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DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University head football coach David Cutcliffe and his staff announced on Wednesday that 27 student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to join the Blue Devil gridiron program.
The class includes one quarterback, 10 linemen and 16 backs. A total of nine states are represented in the group as Duke signed a class-high eight student-athletes from North Carolina, including a ninth — Bahamas native August Campbell — who attends Christ School in Asheville. The group includes five student-athletes from Florida and South Carolina and four from Georgia. States with one player each are California, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.
Back Desmond Scott, a SuperPrep All-America pick, and Hillside High School teammate Corey Gattis, a Shrine Bowl participant, are a pair of Durham natives joining the program. Scott rushed for 2,249 yards as a senior while Gattis was the Area Offensive Player of the Year pick from the Durham Herald-Sun after accounting for over 3,300 yards and 24 touchdowns. The tandem led the Hornets to a 12-2-1 record and an appearance in the state playoff semifinals.
Other North Carolina natives include linemen Joey Finison (Greensboro), Justin Foxx (Charlotte) and Perry Simmons (Raleigh) along with backs Ross Cockrell (Waxhaw), Zach Greene (Raleigh) and Kevin Rojas (Raleigh). Finison helped Ragsdale High School to a 13-1 ledger in 2008 while Foxx posted 85 tackles and 17 sacks for Victory Christian as a senior. Simmons was an all-state pick at Sanderson High School and played in the 72nd annual Shrine Bowl.
Cockrell guided Latin High School to 24 wins over his final two seasons while Greene helped Leesville Road to 35 victories over his three campaigns. Rojas was a two-time all-conference pick at Wakefield High School and Campbell amassed 237 tackles with seven interceptions in his three seasons at Christ School.
Backs Austin Gamble, Tyree Glover and Conner Vernon and linemen Ryan Hall and Dave Harding enjoyed success in the prep ranks in the state of Florida. Glover recorded a school single-season record 154 tackles in his final campaign while Gamble is listed as the 35th-best inside linebacker in the country by ESPN.com. An all-state wide receiver, Vernon led the Miami area in receiving yards after a 60-reception, 1,163-yard senior campaign. Hall is charted as the 37th-best tight end in the nation by Rivals.com while Harding, the 33rd-top offensive guard in the country according to Rivals.com, played in the Under Armour All-American Game last month.
Two sets of prep teammates highlight the five members of the class from South Carolina. Linemen John Coleman and Sydney Sarmiento hail from West Florence High School and both played in the state’s annual North-South All-Star Game. Backs Walt Canty and Taylor Sowell, who helped Dorman to a 13-1 ledger in 2008, join the class as does back Lex Butler, an Anderson, S.C., native and the younger brother of current Blue Devil cornerback Lee Butler.
Georgia is represented by linemen John Drew, Jack Farrell and Brandon Putnam along with back Kyle Griswould. Drew is listed as the 20th-best defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com while Farrell had 37 receptions for 582 yards over his final two seasons. Putnam posted 54 tackles as Sandy Creek High School went 11-1 in 2008 and Griswould rushed for over 3,500 in his career at Shaw High School. All four Peach State signees were named to the Georgia 150 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Back Garrett Patterson signed with the Blue Devils out of Monacan (Va.) High School after posting 81 tackles to earn all-state honors as a senior. Sean Schroeder, a left-handed quarterback from Dana Hills (Calif.) High School, completed 175-of-267 passes for 2,826 yards with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions as a senior.
New Jersey native Tyree Watkins is listed as the 64th-best wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com and was an All-Northeast Region selection by SuperPrep in 2008. Fellow back Anthony Young-Wiseman earned all-state honors in Maryland following his senior season at Walt Whitman High School.
Greene, Hall, Rojas and Sarmiento all enrolled at Duke last month.