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DUKE NOTEBOOK

Blue Devils don’t worry about the rating game

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DURHAM — Luca Diamont verbally committed to Duke 10 months ago while ranked a 4-star prospect. Then, between February and signing his National Letter of Intent Wednesday, he dropped to a 3-star.

What happened?

It certainly wasn’t a disappointing senior year. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound dual-threat quarterback from Venice (California) High, a beach city in Los Angeles, threw for 2,161 yards and ran for 1,520 in an 8-5 season.

Well, what likely happened was he didn’t sign with Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State or another school among the handful that annually finishes with a class ranked in the top 10. Fans of teams following recruiting websites have long contended that 4-stars were dropped to 3-stars when they don’t sign with one of the brand name schools.

But Duke coach David Cutcliffe won’t call them conspiracy nuts.

“I’ll tell you, honestly, that I know what happens,” Cutcliffe said. “I’ve seen they will 4-star a guy when (schools with) the majority their subscribers are involved. If they’re not involved, they’ll drop him. We’ve signed players that have gone from a 4-star to 3-star and a 3-star to a 2-star. Quite frankly I don’t care. I have my own rating system and it doesn’t have stars associated with it.”

On signing day, Diamont was still ranked a 4-star by ESPN, but he is a 3-star by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com.

“He’s versatile and aggressive — that’s what I love about him,” Cutcliffe said. “People wouldn’t think it in this day and time, but he’s a heck of a safety. His last high school game he had two pick-sixes in a game. He has great speed, a great arm and is dedicated to the game. He’s a football junkie. He’s worked all his life to get to what he is today, and that’s a quarterback.”

OPEN QB COMPETITION

Diamont is one of five recruits scheduled to enroll in January to be on campus for spring football. With fifth-year senior Quentin Harris gone, he joins a competition up for grabs.

Chris Katrenick (6-3, 215) emerged as Harris’ backup last year when Gunnar Holmberg (6-3, 190) underwent knee surgery for a nonligament injury after the first preseason scrimmage. Katrenick is a redshirt junior in the fall and Holmberg a redshirt sophomore.

Interestingly, Holmberg of Heritage High in Wake Forest also had been ranked a 4-star early in the evaluation process before he committed to Duke and was later reduced to a 3-star.

The Blue Devils didn’t have a quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, but they have three walk-ons, including redshirt freshman Gavin Spurrier (6-4, 205), the son of Steve Spurrier, the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Fame coach. Spurrier was the Blue Devils head coach from 1987 to 1989.

Spring football opens for a week in March before an academic break. The Blue Devils then return to campus and finish spring drills with the Spring Showcase on April 4 at Wallace Wade Stadium.

HOOPS AIMING FOR NO. 1 AGAIN

Newly minted top-ranked Kansas is the fifth No.1 team this season, the most prior to New Year’s Day in the history of poll voting.

Fourth-ranked Duke can already again set its sights on No. 1 after its loss to Stephen F. Austin three weeks ago had dropped it to No. 10. Since then Duke has demonstrated versatility with back-to-back wins beating Michigan State at its physical style play and matching Virginia Tech with a four-guard lineup.

Following Thursday’s game against Wofford, the Blue Devils host Brown on Dec. 28 and then resume ACC play on Dec. 31 against Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Tom Shanahan is a freelance writer based in Cary and author of “Raye of Light,” a book featuring Fayetteville’s Jimmy Raye as a pioneering black quarterback for College Football Hall of Fame coach Duffy Daugherty on Michigan State’s “Underground Railroad” football teams of the 1960s.

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