Duke head coach David Cutcliffe had 15 future Blue Devils send in their National Letters of Intent to play football for Duke next season as early signing period kicked off for the class of 2018.
The class includes three wide receivers, three offensive linemen, two defensive backs, two defensive linemen, two linebackers, one running back, one tight end and one quarterback. Six of the signees are from North Carolina. Four of the players will enroll in January, including Heritage High School quarterback Gunnar Holmberg and Southern Vance tight end Zamari Ellis.
The prize of the class is defensive tackle Tahj Rice (6-2, 320), a four-star recruit from Louisville, Ky.
“Most of these young men have been committed for quite some time,” Cutcliffe said. “There’s a lot of excitement.”
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Duke’s early signing class
Peace Addo, offensive line, Silver Spring, Md.
Addo (6-6, 295) helped lead St. Frances Academy to a 12-0 record this year, and the team will face Bingham (Utah) in the GEICO State Championship Series in Phoenix on Dec. 23. Played one season at St. Frances after transferring from Springbrook High School, where he also played basketball.
Jake Bobo, wide receiver, Belmont, Mass.
Bobo (6-4, 185) is a four-star prospect according to 247Sports, ESPN.com and Rivals.com. He was a three-time first team All-Independent School League selection who caught 34 passes for 514 yards and five scores his senior season. As a junior he caught 31 passes for 632 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading Belmont to a 7-2 record to capture the New England Prep School championship. Also lettered in basketball and track and field.
Elijah Brown, defensive tackle, Charlotte
Brown (6-4, 295) played four years at Providence Day and is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports and the No. 71 defensive tackle in the country. Collected 60 tackles and 6.5 sacks his senior season, leading the team to a 9-3 record and an appearance in the NCISAA title game. A two-time North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association all-state pick, earning the honor following his junior and senior seasons.
Mataeo Durant, running back, McCormick, S.C.
Durant (6-1, 190) played four seasons at McCormick and was rated as the No. 49 running back in the country by Rivals.com and a four-star prospect by 247Sports. Selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. In 2017 Durant was named the South Carolina Football Coaches Association Upper State Running Back of the Year. Rushed for 1,551 yards and 19 scores as a senior. Led his team to consecutive Region 1A titles in 2016 and 2017. As a member of the track and field program, he earned regional titles in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100 relay.
Zamari Ellis, tight end, Henderson
Ellis (6-4, 240) is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports. Named to the Northern Carolina 2A all-conference team as a sophomore and junior. Missed entire senior season due to an injury. As a junior, Ellis caught 35 passes for 613 yards and nine touchdowns. As a sophomore, he caught 31 passes for 536 yards and seven scores. Also played basketball at Southern Vance.
Jarett Garner, wide receiver, Harrisburg
Garner (6-3, 190) played two seasons at Hickory Ridge, finishing his senior season with 43 catches for 846 yards and 10 scores. A three-star prospect, Garner was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. He helped lead the Ragin’ Bulls to an 11-3 record in 2017. As a junior, Garner caught 60 passes for 1,292 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Shaka Heyward, linebacker, Hoschton, Ga.
Heyward (6-4, 215) is a consensus top-60 outside linebacker according to 247Sports (No. 57). As a senior, Heyward racked up 90 tackles and five sacks to go along with one interception, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Is the nephew of the late Craig Heyward, who played 11 seasons in the NFL. His cousin, Cameron Heyward, is in his seventh season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Casey Holman, offensive line, Snellville, Ga.
Holman (6-4, 285) is also expected to enroll early. Served as the team captain at Brookwood High as a senior. Holman is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports, the No. 29 offensive guard in the country according to Rivals.com and the No. 36 offensive tackle according to 247Sports. Was named the 2017 Touchdown Club of Gwinnett Co-Offensive lineman of the Year. Also played basketball.
Gunnar Holmberg, quarterback, Wake Forest
Holmberg (6-3, 180) is a four-star prospect according to ESPN.com and a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.com. Listed as the No. 15 pro-style quarterback nationally by 247Sports.com. Finished his career with 6,987 passing yards and 65 touchdowns. Passing yardage and touchdown totals are both Heritage single-season records. Named Cap 8 co-offensive player of the year as a junior and senior.
Jeremiah Lewis, cornerback, Plano, Texas
Lewis (6-0, 180) is expected to enroll in January. Played four seasons at Prestonwood Christian, serving as team captain as a junior and senior. Listed as the No. 57 corner in the nation by Rivals.com. Collected 65 tackles and four interceptions as a senior, while adding 40 pass receptions for 919 yards as a receiver. Tallied 66 tackles as a junior with one interception.
Maurice McIntyre, offensive line, Jacksonville
McIntyre (6-2, 320) lettered three seasons at Northside and is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports and the No. 61 offensive guard in the country. Missed entire junior season with an injury. Named All-East Central 2A all-conference as a sophomore. Also participated in track and field.
Tahj Rice, defensive tackle, Louisville, Ky.
Rice (6-2, 320) is a consensus four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 10 strong side defensive end according to 247Sports. Selected to play for the American team in the 2017 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. After senior season was named a Greater Louisville Football Coaches Association Class 3A first team All-District 3 selection as both an offensive tackle and defensive tackle/end. As a junior, he tied for the team leader in tackles with 85.
Rocky Shelton, linebacker, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Shelton (6-0, 205) is a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com and a three-star according to 247Sports. Led St. Thomas Aquinas to the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 7A title in 2014, 2015 and 2016. As a senior, he racked up 99 tackles, three tackles for loss and two blocked punts. Posted 86 tackles as a junior.
Dennis Smith, wide receiver, Gaffney, S.C.
Smith (6-2, 185) played at Gaffney High, where he was a three-star prospect. Selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. As a senior, he helped lead the Indians to a 9-5 record. Caught 55 passes for 733 yards and five scores his senior year. Caught 72 passes for 1,180 yards and 11 scores as a junior.
Nate Thompson, safety, Sanford
Thompson (6-3, 185) lettered four years at Southern Lee and is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports. A consensus top-60 safety who collected 58 tackles and four interceptions his senior season. Picked off three passes in one game versus Triton on Oct. 20, returning one 65 yards for a score. As a junior Thompson had 84 tackles and four picks.