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After winning 10 games in 2013, Duke football was largely irrelevant over the course of the last decade— until 2022. In the first year after David Cutcliffe parted ways with his program of more than a decade, Mike Elko rattled off eight regular season wins and a Military Bowl victory over UCF.
To say that Duke is “back” would be a stretch. It was one year with a solid record and taking it to that extreme would be an overreaction, especially considering the Blue Devils’ difficult ACC schedule.
- at UConn
- Notre Dame
- N.C. State
- Florida State
- at Louisville
- Wake Forest
- at North Carolina
- at Virginia
However, a program that was largely irrelevant outside of a few years in the early 2010s won nine games in a single season for just the third time in program history last season and it has star quarterback Riley Leonard back for his junior year. That’s a great sign for what is to come under Elko, who was hired by Duke in 2022 after 13 years as the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
There is a lot of hype around what is being built in Durham, both literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, the Blue Devils just finished significant renovations to its football facility that put the program on-par with the rest of its conference.
Meanwhile, in a figurative sense, Duke is quietly putting together what could finish as its best recruiting class in program history. Elko and his staff have been on a serious run over the last 48/72 hours.
Duke currently has the No. 22-ranked class in the country.
The Blue Devils have landed eight recruits in the past two days alone:
- OT Mason Wade, three-star
- OT Robert Bourdon, three-star
- DB Kyren Condoll, three-star
- LB Montreze Smith, three-star
- EDGE Tyshon Reed Jr., three-star
- ATH Da’Vontae Floyd, three-star
- DB Zach Jackson, three-star
- S Paul Mencke Jr., four-star
Mencke is the best commit of the flurry, as a top-40 player at his position. The Texas-native chose Duke over Colorado, Arizona State, Houston, Iowa State, SMU and Vanderbilt, among others.
Although Mencke had more than 20 offers, even just 12 hours before his decision to play for Elko, Mencke was believed to be headed to Notre Dame. He was a heavy lean toward the Fighting Irish, and then — boom. Duke got him in the boat.
Elko is not even 18 months into his time with the Blue Devils and he has the program on the come-up. It is fair to ask the question of whether this rise is sustainable, but for right now, they are ROLLING!