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Williams QB Mahan sets sights on Duke

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Williams High School junior quarterback Dan Mahan has announced a commitment to play football for Duke, with the opportunity too good to pass up, he said.

So he’ll be passing for the Blue Devils rather than Appalachian State.

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“Over spring break, I finally had some time off from school,” Mahan said. “We visited Duke a couple of times. I caved in. It was better than I could have imagined. I was kind of going to just give them a chance because I was pretty locked in with App. They did an amazing job of recruiting me and my family. Duke kind of recruits itself. It’s just a different world with the education. . . the connections. It’s something hard to pass up, for sure.”

Mahan, who’s finishing his junior school year, is pegged to be part of Duke’s incoming Class of 2025.

Dan Mahan

In mid-November, Mahan announced that he had committed to play for Appalachian State. About five months later, he announced a decommitment from the Mountaineers, with the word regarding Duke coming less than a week later.

“I hadn’t really had any time to make a true decision since I got that offer from Duke,” he said. “I was going to [visit] Duke just to give them a favor. They gave me a scholarship (offer). I was still open-minded. . .  It would have taken a lot to get me away from App. Once I got there, I fell in love with it.”

Williams quarterback Dan Mahan makes a move during 2023 victory at Northwest Guilford.

Duke has a new staff under head coach Manny Diaz, who was hired in December. Offensive coordinator Jonathan Brewer arrived from Southern Methodist.

Brewer visited Williams to watch Mahan throw after school one day, including a long conversation following that session. Several days later, he had a scholarship offer from the Blue Devils.

“It really opened my eyes to a lot of schools have offered me without getting to know me, without coming to watch me throw in person,” Mahan said.

After Mahan decommitted from Appalachian State, he received an offer from Wake Forest. That created speculation that he might be heading to a different Atlantic Coast Conference program. By then, Mahan said he was set on Duke.

There was also familiarity with new Duke tight ends coach Justin Watts, who had been the pass game coordinator as an Appalachian State assistant.

Mahan’s only 2023 visit to Duke was for the season opener against Clemson, when the Blue Devils pulled off a stunning upset followed by a postgame field storming.

“It was going to be hard to top that game,” he said.

Mahan will be the second Williams player going to Duke in the past couple of decades. Following a 2008 redshirt season, Tony Foster played as a receiver and then a defensive back for the Blue Devils from 2009-12.

Mahan is a two-year starter for Williams, but only one season at quarterback. Last year despite missing considerable time with ankle injuries, he completed 140 of 238 passes for 1,776 yards and 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He rushed for eight touchdowns.

There’s still the matter of completing his junior baseball season as the Williams catcher and then a senior year with the Bulldogs. He said he hasn’t settled on a major at Duke.

“I’m ready to bunker down and focus out here at Williams,” Mahan said. “I’m going to give it all I got and just focus on what we’ve got here. I wanted to commit before the (school year) was over so I could really focus on my senior year.”

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