2011 Commit Chris Tavarez Updates BDN on his Official Visit and Senior Year

Happy New Year, Blue Devil Nation! 2011 will be an important year for Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devil football program, as they look to continue their rebuilding effort and bring Duke to its first bowl game since 1994. While Duke will return a number of talented players on both sides of the ball, the 2011 recruiting class also features an impressive group of athletes that will bolster the depth at several positions. It is no secret that the Duke defensive secondary struggled in 2010, and the class of 2011 will add 3 players who expect to fight for playing time in the backfield as true freshmen. Among these is Chris Tavarez, a 5’11” safety out of Atlanta, Georgia. Chris was in Durham on an official visit in December and caught up with Blue Devil Nation afterwards.

BDN: Can you briefly recap your official visit to Duke?

I went down there with all of the other committed players and a few of them that weren’t committed and I had a lot of fun. My host was Matt Daniels, who is the starting strong safety, which I’m trying to play at Duke, and also the leading tackler. That was cool to see, you know, from a leader’s standpoint; I got to ask him questions and see how he likes Duke and his experiences, and even the bad parts about Duke, what he doesn’t like or what he wishes he could change, what he wants to improve on. That was cool, he was a great host. We ate a whole bunch, we ate a lot, probably four times a day, which is great because I’m always hungry and I’m always stressing to my parents that I’ve got to eat. It was fun and I learned a lot. I got to meet with a business major and talk to him, because I’m planning on either being a business major or a sociology major, so I got to talk to the business major and that was great to get his insight and his points. I think the most important part for me was that I got to talk to the safeties coach, Coach Knowles, and we broke down film and we got on board and he explained to me that I would best at playing the rover position at safety, and broke down every position in the defense. He told me what my best assets were and what Duke needed me for basically. I loved it, it was a great time, I got to talk to Coach Cutcliffe, the head coach, and yeah, everything was good.

BDN: There were some other commits in the secondary on campus that weekend. Can you talk about your relationship with them?

I was with Tim Burton and Jared Boyd. That was my first time meeting Tim, but I had met Jared, because Jared plays for Stephenson, a school – actually a powerhouse – over here in Georgia. He’s one of the best d-backs in Georgia, so I’ve met him through combines and we’ve played each other, and they really gave it to us, they killed us. [Laughs] Yeah, though, I actually met Jared at a combine at Georgia Tech, so that was cool to kind of be in competition with someone and then realize that he’s going to the same school as you. So that’s good to know we’re going to be on the same team. I met Tim, who I had heard a lot about Tim going into the official. I heard that he was probably one of the fastest recruits that we’ve got, so that’s good because speed is always needed. He’s a small guy, but what I love about Tim is that he talks a big game. Usually people that talk a big game have to bring some results after it, they have to bring some skill, so I love those guys, because I’m like that. I’m really talkative on the field, always trying to hype my boys up, always trying to make the next play, so I think that’s what we really need in 2011 and that’s going to be a great asset on the football field. I’m really psyched about our secondary, I think we’re going to look strong – all three of us have the potential to start and play as freshmen.

BDN: How much were you able to follow Duke’s season and where do you think the program is headed?

Duke’s 2010 season, it wasn’t all that, obviously. I think that we could have won a lot of games, we could have won at least 5 of those games that we lost. A lot of those games were lost by a touchdown or below, so it’s not like we’re just getting pummeled by these teams. It was just the little mistakes, I mean, we’re a young team and it’s the little mistakes that we’re making that didn’t get us the victory. I think with a lot of changes and with the recruits, we can definitely be top ACC contenders. I give us, probably two years, and we’ll be top ACC contenders, because it’s only the small things we have to change. We definitely have a bright future, our recruiting is getting way stronger and by no time we’ll be up there with the basketball program.

BDN: It looks like your team had a tough season. Can you give us a brief recap of your senior year for us?

What’s ironic is that we were going through the same thing Duke was with a very inexperienced, young team. We ended up 3-7 and it was kind of hard, because I’m coming off of a season, my junior year, where we only lost 2 games during the season and made it to the playoffs, to come to 3-7. So it was a pretty difficult time for me and I was also injured, mostly half of the season with a high ankle sprain, that I had to take easy and ice everyday in practice. It really sucked, but when I came back they put me at middle linebacker because I was one of the strongest hitters and one of the guys that makes sure tackles, so they put me at middle linebacker and I tried to do the best I could there, even though I was undersized being 190 or 185. I also played special teams, kickoff, kick return and that’s about it. I think Westlake, just like Duke, is going to have a good future in the years to come because we’re a really young team.

BDN: What are your plans for the offseason? What’s next for you?

My plan right now, Patrick, is just to get faster, stronger, and bigger. That’s my whole thing. What I got a lot from the players is really stress conditioning. After I sign my letter of intent, Duke will be sending me a book on the conditioning that I need to start working on and my workout plan. The players and the coaches really, I mean in capitals, REALLY stressed the conditioning because no one wants to go there as a freshman planning on playing and can’t even run the conditioning requirements. I’m really working on that. I want to get big, but I also want to keep my stamina where it is. Those are my plans. I want to at least get to Duke at around 205 or 210 pounds, and then during summer camp and all the conditioning I’ll probably slim back down to 200, 195 so I can be solid enough to play. Those are really my things. I also want to be able to learn the playbook pretty fast, so I’m always in touch with Matt Daniels, the safety over there, asking him about the plays and coverages and stuff like that.

BDN: When can Duke fans expect to see you on campus?

I actually have to talk to my counselor about that, but most likely the first session, I’ll be there, I think it’s May 18. I’d then have to fly back down for my graduation and then I’ll go back up there. It’s looking like the first session, I don’t know for sure.

BDN: That’s great. Thanks so much, Chris. We all look forward to seeing you in Durham. Best of luck with your senior year.

Yessir, thank you Patrick.

Blue Devil fans can catch Chris in the annual Metro Atlanta All Star Game, which will be played on January 8 at Grady Stadium in Atlanta. Blue Devil Nation will continue to bring updates on Duke football’s class of 2011 right up through signing day.

Game Story scratched! Thanks for the Memories Coach!

Thanks for the memories Coach! Let's make some more!

GREENSBORO – Face it, Greensboro Coliseum has been good to Duke over the years and you can make  a case for calling the place Cameron West.  There was no better setting for Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski to pass North Carolina’s Dean Smith to take hold of sole possession of 2nd place on the All Time Wins list.

Everywhere you looked there was royal blue and the fans in attendance really seemed to enjoy being a part of history.  On a night when Kyle Singler dropped 27 points and Nolan Smith added 26, the shadow of Kryzewski was just too big to even discuss the game, one where Duke won handily with a 108-62 win over UNC-Greensboro.

I am dating myself here, but I was there when Mike Krzyzewski was named the new Duke Basketball Coach,  I watched him as he grew a program.  I watched as he stuck by his man to man defense and motion offense until he had the proper players to run it.  I watched as some notable Duke fans wanted his head.  I was there when his team hit a low losing to Wagner in Cameron and I also witnessed Virginia and Ralph Sampson thumping his Devils to where they’d remember it and seek revenge and the programs revenge included many more teams than the Cavaliers as his ascent began.

Then again, I was there when he won each national championship and when his team got to their first NCAA Tournament.  Pictures hang in Cameron where I was there for his return too with my index finger held high.  And folks, I’m only scratching the surface for I have truly been there from the start, up close and personal from the very beginning.  In short, the good memories are plentiful, a bounty of riches that are too numerous to cover.

Photo copyright, Rick Crank and BDN

By now you’re thinking that this is not about my fandom for we all have wonderful memories as Blue Devil faithful and there are some who have been just as  fortunate as me.  But while it is really about Krzyzewski and his incredible success at Duke University, it is about me as well.  And if you’re a fan, it’s about you too.

You see, in a sense we are all in this together, a large family, at times dysfunctional with silly message board disagreements, but together once the ball is tipped in a Duke Basketball game.  It’s about us for without the appreciation and memories, nobody would be around to tell of the man’s and I do mean the mans exploits.  The memories are ours as they are Coaches.

So, to heck with a game story this evening.  We appreciate the teams efforts, but 880 wins!  Buy you a bag of Peanut M & M’s and toss that many into a bowl if you have one big enough.  Drop a case of toothpicks on the floor and pick up 880 of them.  Coach K’s accomplishment is in one word amazing and I’m sure you are just as thrilled as I am.  All I can say, is thanks for the ride coach!  On second thought, check that, for the ride is not over and I for one am thankful for that.

Christ School and Marshall Plumlee stroll past Brandon, MS 70-46

There has been a long tradition of future Duke players playing in the Glaxo Smith Kline Holiday Invitational Tournament over the years.  Some of the more memorable performances were turned in by Will Avery and Chris Duhon as well current Chicago Bulls star, Luol Deng.  This season there is but one future Blue Devil participating, that being Marshall Plumlee of Christ School Arden.

Of course, there would have been two Blue Devils had former verbal Tyler Adams, a 6-10 center form Brandon, Mississippi not backed out.  Adams is now headed to Georgetown but his team was originally invited because of his original Duke ties.  Interestingly, Adams and Plumlee’s teams squared off in the opener.

Adams started the game with a block of Plumlee’s first shot and he went on to score 17 points in the first half, ending the game with 21 points, 11 rebounds.   Plumlee went scoreless in the first half, but settled down in the second and he had better stats than Adams after the break.  Plumlee ended the game with 9 points and 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 blocked shot.

But this wasn’t a match up solely between the two bigs and Christ School was the much deeper team and they played their entire 12 man roster.  So while some may point to head to head stats, the important stat was that Christ School had little trouble with Brnadon defeating them by a 70-46 score.

By playing a deep rotation, this meant Plumlee didn’t get the same minutes as Adams.  Trey Brown added 12 points and the next top scorer had a mere 4 points for Brandon.  Meanwhile, Christ School got 20 points from Damarcus Harrison and 10 more from T.D. Dixon.

Towards the end of the contest, Adams was visibly tired but he is still a load in the paint and he has developed a nice little outside shot since the AAU circuit this summer.  Plumlee showed a baby hook, the ability to follow missed shots with authoritative dunks and a family trait in good, really good, passing skills.

One must also remember that a common practice in today’s high school basketball world is to hold a id back a year for maturity.  That was the case with Marshall’s brothers, Mason and Miles.  So, in short, Marshall has not had that extra year as had they and if he did, it would be an advantage.

The youngest of the Plum 3′s is still developing and is a work in progress, but those close to the program are happy where he is and they can see his improvement.  Again, Christ School doesn’t go inside to him often, so he battles for the scraps more often than not.

“I got Marshall to settle down after half time and he recognized the double teams coming at him allowing him to get the ball to open teammates.  His jump shot from the free throw line helped open the game up a bit,” said Christ School Coach David Gaines.

Christ School plays again this evening at 7:20 which conflicts with the Duke-UNC-Greensboro game but they will also play on Thursday, so local Triangle are fans have two chances to see him play.  We’ll touch base with Marshall in the coming days for he was not available to the media last evening.  Marshall most recently won the dunk contest at City of Palms.