy schedule (no Florida State or Clemson). The days of writing off Duke as a lost cause are over, and they aren’t coming back any time soon.

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