Duke Football Making Recruting Strides As Signing Day Nears

Mike KlineAnalyst IJanuary 29, 2010

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 14:  The Duke Blue Devils take the field before the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

David Cutcliffe has had a busy offseason and it has nothing to do with his decision not to leave Duke and take the Tennessee job.

Duke Football fans, meanwhile, are anticipating the influx of Cutcliffe's second full recruiting class as national signing day approaches.

The Blue Devils will have to replace 14 seniors who graduated, most notably quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase.

Fortunately for the Devils, Cutcliffe hasn't rested on the laurels of moderate success.

The culture at Duke is different now. While going 5-7 in Durham may have been a pleasant surprise, from here on out anything less than a bowl eligible season will be unacceptable for Cutcliffe and his players.

Replacing key components of this past years team will start at quarterback. Sean Renfree, once he returns from an injured knee, is expected to take over for Lewis.

Duke still needs to find a replacement on the defensive line and will have to replace long time center Brian Morgan, who also graduated.

The Blue Devils have targeted many in state recruits and are starting to make a dent there. But Cutcliffe hasn't shied away from the four or five star recruits just because it is Duke.

While the Devils missed out on defensive end Kareem Martin, a North Carolina product out of Roanoke Rapids High School, they are still awaiting the decision from highly touted offensive lineman Matt James.

James, a four-star recruit from Ohio, according to Rivals, has Duke listed among his college choices. He is also considering Florida, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Tennessee among others.

Whether Duke lands James it remains to be seen, but it shows that Cutcliffe isn't afraid to go to battle with the big boys for the best players.

Don't expect a highly regarded class for Duke in 2010 though. Duke still has years of negative stigma and a tough academic standard working against them. But Cutcliffe with results and reputation is changing things.

They, however, have already signed or gotten verbal commitments from 19 recruits, including quarterback Anthony Boone.

Duke, much like Wake Forest is trying to go after players deemed too small for the major programs.

So far Wake has managed to have successful seasons by redshirting lots of freshmen in order to make them stronger and bigger. In a way, Deacons Coach Jim Grobe has created a road map for Cutcliffe to build his program.

Not that Cutcliffe needed help from his friend in Winston Salem, but Grobe has shown that his model for recruiting can lead to success. That success includes one ACC Championship and an Orange Bowl berth.

Duke needs to land some offensive and defensive lineman in this latest haul. They have plenty of targets in both areas. 

Cutcliffe's dismissal of projected starter John Drew, who was expected to try and help fill the enormous void, both physically and skill wise, left by Oghobaase's departure is especially important.

Duke fans can still expect to see many freshmen getting playing time, but as Cutcliffe continues to improve the Blue Devils from the ground up, the future will include more redshirts.

Once Duke can do that, the future will be all the brighter.