David Cutcliffe has won a division title, a bowl game and posted Duke football’s first double-digit win season. He might be able to add signing day bragging rights to his growing list of accomplishments.
Duke, according to the composite recruiting rankings by 247 Sports, has the best class in the Triangle and fourth-best in the ACC.
The Blue Devils, who won their first bowl game since 1961 this past season, have compiled a class headed into signing day Wednesday that ranks No. 31 in the country.
That’s slightly ahead of Coastal Division champion North Carolina (No. 35) and trailing only Florida State (three), Clemson (ninth) and Miami (17) in the ACC. N.C. State’s class ranks ninth of 14 ACC teams and No. 46 in the country.
The numbers could change Wednesday morning if the dusted-off fax machines spit out some late change-of-hearts when recruits are officially allowed to sign and send in their paperwork, but the Blue Devils have upped their recruiting ranking significantly this year.
Statistics show that the teams consistently ranked among the top 25 in the recruiting rankings are the same ones that end up ranked in the final Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Of the first eight classes Cutcliffe signed, none ranked among the top 50 of 247’s composite rankings (which compiles the ratings of other major media recruiting services into one comprehensive number). Only once before, in 2011, did Duke not finish last among the three Triangle schools.
Cutcliffe has built Duke into a winner without the benefit of highly rated recruits. Duke has gone 33-20 the past four seasons with four straight bowl trips, a Coastal Division title and school-record 10 wins in 2013.
But the statistics show the teams consistently ranked among the top 25 in the recruiting rankings are the same ones that end up ranked in the final Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Duke heads into signing day with the only commitment from a national top 200 recruit. Receiver Scott Bracey (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) from Richmond, Va., is rated as the No. 138 player in the country, according to the 247 rankings.
Though all three Triangle coaches will be happy Wednesday and extoll their additions, there’s still work to be done on building the mythical “fence around the state.”
Half of the top-10 players in the state are staying in the ACC, but three are going to ACC champion Clemson, including Wake Forest High defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence – the only five-star player in the state – and two are headed to Florida State.
UNC, whose class is rated as high as No. 18 in the country by Rivals, does have the most recruits among the top 25-ranked players in the state but only one among the top 15.
The Tar Heels, coming off an 11-3 season, also have the potential to jump up in the rankings Wednesday if they land Nate Craig-Myers. Craig-Myers, a 6-2, 205-pound receiver from Tampa, Fla., is the No. 43 overall player in the country and No. 6 receiver.
What to look forward to for Duke, UNC and N.C. State on signing day:
247 Sports composite rankings: national 31, ACC 4
Highlights: Scott Bracey, who played quarterback the past two seasons for his high school, has a chance to help right away. He has the size to replace Max McCaffrey, the team’s top receiver and main downfield target.
Bracey and safety Dylan Singleton (5-11, 180 pounds, Lawrenceville, Ga.) are consensus four-star prospects.
Mark Birmingham, a tight end from Ashburn, Va., who ranks No. 14 at this position in the country, also could boost the passing game.
Cornerback Mark Gilbert (6-1, 170 pounds, Fayetteville Terry Sanford) is Duke’s top-rated in-state commitment at No. 29. He already has enrolled.
247 Sports composite rankings: national 35, ACC 6
Highlights: With Marquise Williams’ career over and Mitch Trubisky entering his junior season, the Tar Heels need to reload at the quarterback position, and coach Larry Fedora did. Chazz Surratt (6-3, 210 pounds), from Denver, N.C., is a four-star prospect and the highest-rated in-state player (No. 14) who is committed to stay home.
Logan Byrd (6-3, 236 pounds, Kathleen, Ga.) is one of the top 20-rated pro-style quarterbacks in the class and already has enrolled.
Another early enrollee is receiver Myles Dorn from Charlotte Vance. Dorn (6-2, 195) is ranked No. 21 in the state and is the son of former UNC running back Torin Dorn. His brother, Torin Jr., is on N.C. State’s basketball team.
247 Sports composite rankings: national 46, ACC 9
Highlights: The Wolfpack might be short on star ratings but are deep on need. After a 7-6 season, the Wolfpack wants to upgrade its talent in the passing game and in the secondary.
Tight end Thad Moss, from Charlotte’s Mallard Creek (6-3, 240 pounds) gives new offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz some size, as does receiver Kelvin Harmon (6-3, 190, Palmyra, N.J.).
Safety Isaiah Stallings might be the most intriguing prospect in the bunch. A teammate of Gilbert’s at Terry Sanford, Stallings has incredible size (6-4, 200 pounds) for a safety.
Stallings (No. 16) and Moss (No. 17), the son of NFL legend Randy Moss, are both ranked among the top 20 in the state.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
How ACC teams rank
Rankings according to the composite ratings by 247 Sports, heading into signing day. National rank in parentheses:
1. Florida State (3)
2. Clemson (9)
3. Miami (17)
4. Duke (31)
5. Pitt (34)
6. UNC (35)
7. Louisville (36)
8. Virginia Tech (39)
9. N.C. State (46)
10. Georgia Tech (51)
11. Wake Forest (54)
12. Virginia (57)
13. Syracuse (60)
14. Boston College (74)