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Gorman: Early move helps Duquesne get a steal in Stone

| Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 10:34 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic running back Nate Stone hauls in a pass during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association 7 on 7 football tournament at Franklin Regional High School on July 18, 2013, in Murrysville.

Nate Stone knew that with a strong senior season he might have had an opportunity to play Division I-A football.

Not only were American Athletic and Mid-American conference members showing interest in the Greensburg Central Catholic linebacker, but so were Ivy League institutions.

So, it was surprising — if not stunning — when the 6-foot, 235-pounder committed to Division I-AA Duquesne last week.

“I felt at home at Duquesne,” Stone said. “That it was a place where I'd be important, not just another number.”

Stone might have started a trend. Where Duquesne has lured talented WPIAL recruits from quarterback Dillon Buechel from Montour to BCS transfers in linebacker Dorian Bell from Gateway and Ohio State and quarterback Chavas Rawlins from Monessen and West Virginia, the Dukes are going after major-college recruits at a time typically owned by BCS schools.

Despite having Akron, Bowling Green and Cincinnati among his suitors, Stone took a stand by saying he wants to stay home.

“A lot of people told me to wait, that I'd be a MAC or Big East guy, but that's where I wanted to be,” said Stone, whose friendship with Rawlins played a part in his decision.

“They have a lot of big-time prospects. Chavas going there was a big thing for me. Me, him and his brother Justice have been close since our seventh-grade year. I felt at home there, like they really wanted me to be there.”

What was harder was to turn down an Ivy League education. Cornell, Penn and Princeton were recruiting Stone, and he admits he was tempted.

“Me and my mom had talked about the kind of life you could have with an Ivy League education,” Stone said, “but I felt like I wanted to stay close to home and whether I go into pre-law, pharmacy or business I could still get a good education.”

Stone said Duquesne assistant coaches Gary Dunn and John Rosato had been in “constant contact, expressing how interested they were and how they wanted me to be a Duke” since they saw him and offered a scholarship at a Pitt skills camp.

It allows Stone to concentrate on his senior season.

“This takes a lot off my mind,” Stone said, “not worrying about recruiting.”

Instead of waiting until after Signing Day to see who slipped through the major-college cracks, Duquesne broke from past procedure by making the first move.

Not only did the Dukes get a steal in Stone, now a building block for their 2014 class, but they served notice that they aren't going to wait to be great.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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