Shaquille Powell is a complete running back, combining power and speed with abilities to catch and block.
The Bishop Gorman High School senior is equally capable in the classroom, with tentative plans to major in biology in college and possibly enter medicine.
So it made sense when Powell made an oral commitment to Duke on Sunday at the end of his official recruiting visit to the Durham, N.C., campus.
The chance to attend an elite school on scholarship while challenging for carries as a freshman proved enough for Powell to make his choice well ahead of the Feb. 1 signing day.
“That’s really the main two things,” Powell said of academics and early playing time. “They’re going to change that program around. I have faith. They just need some good recruits, and I consider myself a pretty good player. It’s the best place to really push me.”
Powell picked the Blue Devils over heavy interest from Vanderbilt, Illinois and UNR. He also had a scholarship offer from UNLV.
“I just got that gut feeling where you know where you want to go,” said Powell, who was accompanied on his Duke visit by his mother and aunt. “I believe that this college suits me and what I value.
“I really liked Reno, too, but the (Duke) visit separated itself from the rest.”
Powell said Duke coaches indicated they do not want the 5-foot-9-inch, 200-pound recruit to redshirt next year.
Duke was 3-9 this season and hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1995.
“I think he’ll make an immediate impact (for Duke),” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “He’s a versatile back, can catch the ball and does a phenomenal job blocking.
“He’s one of the best players and people I’ve coached, and I love him to death.”
As a running back and defensive back, Powell is one of the most productive players in Gorman history.
Powell rushed for 2,458 yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior, leading the Gaels (16-1) to a third straight Class 4A state title. He rushed for 5,407 yards and scored 94 total TDs in his prep career.
“I really couldn’t ask for a better situation,” Powell said. “To stay injury free in a (senior) season with no byes, it was hard to do and maintain myself. I’ve got to thank my coaches.”
Powell’s commitment to Duke is so solid, he said he already has plans to wear jersey No. 28 upon his arrival.
He also looks forward to a friendly Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry with former Gorman teammate Jalen Grimble, who will be a sophomore defensive lineman at Miami next season.
"We talked about it," Powell said. "We played with each other for three years, and now we’re going to play against each other for three years."
Competition for struggling UNLV to land local recruits is as difficult as ever.
Sanchez said several Gorman seniors were on official visits this weekend. The headliner is offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, who took a trip to Notre Dame.
Stanley said in a text message he had not made a commitment.
Gorman guard Ron Scoggins and linebacker Zach Hutchins took weekend visits to San Jose State, and linebacker Marc Philippi checked out Montana.