Saturday, August 3, 2013

Miami QB Nico Pierre commits to Duke

Even when Duke was in the midst of back-to-back 3-9 seasons, head coach David Cutcliffe had his reputation of developing successful NFL quarterbacks.

Now, with the Blue Devils reaching new levels of success, he is getting the recruits to match the pedigree.

Miami Coral Reef quarterback Nico Pierre, ranked a 4-star recruit by ESPN, chose Duke last week on an unofficial visit. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound dual-threat quarterback is arguably Duke’s top recruit of the Cutcliffe era (with Parade all-American and Elite 11 QB Sean Renfree as his main competition). Pierre’s other suitors included Nebraska, Wisconsin, Mississippi State and Wake Forest.

“When I went up there, I felt good,” Pierre said. “I felt like I was at home. The program just felt right, too.”

Pierre felt so strongly about his decision that he and his high school coach, Chevas Clements, scrapped their plan to visit Wake Forest and instead headed home to Miami.

Pierre, who has attended college camps around the country, decided to visit the Blue Devils first because they were on top of his list. The coaches kept in constant contact with him and made him feel like he was already part of the team, he said. And when he arrived on campus and confirmed his feelings about the school, he made his commitment.

“Over 95 percent of all black athletes graduate,” Clements said. “Things like that catch your eye.

“The school, Duke University, kind of speaks for itself,” Clements added. “But then with the coaching staff and their reputation of developing quarterbacks, that was a big thing. Because if he goes there and is able to play and develop under Coach Cutcliffe for four years, he’ll most likely have a opportunity to play on Sundays.”

Kurt Roper, Duke’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, has visited Pierre in Miami. But both Pierre and Clements cited associate head coach Scottie Montgomery, who rejoined the Blue Devils in February after three years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the recruiter that sealed the deal (South Florida is one of Montgomery’s main recruiting territories).

“Picking up some of these Miami and South Florida guys, Duke is on the rise,” Clements said. “This is where the speed is at, this is where all the major programs come to get talent. Duke had a presence this recruiting season because of Scottie Montgomery. He does a great job.”

Duke now must keep Pierre committed until he can sign a national letter of intent in February, a task far easier said than done in college football. But if Pierre is drawn to Cutcliffe’s quarterback legacy—both of his Duke starters, Thad Lewis and Sean Renfree, are in the NFL, as well as his most famous protégées, Peyton and Eli Manning—the Blue Devils could be hard to beat.

Pierre is the 12th commit in a class expected to only have around 15 players. Here is a rundown of the others, complete with highlight videos (stars are taken from rankings):

Tinashe Bere, LB, Cincinnati (Ohio) Sycamore

Zavier Carmichael, OLB, Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's Episcopal

Christian Harris, OT, Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill

Jonathan Lloyd, QB/ATH, Graham (N.C.) Southern Almanace

Trip McNeill, OT, Mocksville (N.C.) Davie County

Nico Pierre, QB, Miami Coral Reef

Alonzo Saxton, CB, Columbus (Ohio) Bishop Hartley

Kameron Schroeder, OT, Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks

**Zach Harmon, C, Toldeo (Ohio) Central Catholic

**Jake Sanders, OG, Carrollton (Ga.)

**Taariq Shabazz, DE, Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.)

**Chris Taylor, WR, Pompano Beach (Fla.) North Broward Prep

For all the latest Duke news, like Duke NOW on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

- Laura Keeley