"Are you ready for some football?" Those were the first words heard when Coach David Cutcliffe addressed the media to open last season. A few months later, Duke finished with four wins which tied the total of victories from the prior four years combined. They were competative and improved and it was indeed the start of the dawn of a new day.
If you think it's been quiet around the football offices in the Yoh Center you are right. That's because the staff has been out in force on the recruiting trail and they're literally recruiting as I type. But when in thier offices, they are already working hard and preparing for the 2009 season.
This past weekend, the program celebrated the past during the Annual Football Banquet where Michael Tauliliili won the MVP award the same day he won that same award in the East-West Shrine Bowl All Star game.
While Duke may have celebrated the past, the future was very much on the staffs mind. Duke welcomed four incoming prospects for their official visits and had a top recruit in town to check out the campus and meet with the coaches.
You already know of the four freshman that enrolled for the spring semester and if you don't go to our archives. What you may not realize is that the four will be counted in with last seasons class which consisted of 17 players. That means Duke has created some openings. At this time, Duke has 26 verbals.
Here are the answers to some burning question and a run down of the very latest happenings around the football program for fans of the Blue Devil Nation -
Who visited this weekend?
Taylor Sowell (6-0, 174, Dorman, S.C.) projects as a cornerback and he happens to be a high school teammate of South Carolina Shrine Bowl MVP, Walt Canty (5-10, 165) who also plays in the secondary.
Also, in town was Desmond Scott, a local player who attended Durham Hillside. Scott is a 5-9, 177 running back. Scott was joined by August Campbell, a 6-2 190 player who plays for Christ School in Arden, N.C. Campbell projects in the secondary as well.
Who was the top prospect that visited?
That would be Mike Marry, a 6-3, 220 middle linebacker/tight end. Duke has had their in homes with the prospect and he was on campus this past weekend. He speaks highly of Duke defensive coordinator Mike McIntyre and many feel it will come down to Mississippi or Duke.
When is the Annual Duke Football Spring Game slated?
The game will take place on April the 18th at 1:30. Be there!
Is the team working out?
Harder than ever. The team lifts weights Monday, Wednesday and Friday and they run on Tuesday and Thursday.
Will our staff return intact?
At this time it certainly looks as if Duke will retain the entire staff, but there were overtures made with no less than five of the coaches.
Any additions to the staff?
James Mitchell from Tennessee joins the staff and he comes highly regarded. He even has a championship ring from Coach Pat Summitt from his work in Knoxville. In fact he worked with the football and basketball programs in Knoxville. He will have many duties and we'll share those with you in an article which is coming soon.
What about stadium improvements?
Duke is addressing the bathroom situation and one concession stand for next season. The next phase will be improvements to the Yoh Center and practice facilities then they'll goback to Wallace Wade.
Is the roster out yet?
Yes it is out at GoDuke.com.
How did the awards banquet go?
Will there be position changes?
You betcha. They are being discussed by the staff.
Is the schedule out?
Not at this time. There are three ACC teams that are still seeking a 12th game and once that is resolved, the ACC will make the announcement.
I'm a high school football player and I want to go to the Duke Football Spring Clinic, when is it?
It will be held on March 26 and 27. Give the football office a call and they'll give you all the details.
Do you know the dates for the Duke Football Camp?
Yep! The camp will be held on successive weekends June 13 and June 20th. Again, contact the football office for details.
Is the twelfth game set?
It will almost certainly be North Carolina Central which will be a first for the Durham community. Look for them to come in the fourth game of the season. Duke will use this as an opportunity to reach out to Durham and the surrounding community.
What are we playing two division 2 opponents?
Some are making this out to be unusual, but if you take a look at Clemson, Florida State and Maryland's schedule this past season, there is two and this trend will continue.
Why can't we play a division one school?
Several reasons, mainly finding someone who is available. Then there is the going asking rate of up to $900,000 for an opponent and in this current economy the numbers tell the tale.
Will have a coke with Coach Cut return?
Yes it will. The Duke staff is hard at work to identify new opportunities to get fans interested as well. Blue Devils Night will also return.
What have they learned from last season?
Funny you should ask, because they are addressing what worked and what didn't with concerns to game day experiences and promotions. There will be a refined game day experience and the Blue Devil Walk will return. The staff will make an effort to get more students to the games and fans in general. Duke prefers to play games between 3:30 and 7:00 when at home for studies show they are better attended than noon starts which are sometimes necessary due to T.V. They recognize that the student tailgate gets up to 1200 attendees and that many don't make it over to the game. They will work on the rest of the student body in the coming year.
Is Cutcliffe here to stay?
Well, he signed a contract extension and he is determined to build Duke into a solid football program.
What are the four F's that so many within the program speak of?
That would be faith, family, future and football.
When will season tickets go on sale?
Good question. I'll work on that one. Duke sold more tickets last season than ever before. Check back soon on this one and more off season news.