Defensive tackle Tahj Rice is headed to the Duke Blue Devils following a standout career at Waggener Trad High School in Louisville, Kentucky.
The 4-star prospect announced his commitment to the Blue Devils in a creative video posted by the Courier-Journal:
Rice is the 176th-ranked overall player in the class of 2018, per Scout.com, and the 15th-ranked player among all recruits at his position. More impressively, Rice is the top-rated defensive tackle in the Midwest region and the state of Kentucky.
A physical menace along the defensive line, Rice has a rare blend of speed and strength for a player who checks in at 6'3" and 302 pounds.
"Tahj is genetically blessed to say the least," Rice's trainer Chris Vaughn said in April 2016, according to the Courier-Journal's Steve Jones. "He's got some of the strongest legs I've seen on any level, let alone a 16-year-old kid." Vaughn also referred to Rice as "very cerebral" and "very coachable," per Jones.
Those qualities should aid Rice's cause at the next level.
Speaking of which, Rice has the ability to emerge as a versatile threat once he suits up for the Blue Devils.
Rice's strength allows him to devastate interior linemen with bull rushes and dart into the backfield as a classic 3-technique, but his burst off the line could make him a viable option as a 5-technique.
Rice has the well-rounded physical skill set necessary to carve out at least a rotational role from the outset. Starting snaps could prove elusive during his freshman season, but he is a high-impact talent capable of wreaking havoc in doses as he transitions to life at Duke.
Rice's commitment is a huge early get for Duke and head coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils developed a level consistency in the ACC prior to 2016 the likes of which this program has never seen.
From 2012 to 2015, Duke made four straight bowl appearances for the first time in school history. The Blue Devils won 27 games over three years from 2013 to 2015, the best three-year period in program history.
Last season saw the Blue Devils fall to 4-8, and they finished 10th out of 14 ACC programs in recruiting this year, per Scout.com. This isn't a program that will often lure in top-tier recruits, but it has found a niche in recent years to be successful.
Rice's pledge to be part of the 2018 squad will ensure Duke doesn't stay down for long.
Recruit information courtesy of Scout.com.