Besides college football, I love the college basketball game, also. I don’t love it as much as football, but I have always followed it and particularly when it comes time for the NCAA Tournament to determine the national champion.
If you watch college basketball at all, chances are you have heard Dick Vitale comment on a game. He is very loud and very knowledgeable about the game of basketball. Some people hate him, but I like the guy.
Dick Vitale makes no secret of his affection for the Duke Blue Devils and their legendary coach Mike Krzyewski. He probably also loved Christian Laettner.
Duke is a basketball school.
But, head football coach David Cutcliffe is doing his part to at least get his football program noticed.
Cutcliffe was an assistant coach at Tennessee when Heath Shuler and then Peyton Manning were there. He is credited with helping both of them develop into top Quarterbacks. Shuler was a disappointment in the NFL, but obviously Manning was not.
Cutcliffe got the head coaching job at Ole Miss and while there he landed Eli Manning. Cutcliffe led Ole Miss to a 10-3 record in 2003 and then was fired the following season when the Rebels fell to 4-7.
In 2008, David Cutcliffe was hired at Duke as their next head coach. It was no walk in the park for Cutcliffe, but he had taken over a program that had struggled to win 1 game the previous season.
In his first season, Duke improved to 4-8. They improved slightly again in 2009 with a 5-7 record. But, the next 2 seasons looked hopeless for David Cutcliffe and Duke. They flopped around and managed only to win 3 games both seasons. The future looked bleak.
But, it didn’t look bleak for long with the Blue Devils finishing the 2012 season at 6-6 before losing in the Belk Bowl to complete a 6-7 season. Sure, the 6 wins won’t cut it at most schools, but this is Duke we are talking about and it was improvement from 3-9.
The following season was incredible as the Duke Blue Devils raced out to a 10-2 start and winning the ACC Coastal before losing to national champion Florida State in the ACC Championship Game and then to Johnny Manziel and Texas A%M by a close score in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
In 2014 the Blue Devils had another good season finishing up at 9-4. For Alabama that is not a good season, but for Duke it’s really good.
Last season, they were in the running for the ACC Coastal again with a 6-1 record, before they lost 4 in a row. Admittedly, the officials messed up badly against Miami or the Blue Devils would have been sitting at 7-1 going into the North Carolina instead of at 6-2. Their season kind of fell apart then before they closed out with 2 wins to finish with an 8-5 record.
It’s just not very Duke like to win 27 games in three seasons with only 11 losses.
Maybe recruits have noticed.
At least some of them did because the 2016 recruiting class is the best in the history of Duke football.
Head coach David Cutcliffe and his staff signed 7 4 star recruits which is almost unheard of. The class was only ranked 28th in the country, but it was higher ranked than traditional power Oregon and many other schools.
Their top 7 ranked recruits were Defensive End Chidi Okonya who is listed at 6-7, 210. Okonya is going to need some development time, but the Riverdale, Georgia product has the tools for greatness.
Safety Dylan Singleton is the younger brother of starting Defensive Back Deondre Singleton. He is one of the top rated Safeties in the country.
Robert Kraeling is a 6-7, 260 4 star Offensive Tackle from Bogart, Georgia. Other sites have him listed at 6-8, 275 and with 4.88 speed in the 40. I don’t know which is accurate, but he is an outstanding Tackle prospect and has the athletic ability to play End on Defense and get to the
Mark Birmingham is one of the best Tight End prospects in the country and the Blue Devils could use a Tight End pretty quickly.
An All State Running Back from Canton, Georgia also signed with Duke. He was the leading rusher in the Georgia 6A ranks. Brittain Brown is 6-1, 200 with sub 4.5 speed.
Scott Bracey is a bigger Wide Out from Richmond, Virginia. He played Quarterback in high school and put up huge numbers throwing and running the football, but he was recruited to be a Wide Receiver.
Then, there was 4 star Offensive Guard from Jacksonville, Florida Jaylen Miller. He is 6-3, 310 and a youngster with tremendous potential.
They also signed 14 3 star recruits to complete the class of 21 prospects. This kind of class has never happened before at Duke.
Some of these guys will make an immediate impact, while others will have to wait and work on a few things before they see the field.
But, one thing is for certain, ‘here come the Dukies’ and I am not talking basketball this time.