Jake Kite will be a force in the Duke secondary.

Duke remains hot on the recruiting trail, adds a commitment from hard-hitting Virginia S Jake Kite

Duke gained a commitment from hard-hitting safety Jake Kite over the weekend

The Blue Devils are officially on a roll in the class of 2013, picking up their 4th commitment over the past two weeks in safety Jake Kite. Kite is a 6’1″ 180 pound hard-hitter out of Roanoke, Virginia. The Blue Devils beat out in-state ACC rival NC State for Jake, the son of Chris Kite, a former UVA defensive back. Duke was the first school to extend a scholarship offer and made a strong impression on a visit earlier this spring. Kite was on hand for Duke’s Spring Game this weekend, and decided to make his pledge to Coach Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils. After his junior season at Hidden Valley HS in which he totaled 149 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 5 interceptions, Kite was named Regional Player of the Year and 1st Team All-State. He runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash and the Blue Devils hope he’ll become a star in Coach Knowles 4-2-5 defense.

 

BDN Photo

Coach Cutcliffe addresses the media before Duke Spring Game

BDN Photo

Here are three videos from today’s Duke Football press conference as Spring Football winds down in Durham. The annual Spring Football Game is tomorrow at 1:00 in Wallace Wade Stadium and it is open and free to the general public. Coach Cutcliffe is up first, the next vids are of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.


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Rasheed Sulaimon talks of his McDonald’s All American game experience

The Duke Blue Devils fan base is excited about Rasheed Sulaimon coming to Duke this coming season and he is excited as well.  BDN Premium caught up to Sulaimon yesterday, hot off his 18 point performance where he keyed the West squad to a win in the famed McDonald’s All American game.  Sulaimon, of course, won the three point shooting contest as well.  We discussed a myriad of subjects which included his play and the staff and fans reaction to his play and what he will work on now that he is back home.  Sulaimon touches on recruiting where Duke is in hot pursuit of Amile Jefferson, Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker and his relationship with them.  He also talks of getting a challenge from Duke assistant coach Chris Collins after he won the three point shooting contest and what Coach K has him working on in another in depth interview from BDN.

Congratulations on winning the three point shot contest at the McDonald’s All American Game, that was awesome. What are your thought and what was going through your mind as you were competing?

I was nervous to begin with but once the buzzer rang I just started to focus and found a rhythm and kept shooting and they were just going in. After the first round I knew there was a really good chance I could win it and my confidence was high and I felt like I was the best shooter going into the competition.

Your family had to be really happy for you. What was their reaction?

My parents were very excited that I won and that my hard work payed off.

Have you been able to talk with any of the Duke coaches since that happened? Did anybody like text you and say congratulations or that kind of thing?

Yes, yes. I talked with all the coaches and they [private]  just told me congratulations and Coach Collins sent me a text message talking a little trash because he was the first Duke guy to win the contest. So, he congratulated me, but he said I still had a ways to go before I could reach him.

He does talk a little smack, I’ll tell you he’s still got a nice outside shot. The coaches will go at it with the managers and walk ons during the season. You’ll see that they get out there and ball. But you represented Duke well and then there is the McDonald’s game itself where you scored 18 points, knocked down four treys. What was it like to play against the best of the best?

You know, it was just a great day having the elite talent in the nation come there and compete and it was very special. And then there was Chicago and the arena itself where Michael Jordan use to play and such a big crowd. It was kind of nerve racking at first, but like I said after I started to get in the flow and everything like that, I just got back in the flow and played basketball.

It looks like you had all kinds of fun, participating in the Duke-UNC-NCSU smack down and all kinds of things. Which guys did you kind of hit it off with out there?

I hit it off with a lot of guys and I knew almost everybody that was there, But a couple of the guys I kind of really hit it off with was me, Shabazz (Muhammad) and Amile Jefferson, we were all pretty cool. And Kyle Anderson and Yogi Ferrell as well, so I had a good relationship with a lot of guys on the team just to name a few.

I have to ask this, Duke is hotly pursuing Amile Jefferson and Shabazz Muhammad. I’m assuming per our past conversations that you were in their ear a little bit.

Oh yes, of course. I was in their ear constantly in that we (Duke) are recruiting both of them. I’m trying to get them to come to Durham with me next year and I think we have a good chance if we keep recruiting them hard and stay on their tails, then I think we’ve got a good chance to get both.

It looks like it will come down to the last minute as there is a lot of transition going on, Duke is worried about losing Mason Plumlee, so a lot is going on. What about Tony Parker? Was there anything going on there?

Oh yeah. I talked with Tony a little bit and I told him or got in his ear a little bit but I think he is still reviewing the schools that is left. I’m not too sure where he’s at with his decision making, but he still says Duke is in it.

That’s interesting. So what do you do now that you are back home after being in all the hullabaloo of the All American event? Where does Rasheed go from here?

Back to the gym. I have to go get better, get stronger and get faster and work on parts of my game and just get ready for the Nike Hoops Summit and the Jordan-Brand Classic and then getting ready for Durham.

You’ll be in around July 1st or so?

Yes sir.

Obviously what you have been working on has been good for you are putting the ball on the floor better, your perimeter game is tight. Have the coaches told you to work on any particular thing? Your game is really coming together.

Thank you (with humbled emphasis)

Oh, you’re welcome. Everybody that saw the game and objective media thought you were one of the three best players in the game and there is a lot of talk of you. So, it has to feel good to get the compliments.

Yes sir. Some of the things the coaches want me to work on are key in on just staying in the gym everyday and get better polishing my skill set and everything like that. A couple of things they really focused on though, was for me to continue to get stronger each and every day and continue to tighten my ball handling in that I will need it next year. I have a good handle now but it wouldn’t hurt to make it better and become quicker and faster.

Have they talked to you at all about possibly testing you at the PG position?

Yes, they have. We’ve talked about possibilities of me playing the PG in certain situations and the off guard. It looks like I will be used in a combo of both this coming season.

You move your feet really well. Therefore you have the chance to become a really good on ball defender, the kind they really didn’t have at Duke last year. Is this something they have spoken to you about as well?

Oh yeah. Definitely, definably. I have always taken pride in my defense and want to take the best perimeter player on that end but they challenged me with the expectation of me coming in and playing great defense and I’m ready for that challenge. I’m going to step up and do whatever I can and play as hard as I can to meet Coach K’s challenges.

Do you still converse back and forth with some of the players on the team?

Oh yeah. I keep in touch with a lot of them, like Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton. Josh Hairston and Alex Murphy. I keep in touch with a number of players on the team and I have good chemistry with them.

That’s great! You’ve been blessed.

Yes sir. I can’t complain about anything, I’ve been blessed my whole life.

That’s great. Everything is coming full circle for you. Coach K saw something in you and offered early on and you have continued to improve and climb the rankings since that time. The Duke fan base is very excited about you coming to Durham and our message boards are buzzing and blowing up with how giddy fans are.

Thank you so much, I appreciate the call and interview.

Best of luck the rest of the summer and you’re welcome, Rasheed.

Have a good one! [/private]

Duke-football

BDN Football Friday: Spring Game Preview

 

Coach Cutcliffe and the team will kickoff the festivities with the Blue Devil Walk at 11AM Saturday- BDN Photo

Are you ready for some football, Blue Devil Nation? Saturday afternoon will be your last chance until September 1st to see some Duke Football, so get your fill. The Blue Devils will take to the field on Saturday at 1PM in Wallace Wade Stadium for their annual spring game. BDN’s Football Friday is here for your preview.

 

Logistics

First of all, highs in the upper 70s, with a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms. Should be a perfect spring day for some football if the rains miss the Methodist Flats. That also means a perfect day for some tailgating. Get there early, as the team will conduct the Blue Devil Walk at 11:00 AM. Team BDN will be there in full force, so be sure to say hi. Here’s the information on the parking situation. Bring your wallets, even though admission is free (stadium gates open at 11:15), as there will be plenty of opportunities to get your Blue Devil gear, as well as stuff your face with Chick-fil-a, Domino’s, and Blue Devil Concessions. Oh, and the most important reason to bring your wallet is to purchase your 2012 season tickets. Ticket office reps will be on hand and help you pick your exact seats. Try before you buy. The game kicks off at 1PM and Coach Cutcliffe will address the crowd during halftime of the scrimmage. Spring practice awards will also be announced at halftime.

TE Issac Blakeney has had a big spring for the Blue Devils

Scouting the Blue Devil Offense

The Duke offense will feature a number of familiar faces, but it’s likely to be the unfamiliar ones who will make an impression on Saturday. We all know what Conner Vernon is capable of at wide receiver, but as he’s been limited due to injury this spring, expect to see a lot of Blair Holliday and Jamison Crowder, both of whom have had very strong spring performances. Nick Hill is another young face who appears ready to contribute, and Corey Gattis and Tyree Watkins add a veteran presence to the receiving corps. With Jack Farrell and Braxton Deaver sidelined with injuries, the Blue Devils had concerns at wide receiver heading into spring practice. Coming out of spring practice, tight end is no longer a concern, and you’ll likely see why as Issac Blakeney and David Reeves are sure to impress.

Up front, the Duke offensive line returns all but graduating senior Kyle Hill, and that continuity should benefit the Blue Devil offense. This group has improved each year under Coach Cutcliffe, and they’re looking to take a big step forward this fall under new OL Coach John Latina. Expect to see a few holes opened for the likes of the now healthy Josh Snead and last year’s leading rusher Juwan Thompson, who have seen the majority of carries with senior Desmond Scott nursing injury. If that trio isn’t impressive enough for you, the Blue Devils will add two more big-time running backs in just a few months, as Jela Duncan and Shaquille Powell will push for early playing time.

Am I forgetting something? Ah, yes, quarterback. While Peyton Manning had been a fixture in the Duke practice facilities this offseason, he will not be taking snaps under center for the Blue Devils on Saturday. Sean Renfree remains entrenched as the starter, and he’s had yet another good spring running the Duke offense. While much of spring practice is situational, Renfree has shown the ability to get the ball downfield, averaging 15.7 yards per completion in the last scrimmage. But Renfree’s old news, right? Coach Cutcliffe and the Duke staff have been looking at ways to get guys like Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone more involved in the offense, and they’ve done well with running the ball and catching the ball in some unique schemes. But don’t get too excited. Knowing the Duke coaching staff, the Blue Devils are unlikely to show off anything particularly new or exciting on Saturday, so we’ll all just have to wait until the fall. Expect to see Connette, Boone, and freshman Thomas Sirk take several snaps under center in relief of Renfree; all have taken big steps forward in their command of the offense this spring.

Ross Cockrell has developed into a shutdown corner for the Blue Devils

Scouting the Blue Devil Defense

Somehow, it seems that Duke has had a perpetually young defense the past few years, and that remain the case this spring, though they are overall more experienced. The losses of Matt Daniels and Charlie Hatcher will be the biggest voids to fill, and there are a number of candidates looking to contribute. Up front, Duke will be without their top pass-rushers Saturday in Kenny Anunike and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, but will feature much of the same group of athletic ends we saw a year ago, led by Justin Foxx, Dezmond Johnson, and Jamal Wallace. Sydney Sarmiento, Jamal Bruce, and Nick Sink are likely to see the majority of time on the inside up front. The defensive line continues to improve under Coach Petri and has the benefit of going up against a big and experienced offensive line in practice.

At linebacker, the Blue Devils will be without Kelby Brown for the foreseeable future, but expect sophomore David Helton to continue to impress. The redshirt is off for Kelby’s younger, but bigger, brother Kyler, and it appears that a nose for the football is in their genes. Austin Gamble is the lone upperclassman, though sophomores C.J. France and Jon Woodruff have some experience. And before you get down on the Blue Devil linebackers, keep in mind that stud recruits Keilin Rayner and Deion Williams will be on campus in just a few months.

Coach Knowles’ 4-2-5 scheme relies heavily on the secondary, and the emergence of Ross Cockrell as a shutdown corner is key. He’ll be joined by senior Lee Butler at cornerback, though youngsters Jared Boyd and Tim Burton will see time. The leader of the secondary this year is most likely to be leading returning tackler Walt Canty, though hard-hitting Jordon Byas has also turned some heads with August Campbell sidelined this spring. Newcomers to look for at safety include the hard-working Chris Tavarez, Britton Grier, transfer Jeremy Cash, and former WR Brandon Braxton. All should see snaps on Saturday and overall, this group has some of the best playmakers on the defensive side.

Scouting the Blue Devil Special Teams

Will Monday. That’s about all you need to know. With Will Snyderwine and Alex King now graduated, Monday has handled all of the punting and kicking duties this spring, and handled them well. By the fall, incoming freshman Ross Martin may challenge him for the placekicking duties, but expect to see Monday handle the punting for the next four years in Durham. On the return side, Jamison Crowder remains the Blue Devils’ top threat, but he’ll be joined by incoming freshman DeVon Edwards this fall, who took more than a few kicks to the house during his high school career. In all likelihood, getting to see Monday punt and kick should be a refreshing sight for Blue Devil fans and the only real highlight on special teams Saturday.

Recruiting still sizzling

Who are all those people with lanyards and nametags? That would be the dozens of high school prospects and their families who will be on campus this weekend to take in the Blue Devil program. Several members of the Duke class of 2012 will be on hand Saturday, and they’ll be joined by a huge group of future prospects. With 3 commitments already on board in 2013, the coaching staff is flying high on the trail and will have in some of their top targets in this class, including a handful considered among the nation’s elite. Coach Cutcliffe and his staff work on recruiting every single day, and this weekend will be no exception. And just like the staff, we follow the recruiting trail here at BDN, so be sure to check out some of our recent interviews with the likes of TE Nathan Marcus, and OL Sterling Korona, and of course lots more to come. Don’t be surprised if the Blue Devils hear more good news by the end of this weekend.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, Blue Devil Nation is the place to be for Duke Football fans. We cover the team year-round, and would love to have you join our growing BDN Premium community. We can’t wait to see you all in Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday. WE ARE DUKE.

Duke would love to add top pass-rusher Jaylen Miller to their class of 2013

Gaffney DE Jaylen Miller plans to hit the road this summer

Duke would love to add top pass-rusher Jaylen Miller to their class of 2013

Duke is looking to build their defensive line on the recruiting trail, and have targeted a number of top prospects across the country. One of the first prospects to receive a scholarship offer from the Blue Devils is DE Jaylen Miller, a 6’2″ 263 pound prospect from Gaffney, South Carolina. One of the top pass-rushers in the class of 2013, Miller is attracting interest from a number of ACC and SEC schools, and plans to hit the road hard this summer to evaluate his many suitors. BDN caught up with Jaylen earlier this week to get an update on his offseason and his recruitment. [private]

BDN: How would you describe your strengths as a player?

I would say some of my strengths are pass-rushing. My pass-rushing has to be the best strength that I do have, and my quickness.

BDN: What are you working on this offseason as you prepare for your senior year?

For my senior year, I’ve got to work on my motor. I’ve got to stay 100% every play, that’s a problem that I’ve been having. I can’t take any plays off. My senior year, I want to have no regrets. My senior year, I want to be able to say I left it all out on the field.

BDN: As you approach your college decision, what are the most important things you are looking for in a school?

The most important thing I would say is the feeling I get. I mean, the education and everything, the football program, but the feeling I get, the atmosphere about the school. That’s somewhere I’ve got to spend four years of my life, in college, so I’ve got to be comfortable going there for four years, so the feeling that I get when I go to the school, the campus, the people, and everything around it, that will play a major role in it.

BDN: Where do you stand with offers and interest from schools now?

I’ve been in contact with plenty of schools, but I’ve got offers from Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, and I got one from Florida just yesterday. I think some schools locally around here have offered me, I have one from Alabama State, I have one from Wofford and Furman.

BDN: Which schools are you planning to visit this spring or summer?

This summer I’m going to visit as many schools as possible, just to make sure I get the right idea about the school. That’s basically my plan for the summer, to make sure I get the right idea about the school. I don’t want to misjudge a school or anything like that. I’m going to try and get to some camps also this summer.

BDN: It’s still early in the process, but are there any schools that have stood out to you at this point, either on a visit or your relationship with the coaching staff?

I’ve been to Clemson a few times, like Junior Day. I went to South Carolina’s Junior Day and North Carolina’s Junior Day. I know most of the coaches pretty well, except for [South] Carolina, I don’t know their coaches very well. As far as Clemson, I know the coaches very well and North Carolina, I know the coaches pretty well.

BDN: Do you have a timeline in mind for when you plan to narrow things down or make your final decision?

Right after the end of my senior football season, I don’t know if I’m going to narrow it down then, or what. It all depends on who offers and the feeling that I get. They say you’ll know what school is best for you when the time comes.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jaylen, and best of luck.

Okay, I appreciate it.

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Duke and Wake Forest made a strong impression on Glenbard West TE Nathan Marcus

Duke makes a strong impression on Illinois TE Nathan Marcus

Duke and Wake Forest made a strong impression on Glenbard West TE Nathan Marcus

The Blue Devils have had a lot of success throwing the ball under Coach Cutcliffe and his spread offense over the past few seasons, including at the tight end position. With the graduation of Cooper Helfet, Duke hopes that their young tight ends Issac Blakeney and David Reeves will be able to help fill the void this fall, but the coaching staff continues to look towards the future on the recruiting trail.

One tight end prospect has recently caught the attention of the Blue Devil coaches, and was extended a verbal scholarship offer on a visit to Durham last weekend. Nathan Marcus is a 6’5″ 220 pound tight end from Glen Ellyn, Illinois. After leading Glenbard West to a 10-1 record as a junior and receiving All-Conference and Academic All-State honors, Marcus has seen his recruitment take off this spring, collecting scholarship offers from Boston College, Duke, Indiana, Northwestern, Toledo, and Wake Forest, along with interest from several other schools, including Illinois and Vanderbilt. The Blue Devils hosted Marcus on an unofficial visit this past weekend, and hope he’ll become the next big pass-catching tight end in their spread offense. [private]

BDN: How would you describe your strengths as a player?

I’m mostly a wide receiver-type tight end. I like to get out in space and catch the ball, but I’ve also been used as a tackle for the youth football team, so I’m comfortable on the line and split out.

BDN: What are you working on this offseason and what do you hope to accomplish this fall?

Winning a state title, obviously. But personally, I’d like to see the ball more in the air and catch it and work on my blocking, trying to become a more well-rounded tight end.

BDN: As you approach your college decision, what are the most important things you are looking for in a school?

Definitely being able to compete football-wise, and then off the field, academically, because once the football ends, I’d like to be able to have a good job and have a degree from a very good school.

BDN: Which schools have you been hearing the most from and where do you stand with offers?

Who has been contacting me most would be like Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Illinois, those are like the main three, and also Boston College. Now, once I’ve visited Duke and Wake Forest, they’ve both offered me and I’m pretty liked with them too.

BDN: Which schools have you had a chance to visit?

I went to Duke and Wake Forest and now I’m at Vanderbilt right now. I really liked both Duke and Wake [Forest], they’re pretty similar. I’m not really sure if I’m going to see any more [schools], because they’re both pretty high up there and I’m probably going to make my decision sometime soon, maybe late summer or early fall, I’ll decide what school I’m going to commit to.

BDN: What was it that stood out to you about Duke and Wake Forest?

They’re both pretty high-powered offensive programs, so you’ve got to like that as a tight end, and they both pass the ball pretty well, so you’ve got to like that as a tight end that likes to catch the ball. I really liked their academics, and it’s kind of good to get away from Chicago and the snowy weather.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Nathan, and best of luck.

Thank you, it was nice meeting you.

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