|DURHAM, N.C. - Duke University head football coach David Cutcliffe and his staff announced on Wednesday that 20 student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to join the Blue Devil gridiron program.
The class includes one quarterback, one kicker, eight linemen and 10 backs. A total of 11 states are represented in the group as Duke signed a class-high five student-athletes from North Carolina. The group includes three student-athletes from Florida, two each from California, Colorado and Maryland and one apiece from Connecticut, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The five in-state prospects include lineman Dan Beilinson (Cary), lineman Casey Blaser (Charlotte), back Jela Duncan (Charlotte), back Keilin Rayner (Leland) and lineman Carlos Wray (Shelby).
Beilinson, a consensus national top-40 tight end prospect, caught 67 passes for 965 yards over his final two seasons at Panther Creek High School while Blaser was a first team all-state pick by the Associated Press in 2011 after helping South Mecklenburg to its second straight playoff appearance.
Duncan rushed for 2,307 yards and 30 touchdowns during his senior campaign at Mallard Creek High School and displayed his abilities in the 75th annual Shrine Bowl, where he gained 112 yards on the ground including a 76-yard touchdown as North Carolina defeated South Carolina, 26-19. Rayner earned first team all-state honors from multiple outlets after carding 164 tackles as a senior at North Brunswick High School while Wray, who secured 91 tackles including 16 for loss in 2011, helped Shelby High School to 38 victories over four seasons.
Back Shaquille Powell, a product of Las Vegas, Nev., inked with the Blue Devils after helping Bishop Gorman High School to 42 wins and three straight state titles from 2009-11. As a senior, Powell rushed for 2,458 yards with 44 total touchdowns en route to earning PARADE All-American honors as well as Nevada's Gatorade Player of the Year citation.
Florida is represented with back Dwayne Norman (Jacksonville), lineman Erich Schneider (Jacksonville Beach) and quarterback Thomas Sirk (Glen St. Mary). Norman is charted as the No. 50 safety in the nation by ESPN.com while Schneider caught 43 passes for 576 yards and three touchdowns as a senior. Sirk, who enrolled at Duke last month, topped the 2,000-yard barrier through the air and the 1,000-yard plateau on the ground in 2011 and earned MVP honors at the 57th annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic after throwing a pair of touchdown passes.
A pair of prep teammates - lineman Michael Mann (Castle Rock) and back Max McCaffrey (Castle Rock) - from Valor Christian High School in Colorado will head east to the Durham campus. The duo helped Valor Christian to three consecutive state championships including undefeated seasons in both 2009 and 2011.
Back prospects Corbin McCarthy (Norco) and Deion Williams (Long Beach) join the Duke program from California. McCarthy logged 72 tackles and 23 pass breakups during his senior season while Williams is listed as the No. 27 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com.
Joining Duke's skilled position units are DeVon Edwards (Covington, Ga.), Anthony Nash (West Chester, Pa.) and Michael Westray (Waldorf, Md.). Edwards received region player of the year honors in 2011 after setting Alcovy High School single-season records for all-purpose yardage and total touchdowns while Nash caught 83 passes for 1,705 yards and 23 touchdowns over the last two seasons while helping Bayard Rustin High School back-to-back league crowns. Westray logged 67 tackles and one interception as a senior at Westlake High School and played in the annual Maryland Crab Bowl all-star game.
Three additional linemen in the class include Allen Jackson (Ellicott City, Md.), Tanner Stone (Dallas, Texas) and A.J. Wolf (Greenwich, Conn.). Jackson was an all-state pick in Maryland after posting 80 tackles as a senior while Stone, who helped Highland Park High School to three straight district championships, garnered all-state accolades in Texas. Wolf, who had 98 tackles in 2011, twice received all-state recognition from the New York State Sportswriters Association.
On the special teams front, kicker Ross Martin (Solon, Ohio) joins the program after earning first team All-America honors from USA Today. Martin is rated as the No. 1 kicker in the nation by Rivals.com and twice earned first team all-state honors as a prep.
2012 Duke Football Signing Class