Duke football signs 21 for 2016

Chris Baird, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke Blue Devils head football coach David Cutcliffe and his staff announced on Wednesday that 21 student-athletes signed National Letters of Intent (NLI’s) to join the Blue Devils program.

The class includes six defensive backs, four offensive linemen, three linebackers, three defensive linemen, two running backs, one wide receiver, one tight end and one kicker.

A total of nine states are represented in the group with six signees from Georgia, followed by three from Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, two from Connecticut and one each from Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey and South Carolina.

North Carolina

The three North Carolina natives are running back Elijah Deveaux (Waxhaw), linebacker Xander Gagnon (Charlotte) and defensive back Mark Gilbert (Fayetteville).

Deveaux helped Charlotte Christian to three straight North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) 3A state championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and earned NCISAA All-State First Team accolades as a senior.

Gagnon was selected as the 2015 Greater Charlotte Football Awards’ Linebacker of the Year and South Meck 8 Defensive Player of the Year while guiding Charlotte Catholic High School to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A state title.

Gilbert, who enrolled at Duke in January, led Terry Sanford High School to a pair of Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference championships.

Georgia

The six products from Georgia include running back Brittain Brown (Canton), defensive back Javon Jackson (Tyrone), offensive lineman Robert Kraeling (Bishop), defensive lineman Chidi Okonya (Riverdale), defensive back Dylan Singleton (Lawrenceville) and defensive back Antone Williams (Atlanta).

Brown is ranked as the No. 18 running back in the country by ESPN.com and earned a place on the Georgia Sports Writers Association (GSWA) Class AAAAAA All-State First Team following his season year at Cherokee High School.

Jackson was a 2015 Atlanta Journal Constitution First Team All-State selection as a defensive back as well as a First Team All-State GSWA Class AAAA All-State honoree for Sandy Creek High School.

Kraeling was selected to participate in the Semper Fidelis All-American Game after receiving Atlanta Journal Constitution All-State First Team accolades following his senior campaign at Prince Avenue Christian.

Okonya, from Riverdale High School, joined Kraeling at the Semper Fidelis All-American Game and is a four-star prospect as rated by ESPN.com.

Singleton, who is ranked as the No. 10 safety in the country by both 247Sports.com and Scout.com and posted 101 tackles as a senior at Archer High School, is set to join his brother, Deondre Singleton, as a member of the Duke secondary.

Williams helped Woodward Academy to a 13-1 ledger as a senior and is rated as the No. 48 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com.

Virginia

Joining Duke from Virginia are tight end Mark Birmingham (Ashburn), wide receiver Scott Bracey (Richmond) and defensive back Myles Hudzick (Reston).

Birmingham, out of Briar Woods High School, is a member of both the Scout300 (No. 214) and ESPN300 (No. 295).

Bracey, who helped Benedictine High School to consecutive Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state titles, is a consensus four-star recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and Scout.com as well as a member of the Rivals.com 100 (No. 67) and Scout.com 300 (No. 116).

Hudzick earned All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference honors as a senior wide receiver at Bishop O’Connell High School.

Florida

A pair of linemen in Terrell Lucas (Hollywood) and Jaylen Miller (Jacksonville) will come to Durham from Florida.

Lucas earned Associated Press Florida All-State Class 8A Second Team honors following his senior season at Miramar High School.

Miller, ranked as the No. 25 offensive guard in the country by ESPN.com, helped Providence High School to a fourth straight Florida High School Athletic Association playoff berth as a senior, when he received Associated Press Florida All-State Class 3A First Team honors.

Connecticut

From Connecticut, the Blue Devils welcome defensive back Jacob Morgenstern (New Canaan) and linebacker Koby Quansah (Manchester) to the program.

Morgenstern enrolled at Duke in January after finishing his St. Luke’s School career by carding 81 tackles and two interceptions as a senior.

Quansah was a 2016 Semper Fidelis All-American Game participant and earned All-New England, All-Fairchester Athletic Association accolades following his final season at Kingswood Oxford School.

South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey

Linebacker Brandon Hill, a native of Orangeburg, S.C., is a Scout.com four-star prospect listed at No. 258 on the Scout300 chart.

He guided Heathwood Hall Episcopal to four consecutive South Carolina Independent School Association Class (SCISA) AAA playoff berths and twice received SCISA First Team All-State honors.

Defensive lineman James Hornbuckle-Smith, from Murray, Ky., helped Murray High School to 7-5 record in 2015 while booking 112 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.

Kicker AJ Reed, a Prattville, Ala., product, is the No. 11 kicker in the country by Scout.com and kicked a 32-yard game-winning field goal as time expired in the 10th annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl after wrapping up his Prattville High School career.

Offensive lineman Liam Smith, a native of Little Silver, N.J., is ranked as the No. 28 offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com and earned first team All-Shore Conference honors as a senior, a year after helping Red Bank Catholic to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public Group III championship for the school’s first NJSIAA football title since 1976.

Duke Football 2016 signees

Name/Pos./Ht./Wt./Hometown/High School

Mark Birmingham/TE/6-4/235/Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods

Scott Bracey/WR/6-2/200/Richmond, Va./Benedictine

Brittain Brown/RB/6-1/195/Canton, Ga./Cherokee

Elijah Deveaux /RB/6-0/225 /Waxhaw, N.C. /Charlotte Christian

Xander Gagnon/LB/6-3/225/Charlotte, N.C. /Charlotte Catholic

Mark Gilbert /DB/6-1/175/Fayetteville, N.C./Terry Sanford

Brandon Hill/LB/6-3/220/Orangeburg, S.C./Heathwood Hall Episcopal

James Hornbuckle-Smith/DL/6-4/235/Murray, Ky./Murray

Myles Hudzick/DB/5-10/165/Reston, Va. /Bishop O’Connell

Javon Jackson/DB/5-11/180/Tyrone, Ga. /Sandy Creek

Robert Kraeling/OL /6-7/270/Bishop, Ga./Prince Avenue Christian

Terrell Lucas/DL /6-3/230/Hollywood, Fla./Miramar

Jaylen Miller/OL/6-3/315/Jacksonville, Fla./Providence

Jacob Morgenstern/DB/6-3 /215/New Canaan, Conn./St. Luke’s School

Chidi Okonya/DL /6-6/220/Riverdale, Ga./Riverdale

Koby Quansah/LB/6-1/220/Manchester, Conn./Kingswood Oxford

AJ Reed/K/5-11/175/Prattville, Ala./Prattville

Julian Santos/OL /6-3/315/East Lake, Fla./East Lake

Dylan Singleton/DB/5-11/190/Lawrenceville, Ga./Archer

Liam Smith /OL/6-4/270/Little Silver, N.J./Red Bank Catholic

Antone Williams/DB/5-11/175/Atlanta, Ga./Woodward Academy

About Peter Koutroumpis 1598 Articles
Peter Koutroumpis is an alumnus of the University of Toronto and Bowling Green State University. Living in the Raleigh area, he has been involved and employed in organized sport and competition as a player, official, teacher, coach, administrator, and volunteer. With more than 20 years of experience in sport event management and programming, as Owner and Managing Editor of the Triangle Sports Network, a set of online sports news sites, he provides a variety of perspectives on the amateur and professional sports landscape including the NCAA, NHL, NBA, PGA, and LPGA, and more.