'A really exciting group': A look at Duke football's 2024 recruiting class after early signing day

Jordan Moore's younger brother is one of many recruits in Duke's newest crop of talent.
Jordan Moore's younger brother is one of many recruits in Duke's newest crop of talent.

The 2023 Early Signing Day is in the books, and the first recruiting class for new Duke head coach Manny Diaz is officially underway. 

“I’m mostly thankful to the individuals who did sign with us today,” Diaz said at a Wednesday press conference. “It's always very difficult and when there is a coaching change, there is a period of uncertainty.”

The Blue Devils received a total of 16 commits in this period, and its class of 2024 is currently ranked No. 53 in the country

“It's a really exciting group, a lot of diversity positionally,” Diaz said. “I feel really good about the additions we made on the offensive line and defensive line, but really, we've got guys all over the yard that we think that can help us.”

Here are the early signees for Duke’s 2024 class. 

WR Chase Tyler: After the decommitment of Tyler Cherry prior to National Signing Day, Duke kept its crown jewel heading into the day, as the 6-foot-2 receiver projects as an impact player right away for reported new offensive coordinator Jonathan Brewer. The Powder Springs, Ga., native racked up an impressive 31 offers from schools such as Southern California, Tennessee and Michigan before ultimately locking in with Duke.

“He’s got a great stride,” Diaz said. “He can make contested catches … you’ve got to be explosive and got to throw the ball deep.”

LB Derrick Brown Jr.: Brown is expected to play middle linebacker for the Blue Devils, and the Avon Old Farms School product ranks as the 10th-best prospect in Connecticut. However, the 123rd-best linebacker recruit is originally from Waxhaw, N.C., and Duke locked in Brown over hometown school Charlotte. 

“A guy like him has flexibility because he's coming off the edge,” Diaz said. “If you want to get a lot of tackles for loss and you want to get a lot of sacks, you need to get some guys to get back there in the backfield.”

Edge Kobe Smith: Duke added a highly touted pass rusher to next year’s roster, as Smith ranks as the 32nd-best edge in the class and the 10th-best player in Tennessee. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native chose the Blue Devils over Vanderbilt, and likely will play early if the defensive line rotation operates similarly under Diaz’s system.

“A state champion as a wrestler, and then to place in the 300m hurdles, which, the 300 hurdles is a grown man's event,” Diaz said. “So you're a unique type of athlete and with wrestling, the ability to understand escapes, getting off blocks, using your hands, the balance, the toughness, this is a really, really, special type of athlete.”

TE Brett Elliott: After presumably losing Nicky Dalmolin and Cole Finney to graduation, Duke found a way to replenish the tight end room in Elliott, who was tabbed as the 69th-best tight end in the country. The Holliston, Mass., native is ranked as the sixth-best player in the state, and boasts a 6-foot-3 frame that will make him an excellent target for whoever plays under center for the Blue Devils. 

“Tight ends are such fun chess pieces on the board,” Diaz said. “What jumps off the tape and you don't see a lot of in high school football now is a guy that has his hand in the dirt as an inline guy. When that guy is a threat as a past catcher as well, those are the guys that defenses have a hard time with.”

P Kade Reynoldson: After the departure of one of the better punters in the country in Porter Wilson, Duke looked down under for its next one. Reynoldson is a 6-foot punter from Queensland, Australia, who has both the rugby and traditional punting style in his arsenal.

“The ball just rockets off his leg,” Diaz said. “The other thing they give you great value on is that they can punt in the pocket but they can also roll out, and then when you can roll out and punt the ball to the right or roll out and punt the ball back to your left, it's hard to scheme up a punt block against that.”

WR Jayden Moore: Duke adds its third Moore to its offensive attack, as Jayden Moore will be next up at wideout for the Blue Devils. The 5-foot-8 slot receiver ranks as the No. 153 receiver in the country and the 36th-best player in Maryland, and is also the little brother of current star receiver Jordan Moore, creating a sibling tandem at wideout for 2024. 

“You see the ability to manipulate the middle of the field,” Diaz said. “What shows up is taking short [catches] and being able to turn them into long ones. This is a real football player.”

IOL Bradley Smith: The Woodward Academy product, who chose Duke over Kentucky and N.C. State, among others, is ranked as the 98th-best interior offensive lineman in the nation. Smith projects to play center for the Blue Devils with an opportunity to take over the vacant role left by the graduation of Jacob Monk and Scott Elliott, as Smith ranks as the fifth-best center in the class according to Rivals.com. He also allowed zero sacks during his high school career.

“Great value to have someone used to snapping the football in high school,” Diaz said. “He is not just pushing guys but he is exploding through them.”

DT Preston Watson: Diaz added some much needed depth to the defensive tackle room that is losing stalwarts DeWayne Carter and Ja’Mion Franklin, as the 94th-best defensive lineman in the nation will have a chance to play right away for the Blue Devils. Watson comes in at 6-foot-1 and 271 pounds, and the Seminole High School product infuses some athleticism into the unit, as he also played basketball. In his career, he recorded 172 tackles for loss and 20 sacks.

“When you have the push in the middle, there is really nowhere for the quarterback to go,” Diaz said. “When they can be big and move like this… it’s noticeable.”

OT Jack Small: Despite the name, the offensive tackle brings impressive size to the offensive line, as the tackle comes in at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds. The Northvale, N.J., native, who chose Duke over Syracuse and Virginia, will likely have an opportunity to play tackle in 2024 due to the departure of star left tackle Graham Barton and graduate student Jake Hornibrook. 

“These guys are hard to find, with that length and that ability to bend and move,” Diaz said. “You’ve got to block these great defensive ends that we have in this conference so someone with that type of arm length and that type of athleticism gives you a chance.”

ATH Landan Callahan: Duke was able to keep one of its highly-touted recruits in Callahan, who is the 55th-best athlete in the 2024 class. The Rural Hall, N.C., native projects to play defensive back for the Blue Devils, and was recently named Defensive MVP of the Shrine Bowl, which is a game played against the top players in North and South Carolina. 

“You can see the way he catches the ball naturally, he tracks it very well,” Diaz said. “A guy that adds a lot of value to a team and a guy that we will be really counting on to make an impact for us.” 

IOL Gemyel Allen: Duke added another highly ranked center in the class, as Allen ranks as the third-best one in this class according to ESPN. The Buford, Ga., native chose the Blue Devils over Virginia and will compete with Smith for what seems to be an open center position. 

“You can tell he's an explosive guy by the fact that he throws shot and discus, which means he's got good feet,” Diaz said. “If you have a lot of guys with an attitude like [Allen’s], you’re going to have a dominant offensive line.”

CB Zach Jackson: The Blue Devils tied down a commitment to two of their athletic programs with Jackson, as the Smyrna, Ga., native will play both football and baseball at Duke. The three-star ranks as the 108th-best corner in the class and chose Duke over Georgia Tech. 

“19 career interceptions … everyone knows that turnovers win you games,” Diaz said. “Love the flexibility he has, the versatility he has and a guy that can affect winning.”

LB Montreze Smith: Smith is a three-star linebacker who chose Duke over Appalachian State and Boston College. He will provide athleticism to the room as the 75th-best linebacker in the country. The Temple, Ga., native was also a track athlete and won numerous regional accolades. 

“32 career tackles for losses so obviously he knows his way to the backfield,” Diaz said. We’re really excited about [Smith’s] skillset and what he can bring to the program.”

ATH Vontae Floyd: Floyd is a versatile player who played nickel in high school in Norfolk, Va. The three-time Virginia All-State honoree is ranked as the 36th-best player in his state and could see action at numerous positions for the Blue Devils. 

“You see the ability to play both sides, track the ball in the air, special teams value,” Diaz said. “When you have great guys who are top guys at winning programs they know how to set the tone in the locker room,” Diaz said.

DE Tyshon Reed: Duke picked up another key piece to the front seven, as Reed is a 6-foot-3 edge rusher from Moultrie, Ga. He has great size and is a force on the line as the 76th best edge in his class. He recorded 107 career tackles and six sacks. After multiple veteran defensive lineman are no longer with the Blue Devils, Reed could see his name called early. 

“You always look for guys with his frame,” Diaz said. “It's hard to be great on defense if you don't have a mismatch at those spots and we feel that this could be another example where we can create those types of mismatches.”

CB Kyren Condoll: Condoll is a three-star prospect from Fontana, Calif., who chose Duke over Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College and California. He is a 6-foot-2 defensive back who had 55 tackles and two fumbles forced in the 2023 season. Condoll was widely recruited on the West Coast, but will boost the Blue Devil secondary which is becoming increasingly thin with the transfer portal. 

“When we evaluate DBs, it's fun to watch the interceptions and the PBUs and whatnot, but to play, you've got to be able to tackle,” Diaz said. “He loves to tackle, and you can't have a great secondary without being a great tackler.”

There are still members of the 2024 class that will likely sign in February, but this group is mostly complete. Diaz mentioned that roughly a half-dozen signees are early enrollees and will come to campus in January. 

Despite the signings, there were a couple of decommits from the team, as three-star prospects Paul Mencke Jr. and Mason Wade flipped to Washington and Clemson, respectively. Mencke, a safety from Schertz, Texas, was highly touted across the country and grew closer to the Huskies after former head coach Mike Elko’s departure. Wade was pursued by new Tiger offensive line coach Matt Luke. 

Duke faces Troy Dec. 23 in the Birmingham Bowl. 

Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Sports Editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and sports editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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