"I got good news recently about Duke," said Marquel Gathers. "I've been told that they're thinking about offering me. I went to their Junior Day, and I've been to a couple of their games with (current Blue Devil) Josh Snead - back when he was in high school. We used to be teammates before he graduated and I transferred (to West Johnston).
"They have a good atmosphere at Duke and it's down to earth. I like Coach (David) Cutcliffe most of all. He's been involved with the best programs in the country: Ole Miss and Tennessee, for instance. He's coached one of the two best quarterbacks ever in Peyton Manning. Also, Coach (Ron) Middleton has been checking on me and I like that."
Over the past two years, Gathers - who is also hearing from East Carolina and a host of other schools - has totaled approximately 270 tackles from his inside linebacker position. The short, stocky LB features a style of play that's reminiscent of former NFL great Sam Mills.
"I'm an excellent reader on the field," said Gathers, who consistently runs in the 4.6 to 4.7 range. I want to get my speed down to 4.5. I do a good job of coming off blocks and making the tackle."
Scout's Take: When you watch film of Gathers, it's easy to see that he loves the game. He's a thick, bowling ball-type ILB who thrives on contact. Gathers, despite his compact build, is surprisingly quick. He explodes into the gap and delivers a wallop to RBs.
His biggest challenges on the next level will be escaping the blocks of large offensive linemen and pass coverage. Although Gathers is quick, he'll need to continue to improve his dexterity and change of direction skills so he can turn and run with backs and receivers on pass plays. He does show good lateral ability when chasing down backs on sweeps. Gathers is a sure tackler who rarely allows anyone to escape his grasp.
He has an explosive first step when blitzing - and he blitzes often. Gathers plays with fire and emotion and is a leader on the field.