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Five-star recruit lands under Blue Devils' tree

This Christmas season, head coach Ted Roof and the Blue Devils received their biggest present in decades.

Defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase, one of scout.com"s top 50 players nationwide, committed to Duke Dec. 22, spurning scholarship offers from Miami, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Arizona, among others. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Oghobaase, who had more than 30 scholarship offers, is the first five-star football prospect to choose the Blue Devils in at least 10 years.

'They said I could be the Johnny Dawkins of Duke football,' Oghobaase said, recalling the player who elevated Duke"s basketball program to national prominence. 'They"ve never had a recruit of my caliber come to Duke.'

For Oghobaase, the allure of being a program-changing recruit at Duke factored heavily into his decision.

'I really liked what the coaches have got going for this football program,' Oghobaase said. 'They"ve been down the past few seasons, but I really believe in my heart that they"ll get this turned around real soon.'

As is the case for many of Duke"s high-profile football commitments, academics played a major role in Oghobaase"s decision. The star defensive tackle, who plans to major in mechanical engineering, graduated high school a semester early and began classes at Duke Wednesday.

'The reason I chose Duke was because I thought of the education that Duke had to offer me and the opportunity they had after football,' Oghobaase said. 'There"s no telling what I could do with a Duke degree; you can"t beat Duke academics.'

Hastings High School coach Wade Luker said it is clear why the versatile lineman was one of the nation"s elite recruiting targets.

'He runs well, he"s extremely strong, and he"s a very intelligent kid. You put all those things in one body and you"ve got a chance to have a pretty good player,' Luker said. 'He"s got all the tools he needs to be a really good football player; he just needs to keep working.'

In addition, Oghobaase"s commitment brings instant credibility to Roof"s recruiting efforts. The addition of the Alief, Texas native to a class that already has seven three-star commitments gives Duke a top-30 recruiting class. Scout.com national recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg said Duke"s continued efforts to bring in top talent could make the class one of the nation"s top 20 by the Feb. 2 National Signing Day.

'He"s a phenomenal player,' Newberg said. 'It"s a need area, he"s already there.... You"re talking about a 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6, 300-plus [pound] defensive tackle. Those guys don"t grow on trees. It"s a real credit to Coach Roof and his staff to go out and get him.'

As a result, Oghobaase looks to get immediate playing time at defensive tackle next season, where the Blue Devils lose senior Orrin Thompson to graduation. Along with defensive ends Clifford Respress and Ayanga Okpokowuruk, Oghobaase becomes the star of a defensive line class that could turn one of Duke"s biggest weaknesses into one of its biggest strengths. And Oghobaase said this class, coupled with a maturing team, could make Duke a winning team sooner rather than later.

'Don"t be shocked this year when we"re going to a bowl game. That"s all I"ve got to say,' Oghobaase said.

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