BDN interviews Austin Rivers – “Duke was the place for me and I knew it, so I made the calls”

BDN just spoke to an elated Austin Rivers about his decision to go to Duke. All the details await members of BDN Premium - BDN Photo

The Blue Devil Nation is on cloud nine today for Austin Rivers made the decision to cancel the remaining visits to Kansas and North Carolina to sign with the Duke Blue Devils.  BDN wasted little time in getting the details and we share his interview in his own word with the members of Blue Devil Nation Premium.  It’s a great time to join! We decided to let our members hear [private] the raw recording as is for we want you to personally hear his excitement and his words for yourself.

Just press play -

More to come for members of BDN Premium. [/private]

The wait is over! Austin Rivers is a Duke Blue Devil (U)

Rivers will play his college basketball for Coach K in Durham.

How refreshing is it to see one of the nations very best commit and not do so on ESPN or Skype?  Well, that’s what Austin Rivers did when he called the Blue Devils to tell them it’s time to get this done.  Austin Rivers will be a Duke Blue Devil next season and he joins Marshall Plumlee. Michael Gbinije and Tyler Adams in what will surely be one of the highest ranked recruiting classes in the country.  We’ve remained confident that Rivers would be a Blue Devil since last July, but all fans wanted so badly for it to be official and now it is.

Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and rated by many as the top player in his class.  He has all the tools to play at every level in basketball and his annoucment that he will comer to Durham is grand reason for Duke fans to be excited.  Rivers decided to cancel visits to Kansas and Duke’s arch rival North Carolina and Duke fans can give him a warm welcome at Countdown to Craziness on October the 15th where some tickets still remain.

BDN Premium will have more on his decision coming, so stay tuned to BDN for the latest on Duke’s most recent blue chip prospect signing.

Duke DE Prospect Joe Massaquoi talks recruiting

Joe Massaquoi is a 6’5” 230 pound defensive end prospect at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Joe was originally scheduled to make an unofficial visit to Duke for the Alabama game, but had to reschedule. The senior spoke with Coach Zac Roper this week, and is now planning on visiting Duke with several high school teammates on October 16 for the Miami game. “I spoke to Coach Roper on Tuesday and told him I was coming for the Miami game and he actually said he’s coming to watch me on October 24,” Joe told BDN in a recent interview.  

Joe currently holds one scholarship offer from East Carolina, but has had recent interest from Duke, NC State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, and a few other ACC schools. In fact, several of these schools have asked him to delay his decision until they can fully evaluate him, and Joe has respected their requests. “I haven’t committed yet because I want to let other schools evaluate me and I don’t want to leave anybody out,” he explained. Joe will likely make his college decision after his high school season, so that schools are able to evaluate film from the fall.  

As for his high school season, TC Williams is currently 1-3, but Joe says “we’re hoping to bounce back this week. We’ve lost two straight, both to really good top 20 teams.” As a senior standout, Joe has had to face multiple double teams, and is working hard at fighting through them.  

During the summer, Joe visited several campuses for summer camps and 7-on-7 tournaments, where he played tight end. Those visits included Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Virginia, Richmond, East Carolina, and Virginia Tech. He felt that the camps helped him to really improve his pass rushing ability in camps, and says his ability to get penetration is now his biggest strength. 

Joe is looking for a school where he feels comfortable and isn’t too far away from home. “I’ve got to like the coaches; I want them to be easy to get along with,” he said. In addition to his prowess on the gridiron, Joe is also a standout on the basketball court and the lacrosse field. While he intends to focus on football in college, it sounded like he’s always up for a game of pick-up. 

“I’m just a really hard worker. If I struggle with something at first, I’ll work hard and get better and I hope fans will appreciate that,” he told BDN in closing. 

For more on Joe, visit this recruiting spotlight by the Washington Post with some practice and game highlig

Stats Update: Conner Vernon has an Excellent Game but Turnovers Tell the Tale

Conner Vernon leads the ACC in Receptions per Game and Receiving Yards per Game
Sometimes statistics can be misleading while other times they concisely tell the tale. In Saturday’s 35-21 loss to the Army Black Knights one needs to look no further than the five Blue Devil turnovers to understand the outcome. Sean Renfree threw interceptions on two of Duke’s first three possessions, which resulted in the Cadets jumping all over the Blue Devils early and never looking back.

Duke lost fumbles on their first two possessions of the second half and Army pushed their lead to 35-7 by converting Duke’s turnovers into touchdowns. With five turnovers on Saturday, the Blue Devils saw their turnover plus/minus fall to minus four for the season, which is last in the ACC.

On the positive side, wide receiver Conner Vernon had eight receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. Vernon has three touchdown receptions so far this season and all have been on receptions greater than 50 yards.

Vernon leads the ACC in Receiving Yards per Game (112.1) and Receptions per Game (7). Those numbers result in a national ranking of seven and 14 respectively. In post game comments, Coach Cutcliffe described Vernon as, “…one of the toughest young men that you will ever come across…he can be a great football player.”

As good a game as Vernon had, he was responsible for one of the turnovers when he fumbled while fighting for extra yards on a reception early in the second half.

Donovan Varner is tied for fourth in the ACC, with Florida State’s Bert Reed, in Receptions per game with 5.8, while Austin Kelly is number eight with 4.8 receptions per game. With three of the league’s top eight receivers, Duke’s receiving corps is living up to its reputation as the most talented in the ACC.

Sean Renfree’s seven interceptions this season are troublesome; however, he still leads the ACC in Passing Yards per Game at 278.2 yards and he has thrown nine touchdowns. Renfree seemed to be a bit out of sync against Army so he needs to have a good week in practice and reacquire the razor sharp edge he has previously displayed.

Duke continues to display an ability to run the ball by rushing 24 times for 111 yards against the Black Knights. Duke is averaging 144.5 yards per game, on the season, which is ninth in the ACC and number 72 in the nation. Duke has rushed for over 100 yards in all four games this season after accomplishing the benchmark only once in 12 games in 2009. The one occurrence in 2009 was against FCS opponent North Carolina Central University.

This season Desmond Scott (277 yards), Josh Snead (158 yards) and Brandon Connette (118 yards) all have the potential to breakout on a long run. Their long runs on the season are 63, 27 and 48 yards, respectively.

On the defensive side of the ball true freshman linebacker Kelby Brown recorded six solo tackles and was credited with four assists for a total of 10 tackles. Senior Abraham Kromah was responsible for a total of 13 tackles with four being solo. Safeties Matt Daniels and Walt Canty were credited with nine and eight tackles respectively.

Kromah is tied for ninth in the ACC at 7.8 tackles per game while Daniels is tied for 12th with 7.5.

Two worrisome defensive statistical categories are Sacks and Tackles for Loss. Duke does not have a single player who breaks out amongst the 20 listed by the ACC in these two categories. Duke is tied with Boston College for last place in the ACC in sacks.

Here is how Duke stands in the ACC and NCAA in 10 statistical categories:

1. Total offense: dropped to number four in the ACC and number 38 in the nation. Offensive yardage dropped from 443.7 to 425.8 yards per game. Duke was number three and 27 last week.

2. Time of possession: dropped from number one in the ACC to number six as Army dominated this statistic. Duke’s time of possession fell from 32 minutes and 27 to 29 minutes and 21 seconds per game.

3. Third down conversions: Duke was 1 – 8 on third down against Army, which lowered their success rate to 42.9% resulting in Duke falling to number six in the ACC and number 48 in the nation.

4. Red zone offense: Duke remains at 100 percent success in the red zone scoring nine touchdowns and four field goals in 13 opportunities.

5. First downs: fell from number one in the ACC to number three with 87 first downs. The Blue Devils have rushed for 29, passed for 52, and been awarded six via penalties. These numbers result in Duke falling from being tied with Notre Dame at number 16 in the nation last week to being number 37 this week.

6. Total defense: improved to number 11 in the ACC and number 110 in the nation as they decreased total yards allowed to 466.2 from 510.7 yards of offense per game.

7. Scoring defense: Duke remains last in the ACC giving up an average 44.5 points per game down from 47.7 points per game. Those numbers still rank number 118 in the nation. The 35 points given up to Army can be partially attributed to the Blue Devils turnover issues.

8. Opponent first downs: improved to number 11 in the ACC and number 106 in the nation by giving up 92 first downs. Opponents have rushed for 47, passed for 39 and been awarded six via penalty.

9. Red zone defense: Opponents have scored on Duke in 16 out of 18 red zone opportunities. Duke improved to being tied with Clemson for number nine in the ACC and number 91 in the nation.

10. Turnover margin: Last but definitely not least, Duke now has a minus four (-4) in turnover margin, which is last in the ACC and tied for number 100 in the nation. Last week the Blue Devils were ranked number five in the ACC and number 33 in the nation.

Turnover margin is the one statistic Duke must turn around in a hurry if they are to win ball games. Turnovers played a crucial role in the losses to Wake Forest and Army. Without the turnovers, Duke could arguably be sporting a 3-1 record. Teams cannot win ball games against an evenly matched opponent when they turn the ball over. Saturday’s game against Maryland is a game the Blue Devils are capable of winning if they take care of the football and force the Terps to cough it up once or twice.

All statistics quoted in this article are from www.theacc.com and www.ncaa.com.

Sam Marshall will bolster Duke’s defensive front in 2011

Sam Marshall is a 6’8” 260 pound senior lineman from Fredericksburg, Virginia. He committed to the Blue Devils in July and recently returned to campus to take in the Alabama game. BDN checked in with the big defensive end prospect after his visit.

“Overall, the visit was good, particularly the atmosphere and the fans,” he told BDN about his visit. “It was a tough loss, but I still saw some good things.”

During his visit, Sam was able to catch up with Coach Roper, Coach Hobby, and Coach Cutcliffe. He told BDN the coaching staff and the prestige of a Duke education were the big selling points that led to his commitment. Though he plays both offense and defense in high school, the Blue Devils’ coaching staff intends to use Sam on defense, which was another important factor in his decision, as other schools were recruiting him as an offensive lineman. His height is likely to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, which will be a welcome new dimension to the Duke defense. Before choosing the Blue Devils, Sam held offers from Virginia, North Carolina State, Marshall, Louisville, East Carolina, and Western Michigan.


Sam’s team at Chancellor High School has started off 2-1, though Sam missed the second game (a loss) with an ankle sprain. He said he’s back near 100% now, and is working on “getting stronger and faster and better in all areas” over the course of his senior year. So far, he’s recorded 6 tackles and a sack in two games.

In closing, Sam told BDN, “I’m excited to join the Duke program and help the team any way I can.”

Blue Devil Women entertained two of the nation’s top prospects in Laney and Fagbenle

Laney takes it in the paint for Team USA - courtesy USA Basketball

DURHAM – The Duke Women’s Basketball team will sport one of the best freshman classes ever to come through Duke this season after a banner recruiting season but the Blue Devils will not rest on their laurels.  The Blue Devils have targeted some of the nations top prospects and two of those visited campus this past weekend.

One of the prospects in town was Betnijah Laney one of the class of 2011′s best and Temi Fagbenle.  Laney stands 6-0 and is in the process of moving to the wing and by all accounts that transition is going smoothly.  Laney was first termed a power forward but most analyst think she will be a wing forward in college.  She had a very successful summer where she was one of the better players on Team USA U-16′s Gold Medel team.  Duke is high on the prospect as are several other schools which include UConn, Rutgers and Virginia.

Temi Fagbenle is currently playing for Blair Academy and she got there via her hometown of London, England in an effort to prepare to play her college basketball state side.  The word on the recruiting trail is that she has showed great strides in her game and she possess all the tools to become a solid and versatile player at the next level.  Fagbenle stands 6-4 and is being courted by Duke, Connecticut, Rutgers among others.  She is ranked amongst the nations best and plays AAU ball for the Philly Belles.

Coach P’s Duke Women open the season with their annual Blue-White scrimmage on October 24th.  Duke welcomes five five new freshman which we’ll talk more of in our women’s pre season preview coming next week to BDN.