Head coach Ted Roof shocked the recruiting world by securing a commitment from five-star prospect Vince Oghobaase, a recruit who brought instant credibility to Duke"s recruiting efforts.
But with just three weekends between today and the Feb. 2 Signing Day, the Blue Devils still have a number of positional needs to fill on both sides of the ball. The Blue Devils will look to stockpile quality running backs, linebackers and linemen for the upcoming season.
Two of Duke"s top prospects, tailbacks Patrick Jackson and Clifford Harris, will be on campus this weekend. Quick and elusive, Jackson and Harris are among the top prospects in the state of Louisiana.
'Duke"s got a realistic shot of landing one or both of those guys,' said scout.com analyst Jamie Newberg. '[They are] two outstanding running back prospects with the academics to do well at Duke, and they would certainly help out that football team, there"s no question.'
Jackson broke Louisiana single-season rushing and scoring records last year, rushing for 3,018 yards and scoring 54 total touchdowns. A shifty runner, Jackson"s efforts helped his team to win a state championship and caught the eye of college coaches around the country.
'Everybody, all the SEC schools, all the schools locally in Louisiana and the neighboring states are recruiting him,' said Laury Dupont, Jackson"s high school coach, adding that Jackson would likely choose between Duke, LSU, Tulane, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech and Michigan State.
Harris, another stellar student, has received attention from Notre Dame, Louisville and Navy, among others. Both he and Jackson could add punch to a Duke rushing attack that was devastated by injuries and finished 10th in the ACC last season.
In addition, the Duke coaches hope to bolster their offense with tight end Colin Peek. The Jacksonville, Fla., native was relatively unknown before his senior season because a leg injury kept him out of most of his junior campaign. He rapidly went from obscurity to distinction as an elite tight end as he led The Bolles School to an undefeated season. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound prospect has been recognized by coaches and scouts particularly for run blocking. Peek, who will visit Duke Jan. 21, has a list of schools that also includes Alabama, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma.
'People got to see what he was doing this year and he had a wonderful year,' Bolles head coach Corky Rogers said. 'The longer he played, the more people got to see what kind of player he is, and his stock has risen quickly.'On the defensive side of the ball, the Blue Devils will look to restock a linebacking corps that loses senior Giuseppe Aguanno to graduation. Linebacker Paul Thornton could help fill that void, however.
According to scout.com, the Katy, Texas, standout will make a visit to Duke this weekend and is strongly considering giving Duke a verbal commitment. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound prospect had more than 100 tackles last season and is entertaining scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Missouri, Kansas and Northwestern, among others.
Another top linebacker leaning toward Duke is Adam Leonard from Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, Wash. Leonard, who has had season-ending knee injuries the last two seasons, said he should be back to full strength by May. Leonard played under former Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel, and his knowledge of the game could allow him to play immediately.
'He understands the game really well,' Rainier Beach coach Mark Haley said. 'He is like another coach on the field.'
Leonard is also being recruited by UCLA but maintains that Duke is still his favorite. As with many recruits attracted or committed to Duke, Leonard cited his relationship with the coaching staff as the main draw to the program.
'I have a lot of trust in the coaching staff,' Leonard said. 'A lot of the time this is treated as a business and coaches treat players as a product because their job is on the line. You kind of lose that assurance of trust, but with the Duke staff, I have a lot of trust in them, and how they believe in what I can do when I get back.'
Leonard"s official visit to Duke was initially scheduled for this weekend but was later canceled. He does, however, plan to reschedule a visit.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.