App State’s offseason seems to be a continuation of their stellar regular season. After a banner year that included 11 wins in 13 games and a Camellia Bowl victory, the Mountaineers turned around and had an outstanding recruiting season as well, signing 23 new recruits for the upcoming season. Several of these are rated as three-star recruits by various scouting websites and two have decided to forego their final semester of high school and enroll early to get ready for the season in the fall.
Clifton Duck, rated a two-star prospect by Scout.com and 247Sports, was a four-year starter at powerhouse Butler High School in Charlotte. He was a member of the Butler 2012 4-AA NCHSAA State Championship team and intercepted a pass in the title game that season. Playing on both sides of the ball as a defensive back, wide receiver, running back and punt returner, he was a three-time all conference honoree and voted best Butler defensive back for three straight seasons.
“I enrolled early because I came out of a couple of spring practices and saw the size on some of these guys,” Duck said. “I felt like that would put me ahead a little bit. App State had a big family environment and that was what I really looking for in my recruiting.”
Aris Duffey, rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports and a two-star by Rivals.com and Scout.com, is a defensive back out of Nease High School in St. Augustine, Florida. As a senior he was named the St. Johns County Defensive Player of the Year by the St. Augustine Record after putting out 58 tackles [three for a loss], forcing one fumble and blocking a punt. He also lettered in track and field as well as lacrosse for Nease.
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“It was very comfortable up here,” Duffey said. “I like the atmosphere, I like the mountains, it’s very different from where I’m from.”
Duffey also said that skills he learned in his other sports will help him now. “[Track helped] working on my speed and getting faster, [lacrosse] also helped me get faster and maintain a good condition,” Duffey said.
A concern with some early enrollees is how they will transition from high school to the college classroom while also focusing on football. Head coach Scott Satterfield said he understands the difficulty of their transition.
“They’re really supposed to be in high school right now and getting ready for the prom and now they’re up here on a college campus,” Satterfield said. “They seem to be doing well in school, we’re getting good reports from their teachers. It’s a very tough transition for a high school player to come in, especially mid-term [because] you don’t get the lead-in from the summer.”
While Duck has his eyes set on the business field and currently plans to major in management, Duffey has chosen a different path and already has a head start.
“I actually did dual-enrollment in high school so that kind of helped with my classes here,” Duffey said. “I’m going to major in biology.”
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Satterfield feels both players will be great additions to the team in the future.
“With Clifton Duck, he really stood out to us in camp. Down in Charlotte we did a camp and he stood out to us, he competed, he wanted to get alot of reps. He had good explosion and good ball skills,” Satterfield said. “With Duffey, he comes from a good program. He made some good plays, he’s not scared to hit and in our secondary we needed to find some good players back there. They’ve really adjusted well, we’re happy they’re here. I think they’ll be key contributors to our team. It could be this year, could be in a year or two but I think both of them are going to be fine players for us.”
The Mountaineers continue to prepare for the upcoming season, and with the loss of a key secondary player from 2015 of Doug Middleton, App State could see Duck or Duffey in serious competition as early as August.
Story by: Brooks Maynard, Sports Reporter
Photo courtesy of Appalachian State Football