Woodward Academy's Jordan Watkins is a highly coveted DE prospect

Georgia DE Jordan Watkins has a Duke offer, among many others

Woodward Academy's Jordan Watkins is a highly coveted DE prospect

While Duke is working hard to improve their defense on the field this spring, the coaching staff is also working hard to upgrade the defense with a talented group of prospects in the class of 2012. Several defensive line prospects have received verbal scholarship offers from the Blue Devils, including one of the top prospects in the state of Georgia. Jordan Watkins is a 6’6” 265 pound defensive line prospect from College Park, Georgia. As a junior at Woodward Academy, Jordan helped to lead the War Eagles to the state playoffs, finishing with a 10-2 overall record. The impressive defensive end has already received dozens of scholarship offers from national powers, including Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and dozens of other schools. Highlights of his junior season can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

Well, I think the biggest strengths for me, and my coaches have always stressed, is that God has blessed me with my size.  I’m 6’6”, 265 plus pounds, and also with that, that also means long arms as well.  So with long arms, I can keep blocks off of me, and get good extension on the offensive linemen.  And also as well, I’ve been blessed with good feet as well, and so the quick feet and good hands, I think they’re the 2 biggest things for me that I do well.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

The biggest thing is my strength.  I think that if I – to develop my strength a whole lot more then I can become a more complete player just from the fact that I’m playing both defensive end and defensive tackle, you know defensive end, you’re playing there, you can just kind of run, run the outside on people.  When you’re playing tackle, sometimes you have to beat the double teams and blocks like that, so I need to work on my strength.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

First for me would be from an academic standpoint, is, well I want my major to be either broadcast journalism or communications, so I’m looking for a school that has the best options for me in those fields, and then after that I look at the football standpoint, how good the team is and the prowess of the school, and also the support for the school. Those are the 2 big things that I’m looking at.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest, or have been hearing the most from?

The most, I think that’d be Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Alabama, those are the 3 main ones.  And then I think Auburn recently too.

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools so far?

I went to Alabama Senior Day Saturday, and I visited [Georgia] Tech today, actually.

BDN: How have those visits gone for you so far?

They’ve gone great.  With Alabama, I actually picked up an offer from Alabama, so, you know, that was a great feeling for me.  And Georgia Tech, I live so close to there, I’ve been there before, so today was more to try and gain some – I’m pretty sure academically everyone knows that Georgia Tech is an engineering school, things like that, so I was trying to see if there is anything they can offer me when it comes to broadcast journalism and communications, and what a lot of people don’t really know what Georgia Tech does have something to offer in that field, so it was a really good visit today.

BDN: Do you have any other visits planned for this spring or summer?

I have nothing set in stone yet, but I want to try to get some more school visits done.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to narrow things down or when you plan to make your college decision?

I’m trying to narrow it down, my coaches and my family, my parents down to about maybe 20, and then maybe by the fall or so trying to get it even lower down, maybe, like 15, 10, something like that. And then just keep going down from there, then when I feel comfortable where I want to go, then I’ll make my final decision.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jordan, and best of luck to you.

Okay, cool, thank you very much.

 

 

DE Allen Jackson had 83 tackles and 9 sacks for McDonogh as a junior

DE Allen Jackson commits to Duke

Allen Jackson gave a verbal commitment to Duke on Saturday

On a chilly and damp Saturday, the Blue Devils received their second verbal commitment of the class of 2012, as defensive end Allen Jackson gave his pledge to Head Coach David Cutcliffe and Duke. Jackson was among a large group of prospects and their families who were in Durham for the annual spring game.

Jackson is a 6’5” 225 pound defensive end prospect from Owings Mills, Maryland. Playing defensive end and tight end for McDonogh High School, Allen earned All-Conference honors as a junior, and had already received offers from Duke, Maryland, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia. Partnering with fellow defensive end Roman Braglio, Jackson forms one of the top pass-rushing duos in the mid-Atlantic region. In his junior season, Allen totaled 83 tackles and 9 sacks, numbers he’ll look to top in his senior year as he hopes to lead McDonogh to a state championship. Highlights from Allen’s junior year can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you talk about your visit this weekend and your decision to commit to Duke?

This weekend was great. Everything that we talked about, everything that was mentioned, contributed to my decision. Coming down, I didn’t know that I was going to commit. I knew that I liked Duke a lot, but I also liked Rutgers a lot. But it was just the Duke education and the things that they have there, I think that nobody in the country can provide me as far as the academics and the people that they have there. I didn’t think anyone else could amount to that, so that really played into my decision of picking Duke. And also, Coach Petri, his expertise on defensive linemen and approach to the game really intrigued me. That brought me closer to choosing Duke, and the Duke name was a big factor as well.

BDN: What were some of the things you talked about with Coach Petri as far as your role at Duke and things to work on this year?

They definitely see me as a defensive end and they like my athleticism, but definitely hope for me to keep continuing to lift as I am now and hopefully pick up some more pounds. But if not, when I arrive there in the summer, I definitely will continue to work out and pick up weight. He didn’t really see weight as being a big issue right now.

BDN: What are your plans for future visits either this spring or summer?

DE Allen Jackson had 83 tackles and 9 sacks for McDonogh as a junior

 

Well, I think I’m definitely going to go down and visit, probably take in some practices and maybe go on an official visit this summer. Other than that, I’m not quite sure at the moment, but I’m definitely going to go down some more, I’m just not sure the dates and times yet.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Allen and congratulations on your commitment.

Alright, thanks.

Sean Renfree found Conner Vernon for a 6-yard 2nd quarter TD.  BDN Photo

White defeats Blue, 21-14 in Duke Football Spring Game

Sean Renfree found Conner Vernon for a 6-yard 2nd quarter TD. BDN Photo

DURHAM, N.C. – Anthony Boone’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Tyree Watkins with 11:15 remaining in the fourth period lifted the White squad to a come-from-behind victory over the Blue unit in Duke’s annual Spring Game on Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Saturday’s event brought spring practice to a close for the Blue Devils.

The Blue team opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run by Patrick Kurunwune at the 8:51 mark of the first period.  Just over four minutes later, Brandon Connette found the end zone from 14 yards out on the ground to push the lead to 14-0.  The White team managed to pull within seven prior to halftime when Sean Renfree hooked up with Conner Vernon on a six-yard touchdown pass.

Midway through the third quarter, Desmond Scott brought the White unit even on the scoreboard with a 16-yard touchdown run.

On the day, Renfree connected on eight-of-14 passes for 105 yards and one touchdowns while Boone was seven-of-15 through the air for 94 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  Scott paced the White team with 56 rushing yards on 13 carries while Juwan Thompson gained 35 yards on nine rushes.  For the Blue unit, Connette completed 10-of-16 throws for 102 yards while rushing for 34 yards on eight attempts whileJosh Snead picked up 54 yards on six carries.

Watkins finished with six receptions for 67 yards while Brandon Braxton (21 yards), Cooper Helfet (64 yards) and Vernon (19 yards) had three catches apiece.

Defensively, Jamal Wallace carded a game-high seven tackles while Austin Gamble had six total stops.  Issac Blakeney, Walt Canty, Matt Daniels, C.J. France, Tyree Glover and Jonathan Woodruff logged five tackles each, with Blakeney also contributing two tackles for loss, one quarterback sack, one caused fumble, one quarterback pressure and one pass breakup.  Charlie Hatcher, Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and Tony Foster each recorded one quarterback sack while Garrett Rider’s interception in the fourth quarter was the game’s lone turnover.

Cutcliffe also announced the program’s award winners for spring practice award winners with Thompson (Most Improved Offensive Player), Ross Cockrell (Most Improved Defensive Player) and Preston Scott (Blue Devil Heart Award) claiming honors.

Duke opens the 2011 season at home on September 3 against Richmond.  Season tickets are available online at GoDuke.com or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 1-877-631-3853.

White 21, Blue 14

1st – 8:51 – Blue – Patrick Kurunwune 14 run (Jeffrey Ijjas kick)
1st – 4:15 – Blue – Brandon Connette 14 run (Paul Asack kick)
2nd – 7:05 – White – Conner Vernon 6 pass from Sean Renfree (Will Snyderwine kick)
3rd – 7:30 – White – Desmond Scott 16 run (Will Snyderwine kick)
4th – 11:15 – White – Tyree Watkins 32 pass from Anthony Boone (Will Snyderwine kick)

RUSHING: Desmond Scott 13-56, Josh Snead 6-54, Juwan Thompson 9-35, Brandon Connette 8-34, Anthony Boone 5-31, Sean Renfree 2-25, Patrick Kurunwune 4-23, Sean Schroeder 3-7, Team 1-(-1)
PASSING: Sean Renfree 8-14-0-105, Brandon Connette 10-16-0-102, Anthony Boone 7-15-1-94, Sean Schroeder 3-8-0-13
RECEIVING: Tyree Watkins 6-67, Cooper Helfet 3-64, Brandon Braxton 3-21, Conner Vernon 3-19, Juwan Thompson 2-43, Josh Trezvant 2-31, Desmond Scott 2-16, Braxton Deaver 2-13, Josh Snead 1-20, Preston Scott 1-12, Danny Parker 1-4, Jack Farrell 1-3, Patrick Kurunwune 1-1
PUNTING: Alex King 5-204-40.8
FIELD GOALS: Jeffrey Ijjas – 44 (no good)
TACKLES: Jamal Wallace 7, Austin Gamble 6, Issac Blakeney 5, Walt Canty 5, Matt Daniels 5, C.J. France 5, Tyree Glover 5, Jonathan Woodruff 5, Charlie Hatcher 4, Kevin Rojas 4, August Campbell 3, Nick Sink 3, Jordan Byas 2, Ross Cockrell 2, Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo 2, Anthony Young-Wiseman 2, Garrett Rider 2, Tony Foster 2, Jamal Bruce 2, Zach Greene 1, Garett Patterson 1, Curtis Hazelton 1, Steven Ingram 1, Will Boeckman 1, Sydney Sarmiento 1
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Issac Blakeney 2, Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo 1, Tony Foster 1, Charlie Hatcher 1
QUARTERBACK SACKS: Issac Blakeney 1, Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo 1, Tony Foster 1, Charlie Hatcher 1
PASS BREAKUPS: Issac Blakeney 1, Jordan Byas 1, C.J. France 1, Ned Smith 1, Johnny Williams 1, Anthony Young-Wiseman 1
QB PRESSURES: Issac Blakeney 1, Kevin Rojas 1, Jamal Wallace 1, Anthony Young-Wiseman 1
CAUSED FUMBLES: Issac Blakeney 1
INTERCEPTIONS: Garrett Rider 1

 

Jacksonville (FL) safety Dwayne Norman is the 3rd member of Duke's class of 2012

Florida safety Dwayne Norman likes Duke and South Carolina

Jacksonville (FL) safety Dwayne Norman likes Duke and South Carolina

While Duke is working hard to improve their defense on the field this spring, the coaching staff is also working hard to upgrade the defense with a talented group of prospects in the class of 2012. The Duke staff has targeted a small group of defensive backs who already have received verbal scholarship offers from the Blue Devils, and a few have also taken a visit to Durham this spring. One of the most recent prospects to visit Durham and pick up a verbal scholarship offer is Dwayne Norman, a 6’0” 185 pound prospect from Jacksonville, Florida. The Blue Devils were the first to offer the speedy junior from University Christian, but other ACC and SEC programs have expressed interest. Highlights from his junior season can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

My strengths would be pursuing the ball, definitely that.  And I guess being a heavy hitter, when I get there – I hit angry, I guess.  That’s what coaches call it.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

My coverage skills right now.  I’m coming up as a defensive back and I guess my speed and quickness.

BDN: What are some of your goals for yourself and your team in your senior season?

My goals for my team will be to win a state championship this year, definitely in the running to do that.  Also to stay on top of things my senior year, trying to do a repeat or even get better than what I did last year.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

Me feeling at home once I go there, me feeling comfortable around the coaches and the players.  And really where the sports program is headed also in the next few years.  And academics plays a role also in what’s going on when I go there.

BDN: You mentioned the importance of academics; do you have a specific field you are thinking of studying in college?

Yes, I want to study business management and maybe sports medicine.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest, or have been hearing the most from?

Duke. I’ve been communicating with them the most.  I started talking with them I think September 1st – September 1st or September 2nd.  And I’ve been on visits up there twice.  And then South Carolina is the next school that’s been recruiting me a lot.  And USF and Georgia Tech have just – they just started recently and that’s coming along good.

BDN: You mentioned you were able to visit Duke a couple times. How have those visits gone and what other schools have you had a chance to visit so far?

Yeah, my visits at Duke went real good.  They opened my eyes to a lot of things about a future after football and all the – of course during football, but I liked both my visits up there.  And I visited South Carolina twice.  I went on their junior day and I went to a game.  I really like the program up there, I really like the football program and the coaches.

BDN: Do you have plans for any additional visits this spring or summer?

Yes, I just got back from a visit from Duke this past weekend.  I went to a spring practice, and I think in two weeks I’m going up to South Carolina to a spring practice to see what’s going on there.

BDN: Do you have an idea for how or when you would like to narrow your list of schools down and ultimately make a decision?

Yes, I’m going to – I plan on committing on my birthday this year, September 23rd.  Yeah, that’s – I think it’s on a Friday this year.  I haven’t decided but I think I want to do it like before a game or after a game, I don’t know yet.  That’s when I want to make my decision.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

I’m a good kid off the field.  I won’t get into any trouble or bring any bad name to the schools I’m at.  If anything, it will be good things.  I don’t get in trouble a lot or too much.  Just say that.  And that’s about it.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Dwayne, and best of luck to you.

Okay, well thank you for the interview.

 

DT Korren Kirven has a busy summer planned

Lynchburg (VA) DT Korren Kirven is impressed with Duke and Virginia schools

DT Korren Kirven said that UVA, Virginia Tech, and Duke have stood out recently

While Duke is working hard to improve their defense on the field this spring, the coaching staff is also working hard to upgrade the defense with a talented group of prospects in the class of 2012. Under new defensive line coach Rick Petri, several prospects already have received verbal scholarship offers from the Blue Devils, and many have also taken a visit to Durham this spring. One of the most recent linemen to visit Durham and pick up a verbal scholarship offer is Korren Kirven, a 6’5” 275 pound prospect from Lynchburg, Virginia. After his standout junior season at Brookville, Korren has picked up over a dozen verbal scholarship offers this spring from programs throughout the ACC and SEC. The athletic lineman recently made the trip to Durham to learn more about the Duke program and came away with a good impression.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

Well, my strengths – probably my strengths are speed and technique and agility and footwork and stuff like that.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

My strength, speed, agility and stuff.  Stuff like that.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

Academics is first.  Good football program, good team that likes to win.  Coach experience, they know what they’re doing, and coach relationships and stuff like that.  Relationships with players and coaches and with recruits and stuff.

BDN: You mentioned the importance of academics; do you have a specific field you are thinking of studying in college?

It’s probably going to be something dealing with art.  I’m not sure what the actual major is going to be yet, but yeah.  Art.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest, or have been hearing the most from?

Virginia, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Florida – well actually basically all the schools that have offered.  Yeah, basically every school that has offered me.

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools so far?

Yeah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, and I went to UNC this past summer.  I’m going to Tennessee next week, and then NC State.  I’m supposed to be going down to Florida on the 9th of April.  Penn State is probably going to be the week after that, so – and yeah, every weekend I’m probably going to go to a school.

BDN: Are there any schools that you feel like you’ve developed a good relationship with at this point in the process?

Yeah, the two Virginia schools have. Duke – their whole academic thing down there is really good.  I went down there yesterday, and that was really good, it was a good visit and stuff.  I haven’t really visited any other schools that actually have stood out yet but everybody is about equal right now, so I don’t really have any favorites right now.

BDN: Do you have an idea for how or when you would like to narrow your list of schools down and ultimately make a decision?

Yeah, not sure yet but yeah, we’re going to visit pretty much every school so we’ll probably narrow it down from that by December.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

Yeah, I’m a big fan of arts and stuff.  I play the saxophone and different stuff like that too.  I’m a real good artist and stuff, too, so.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Korren, and best of luck to you.

Okay, alright man, thanks.

 

Duke will hold its annual spring game Saturday at 3PM in Wallace Wade Stadium

Football Friday looks at Duke’s spring game

Duke will hold its annual spring game Saturday at 3PM in Wallace Wade Stadium

Duke Football will hold its annual spring game this Saturday at 3 PM in Wallace Wade Stadium. The event is free to the public and offers fans a chance to get a first look at the 2011 Blue Devils. Duke men’s lacrosse will host Georgetown at 1 PM in Koskinen stadium, so be sure to come out and support Duke athletics on what should be a fun Saturday in Durham!

 

Rejoice, Blue Devil fans! Football Friday is here. Ok, today is not a day for rejoicing. But let’s at least talk some football to take our minds off the…disappointment. And after today’s day of mourning, maybe you can put that bottle down and head out to Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday afternoon to check out the 2011 Blue Devils? Think you could do that for me, sport? Sure, why not!

Well, if you do go, and I truly hope you will, here are five questions to think about as you watch the spring game in Wallace Wade on Saturday:

1. Can the Duke defensive line slow down the run?

I’m sure most have already determined that I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to Duke football. That being said, I have no delusions of Duke having a dominant defense in 2011. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and for a squad that finished 2010 ranking113th out of 120 FBS programs against the run, Duke has a long way to go. In 2009, the Blue Devils ranked 74th against the run, and I’m hoping that with the addition of Rick Petri and a group of young and athletic linemen, Duke moves back in that direction. The defensive line should benefit from going up against a pretty good and healthy Duke offensive line, so this is definitely a matchup to watch on Saturday.

2. Can the Duke defensive line pressure the quarterback?

I promise, all the questions won’t be about the defensive line – just most of them. In addition to struggling against the run in 2010, Duke finished 108th in pass efficiency defense, 113th in sacks, and 109th in tackles for a loss. These are not numbers we want to show potential donors when pitching the Wallace Wade upgrades. There is no question that there was room for improvement in the Duke secondary last year as well, but in general, opposing quarterbacks were way too comfortable throwing against the Blue Devils. The good news is that Rick Petri comes from a Miami defense that led the country in tackles for loss, so he may have a few tricks to help Duke find their way into the backfield. We’ll also have to see if new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has any new ideas for how to bring pressure from Duke’s linebackers and safeties.

3. Have Sean Renfree and the Duke offense taken a step forward this spring, especially in terms of taking care of the football?

In an earlier edition of Football Friday, I mentioned the key to 2011 success likely lies in the ability of the offense to take care of the football. The 2010 Blue Devils were turnover machines, finishing last in the ACC and 112th in the country in turnover margin. With a full year of starting experience under his belt, the hope is that Sean Renfree and his receivers will be able to eliminate many of their mistakes from a season ago. Of course, in the spring game, this is difficult to evaluate. If the offense takes care of the ball, is that because the defense didn’t apply pressure (see question 2)? These are things that the coaching staff, and fans, should keep a close eye on Saturday.

4. Will Duke be able to consistently run the ball behind a stronger, deeper offensive line?

If you’ve followed some of Duke’s spring practice reports, you might think that Duke has a stable of Heisman-caliber running backs, along with dual-threat QB Brandon Connette. Early in spring practice, many of Duke’s young defensive linemen were still getting their feet wet, and the defense as a whole was adapting to a new coordinator. By the spring game, many of those kinks should be worked out for the defense, and it should be a good matchup in the trenches. Duke’s running backs have been a little beat up this spring, but those who have played, have played fairly well. A consistent rushing attack will alleviate some of the pressure on Duke’s passing game and even the defense.

5. Who will step up and be the leaders of this year’s Blue Devils?

I debated whether to talk about leadership or surprise players in this last question, and I think leadership is more important. Some of the surprise players may not even be on campus yet, but this year’s leaders have to be. If Duke wants any chance of a bowl game in 2011, they will need a group of strong, vocal leaders on both sides of the ball. With a year of starting experience, I expect Sean Renfree to take control of the Blue Devil offense, aided by a group of upperclassmen at running back (Jay Hollingsworth and Desmond Scott), receiver (Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon), and the offensive line (Kyle Hill and Brian Moore). Defensively, leadership is much more of a question mark. Charlie Hatcher is a warrior and the lone senior along the defensive line, while seniors Matt Daniels and Lee Butler (who has missed all of spring practice) should anchor the secondary. Outside of those three players, Duke lacks significant game experience on defense, which means that players like sophomore Kelby Brown and junior Jordon Byas may have to assume leadership roles. On Saturday, keep an eye on the sidelines and in the huddle to see which players are ready to step up and lead this young Blue Devil team.