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Record crowd turns out for Duke’s Meet the Blue Devils day

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    Chuck Liddy - cliddy@newsobserver.com
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    Chuck Liddy - cliddy@newsobserver.com
    Alex Waters, 4, of Morrisville, N.C. dances with her Blue Devil doll as she attends the "Meet the Blue Devils" football event in Durham, N.C. Saturday, August 16, 2014.
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    Chuck Liddy - cliddy@newsobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/16/19/16/3x3nZ.Em.138.jpeg|178
    Chuck Liddy - cliddy@newsobserver.com
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    Chuck Liddy - cliddy@newsobserver.com
    Marisa Jannetta snaps a photo of injured Duke linebacker Kelby Brown with Whitney Breeze during the 2014 edition of "Meet the Blue Devils" at the Pascal Field House at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Saturday, August 16, 2014.

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On a day when more than 3,000 people came to Duke’s annual Meet the Blue Devils Day – compared to 1,700 last year – one player signed longer than all the rest.

As employees were folding up tables where other position groups had been signing autographs on Saturday, quarterback Anthony Boone was still going strong. He engaged both adults and kids as he signed posters, helmets and footballs, and in between, he stood to pose for hundreds of pictures. When a staff member tried to do him a favor and take his Sharpie, he waved her off, saying he could sign all day.

“It makes their day, and it makes my day to make them smile,” Boone said, though his actions are stronger evidence to that than any words.

Coach David Cutcliffe has often shared stories over the past two years of warm receptions on recruiting trips all over the country, in high schools as far away as California – a result of the national exposure Duke received from playing in the Belk Bowl, the ACC Championship and the Peach Bowl. But equally important, or perhaps even more important, days like Saturday show the Blue Devils are making progress winning over local fans. It’s a crowded college football market, and there’s room for Duke, too.

Thirty minutes before the doors opened, the line to get in extended well into the parking lot, and as 2 o’clock hit, it began wrapping around so it wouldn’t be in danger of spilling out onto Cameron Boulevard. “A sea of people” was how Cutcliffe described the view from his vantage point.

“I’m pretty sure if we have another great year,” Boone said, “we’re going to have to extend the time next year.”

Twitter: @laurakeeley
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