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Cutcliffe’s Next Pupil

By Matt Osborne
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Despite serious interest from programs across the country, the opportunity to play for David Cutcliffe proved to be too much to pass up for 2014 quarterback prospect Nico Pierre.

“I never see myself falling down or quitting no matter how much time is left on the clock. Always play till the final whistle, make sure you do whatever you could do in your power to give your team an opportunity to win."
~Duke quarterback commit Nico Pierre

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe has long been known as one of the premier quarterback gurus in the country.

Prior to taking the head coaching gig in Durham, Cutcliffe had already been responsible for producing elite quarterbacks such as Peyton and Eli Manning, Tee Martin and Heath Shuler in stops at Tennessee and Ole Miss.

What has perhaps come as a surprise, however, is that Cutcliffe’s track record of producing quality signal callers has continued well into his Duke tenure. His first starting quarterback in Durham, Thaddeus Lewis, has spent the last four seasons in the NFL after going undrafted; even starting a handful of games along the way. Sean Renfree, who followed Lewis under center, was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft, becoming the first Duke played to be drafted in a decade.


The Blue Devils’ most recent starting quarterback, Anthony Boone, may not have the NFL potential of his predecessors, but he was able to guide the team to an ACC Coastal Division title this past season.

As Cutcliffe and his staff continue to aggressively hit the recruiting trail, they do so in hopes that they will be able to continue the tradition of excellent play under center.

One of the players they are hoping can continue that tradition is 2014 verball commit Nico Pierre.

Coming out of Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami, Florida, Pierre received over 20 offers from college programs early on in the recruiting process.

And despite interest from schools such as Clemson, Louisville, Nebraska and Wisconsin, the opportunity to play for a proven quarterback guru ultimately proved to be too much to pass up.

“That had a pretty good effect on everything,” Pierre said of Cutcliffe’s reputation on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. “Seeing who I’m going to be working with on a day to day basis and getting me to where I want to be, making me the best player that I can be was huge. So that had a major effect on my decision of being a Duke Blue Devil quarterback.”

Pierre was obviously aware of the poor history on the gridiron which Duke possessed prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival, but he did not let that deter him from becoming interested in the program.

His interest was eventually rewarded when the Blue Devils came from off the radar to compete against Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.

The Blue Devils’ success in 2013 has only increased Pierre’s enthusiasm about beginning his career at Duke.

“It was very exciting for me; not only for me, but other recruits who were also looking in to coming to Duke, because now they see the culture of Duke football has changed, and now they’re on the uprise of becoming a winning program year after year,” Pierre commented. “It’s very great because as you go into a program like this all the guys are going to be up tempo, ready to go, wanting to achieve what they haven’t yet before because they have been doubted all the other years before because of lack of success.”

Though Pierre will have to compete with a contingency of other quarterbacks for playing time upon his arrival in Durham, he is hoping that his strongest attribute on the playing field will help him find his way into the rotation under center.

“Me as a player, I’m a great competitor,” remarked Pierre. “I never see myself falling down or quitting no matter how much time is left on the clock. Always play till the final whistle, make sure you do whatever you could do in your power to give your team an opportunity to win. That’s why I see myself as a great player from that standpoint. For my areas for improvement, I have to improve on my footwork and reading more defense, seeing coverages pre-snap, getting the ball out on time. Besides those little key improvements, everything else I think I’m fine at.”

Duke’s success in 2013 certainly came as a surprise to most college football fans, but with talented players such as Pierre entering the mix, this past season could prove to be more than just a flash in the pan.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at