Ryan Smith is Duke's 5th commitment at WR in 2013.

Bishop Gorman WR Ryan Smith commits to Duke

Ryan Smith is Duke's 5th commitment at WR in 2013.
Ryan Smith is Duke’s 5th commitment at WR in 2013.

In 2013, the Blue Devils will have to replace the production of the ACC’s all-time receptions leader in Conner Vernon, along with fellow graduating senior Desmond Scott. With only a handful of experienced receivers returning, the Duke staff is hoping to add playmakers in the class of 2013 with the ability to contribute early. To date, the Blue Devils have received verbal commitments from 4 receivers in Terrence Alls, Johnell Barnes, Quay Chambers, and T.J. Douglas. On Wednesday, they received their 5th receiver commitment from speedy Bishop Gorman star Ryan Smith. At 5’7″ and 160 pounds, Smith is a threat with his impressive speed. As a senior, Smith averaged over 20 yards per catch, and caught 14 touchdowns. He committed to New Mexico, where his father served as running backs coach, back in December, but opened things up recently when Coach Lubick contacted him. An official visit last weekend sold Smith on the Blue Devils, and he informed the staff of his decision on Wednesday.  BDN caught up with Ryan just before his visit to Duke. Smith is the 20th commitment in the class of 2013, and with signing day 2 weeks away, the Blue Devils likely have just 1 scholarship remaining.

Highlights

Preview: Duke vs. Miami

HurricaneAs regular season games go, this is a pretty big one.  Having played just twice in the last two weeks, and not at all in the last six days since their less-than-artistic win over Georgia Tech, the top-ranked Blue Devils head down to Coral Gables to face conference leader Miami on Wednesday night at 7 PM.  The Canes, 13-3 overall and 4-0 in conference, have joined the national rankings this week, coming in at #25.  It’s their first time being ranked since January of 2010.  With a win, Duke will tie Miami at 4-1 in the conference, with the re-match to be held in March in Durham.  A Canes victory, however, would provide them a two-game cushion with one win over Duke in hand.

Historically speaking, this series has been all Duke, as the Devils have won 15 of the 18 matchups.  Even when UM has been ranked when playing Duke, which has occurred three times, they’ve lost each time.  The last was in 2009.  Since Miami brought back its basketball program after a long hiatus, the teams have faced each other 16 times when Duke was ranked.  Duke has won 14 of those, but one of the two UM wins was last season, in Cameron.

But Miami has never beaten a team ranked #1 in the nation.  They’ve faced Duke twice when the Blue Devils were the nation’s top-ranked squad.  In 1988 Duke won by the preposterous score of 117-102.  Oh yeah, Danny Ferry happened to toss in 58 points in that one.  In 2011 the #1 Devils prevailed 74-63, led by Nolan Smith’s 28.

As alluded to above, however, the Hurricanes beat the Blue Devils in overtime in their last meeting, last February, in Cameron no less.  It was a strange game.  Coach K started Josh Hairston and Ty Thornton, along with Andre Dawkins, Austin Rivers, and Mason Plumlee.  Seth Curry came off the bench to light Miami up with 22 points, while Rivers had 20.  Mason  had 13 boards, 6 points, and 4 turnovers.  Quinn Cook, Ryan Kelly, and Miles Plumlee all got at least 24 minutes off the bench too.

It was a game in which Miami took a 16 point second half lead only to see the Blue Devils fight back, and it was nip and tuck over the last several minutes.  Two factors tipped the balance in Miami’s favor:  Duke had no answer for UM big (and I mean big) man Reggie Johnson, who finished with 27 points and 12 boards.  And in the overtime, Duke missed six straight free throws.  That left some jawbones on the floor.

But Miami deserved to win.  They outrebounded Duke; they outscored the Devils 38-26 in the paint, and held Duke to a season-low 38% from the field.  Miami 4-man Kenny Kadji burned the Devils, hitting 4 of 5 from three-point range en route to 15 points in support of Johnson. Freshman point guard Shane Larkin (son of Barry) was not at all intimidated by Duke or Cameron, and was a steadying influence throughout.  Kid was impressive.

sebastian ibisBut this is a new year.  It’s Miami’s second season under coach Jim Larranaga (there’s supposed to be one of those little squigglies over the n — it should be pronounced Lar-anya-ga, like the cigar) since he arrived from George Mason after 14 years in Fairfax.  He led GMU to five NCAA tournaments, and took them to the 2006 Final Four.  Which means he’s the only ACC coach other than K and Roy to take a team to the Final Four.   Larranaga won 20 games in his first year in Coral Gables, including nine ACC wins, which Miami had never achieved before.  Not bad for the first year, huh?

Didn’t I say I was going to discuss this year though?  OK, this year.  Like I said, Miami is 13-3 overall, 4-0 in the conference.  They’re 7-0 at home.  The Canes’ out of conference schedule seems kind of lukewarm, rated #65 in the country, but that’s actually one of the best of the top teams, as only two teams rated above Miami in KenPom’s overall ratings have faced tougher out of conference schedules — Duke and Gonzaga.

Miami’s best win was their ACC-Big 10 challenge victory over Michigan State, an eight point win at home.  That was solid.  The other wins were over Stetson, Jacksonville, Detroit, UMass, Charlotte, Central Florida, Hawaii, and LaSalle.  Not exactly murderer’s row, but at least all of those, other than the opener against Stetson, were double digit wins.  Nonconference defeats included an inexplicable 12 point loss to Florida Gulf Coast (Duke beat the Eagles by 21 five days later), a 19 point trouncing by Arizona, and an overtime loss to Indiana State on Christmas Day.  The latter two occurred in a Christmas tournament in Hawaii, and the Canes were by all accounts exhausted.

The four ACC wins have come over Georgia Tech on the road by 13, again on the road at UNC by 9, at home against Maryland by 7, and then last Wednesday’s one pointer at BC.  Three of the four on the road.   OK, not bad.

The Canes currently are #19 in the KenPom overall ratings.  And this is all without Reggie Johnson, who fractured a thumb in Hawaii on December 21 and isn’t expected back until late February or maybe even early March.

This is a veteran team.   With Johnson out, Larranaga has been largely playing six guys, and four of them are seniors.  (Johnson is a senior too.)  Shooting guard Durand Scott leads the team in scoring at 13.8 ppg.  The 6’5″ 203 pounder out of the Bronx is a streaky shooter and a streaky player, but one way or another he gets double digits points just about every night out.  And he is nothing if not tough.  He is a physical player, one who could make life uncomfortable for Seth Curry and/or Rasheed Sulaimon — at both ends.  The guy everyone seems to be most concerned about, though, is senior forward Kenny Kadji.  The 6’11” 242 pound Kadji, often described as a “stretch four”  (that term is starting to bug) is at 12.6 ppg and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game.  Kadji can affect a game in similar ways as can Ryan Kelly.  He can play inside if necessary, but what makes him very difficult to handle is that, at his size, he steps out and shoots the long ball very well.  Cue the 4-for-5 three-point shooting last year in Cameron.  Kadji has really improved over the course of his career at Miami, and is a guy that must be game-planned for.  Teams that do not make him a priority often regret that decision.  Kadji has improved his numbers since Johnson went down, too.  Since the injury to the big man, Kadji is scoring just shy of 15 ppg, and grabbing 7.8 boards, and is blocking almost two shots per game. He has bagged four double-doubles this year.

Senior Trey McKinney-Jones starts on the wing.  The 6’5″ 220 pounder averages just shy of 10 ppg, and four rebounds.  He likes to shoot the three, and is hitting them at about a 40% clip.  He hit five 3-balls in the big win over Michigan State.  With the injury to Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble, a 6’10” 250 lb senior out of Durham Southern, moved into the starting lineup.  Since doing so, the big guy is scoring almost 9 ppg and is getting 7.5 boards.  Prior to Johnson’s injury, he was at 4.3 and 1.8.  Dude has stepped up.  Just ask Carolina, who Gamble hit for 14 and 6, on 7 of 10 shooting, along with three blocks.

The only non-senior in the starting lineup is point guard Shane Larkin, now a soph.   The 5’11” 176 pounder was ACC-All Freshman last year, and as he now has a year and a half of experience under his belt, he’s operating with supreme confidence.  He’s scoring 12 per game, dishing four assists, shooting 45% from the field and 41% from 3-point land.  He’s pretty consistent too, scoring in double digits in 12 of Miami’s 16 games.  However, he has struggled with his shot in ACC play, thus far hitting only 36% in conference.  He’s a solid ballhandler, though, and he’s a kid who has the complete confidence and respect of his teammates.  He’ll have the ball in his hands a lot, even in crunch time, which is impressive for the only soph on a team full of seniors.

The primary sub for Miami at this time is Rion Brown.  The 6’6″ 220 pound junior logs 24 minutes per game and averages about 6 points, but he is capable of much more.  Georgia Tech learned that the hard way, as Brown nailed 22 in 23 minutes against the Jackets on 9 of 11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. 6’6″ Erik Swoope and 6’10” Nigerian Raphael Akpejiori see inconsistent minutes off the bench — ten or 12 one game, than none or one minute the next.

miami south beach at nightDespite having a number of offensive weapons, overall the Canes have not been a great offensive team this year.  They are only averaging 67 ppg and only shooting 44%, and only 34% from three.  Granted, their best interior player has missed half the season, and this has undoubtedly affected the quality of the looks the perimeter guys have gotten, but still, you’ve got to be playing pretty good defense to beat teams when you’re only scoring 67 ppg.

And they are.  The Canes have been very good defensively.  Of their 16 opponents, 12 have shot worse than 41% from the field.  Only two have shot better than 45%, and overall, Miami is holding opponents to 37% shooting, including 31% from 3-point land.  Only two teams have shot better than 45% against UM all year.  Teams are averaging short of 60 ppg against Miami; eleven of the 16 opponents have failed to reach 60.

But make no mistake about it.  The loss of Johnson has changed the way this Miami team plays.  Without Johnson in the middle, Kenny Kadji has to play more inside.  Sure, Gamble has played pretty well, but Kadji has to go inside more, and he’s less effective there than when he can freely roam the perimeter as he can do when Johnson is in the post.  Less mismatches for him down low too, as opposed to when he’s raining 3 pointers from the outside.  Sound kinda like somebody on Duke’s roster, currently out “indefinitely?”

In fact, the injuries to Kelly and Johnson really have mirror image effects on their respective teams.  Without Johnson, Kadji has to play more inside, limiting the impact of his shooting in many games, and forcing some of their less effective shooters to bomb away. Without Kelly to stretch the floor, teams are collapsing and doubling more often and more effectively on Mason Plumlee, limiting his ability to take over games.  Expect Larranaga to do the same, and to force Mason to either play through contact or to make quick, smart decisions out of the doubleteams.  If he hits Josh Hairston or Amile Jefferson with passes in the key, can those guys finish plays?  And what about the fact that Duke’s perimeter shooters will have less room to operate without Kelly to relieve pressure?  It’s an issue, one that is exacerbated when one of the opponent’s guards is a strong perimeter defender like Durand Scott.

So those are all issues.  But you know what?  I think the Blue Devils, even without Kelly, have a better team than Miami — Miami without Reggie Johnson in the middle.  Quinn Cook is moving his feet very well defensively and should be able to contain Larkin.  Scott is a tough cover for Seth Curry because of the disparity in size and strength, and may be tough for Rasheed Sulaimon too because of experience, but Scott is unlikely to go off and beat you on his own.  Kadji could, but I would expect Duke’s defense to really be focused on him, concentrating on denying him on the wing, staying with him when others drive so as to not allow kickouts to Kadji for open jumpers, and to try to force him to put the ball on the floor.

At the other end, Larkin is going to have to prove that he can contain Quinn Cook’s penetration.  I don’t know that he’s going to be real successful against Cook.  Remember, other than Austin Rivers, Duke didn’t have a penetrator last year.  Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of his slump against Georgia Tech.  Seth Curry is well-rested and has shown that he can get that jumpshot off even against tough defenders and even with just a little space to do so.  And his shooting has been excellent.  Mason Plumlee is going to be working against Miami’s backup center.  Sure, Gamble has played well, but he’s a guy that Mason should be able to put in some work against and draw some fouls.  That would be big trouble for Miami, because if Kadji has to come over and guard Mason, then he’s really going to be expending energy there that they’d rather have him spend on offense.

Miami is off to an excellent start this year, but I think they’re going to get a reality check on Wednesday night.  They’re good, but they’re not good enough to take a two game advantage over Duke for the ACC regular season crown, especially without Johnson.  They’re experienced, but so is Duke, even without Kelly, and I think that experience is going to help the Blue Devils approach this game with focus and intensity, motivating them to get off to a good start (for once) and send a message that Duke isn’t the #1 team in the nation for nothing.

 

 

Speedy athlete Kylen Towner is in town for an official visit today.

Speedy athlete Kylen Towner in town for his official visit to Duke

Speedy athlete Kylen Towner is in town for an official visit today.
Speedy athlete Kylen Towner is in town for an official visit today.

St. Paul’s Episcopal school in Mobile, Alabama, produces a number of BCS prospects annually. Recent alumni include Alabama safety Mark Barron and quarterback A.J. McCarron. Under Head Coach David Cutcliffe, an Alabama native, the Blue Devils have recruited the Heart of Dixie well, landing players such as Johnny Williams and David Reeves in recent years. In the class of 2014, Duke has already secured a commitment from one St. Paul’s star in LB Zavier Carmichael. With just two scholarships remaining in the class of 2013, the Blue Devils are hosting a speedy playmaker from St. Paul’s on an official visit this weekend. Kylen Towner is a 5’7″ 165 pound athlete with scholarship offers from Western Kentucky, Northern Illinois, UAB, and Memphis. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, having been clocked at 4.32 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and winning a state championship in track. Though he has played everywhere from cornerback to running back on the football field, the Blue Devil staff loves Towner’s speed at slot receiver and return. After a visit to Western Kentucky, the speedster will visit Duke on Sunday and Monday.

How did your senior season go?

This season, we went to the fourth round of the playoffs, we lost in the semifinals and that I had one interception and one touchdown in that game. Throughout the season, I don’t know all my stats, but I had 7 interceptions.

You’ve played all over the field in high school; what position are college coaches recruiting you to play?

Slot receiver, and kick return and punt return.

Where do you stand with scholarship offers so far?

I have offers from Western Kentucky, Northern Illinois, UAB, and Memphis.

Have you had a chance to take any visits, or do you have any scheduled?

I have only visited UAB so far. It went good. I have Western Kentucky Friday through Saturday, and then I am coming to Duke on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Can you talk about your relationship with the Duke coaching staff and what you know about their program?

Coach Middleton has been recruiting me from there, and I know it’s a great academic school and the football program has been improving lately.

Do you know when you want to make your decision, or will you wait until Signing Day?

I want to make a decision by next week.

 

Highlights

Safety Deondre Singleton committed to Duke on his official visit this weekend.

Safety Deondre Singleton is commitment #19 for Duke

Safety Deondre Singleton committed to Duke on his official visit this weekend.
Safety Deondre Singleton committed to Duke on his official visit this weekend.

The Blue Devils will lose a lot of talent and experience from their defensive backs next season, but will re-load in the class of 2013. On Sunday, Duke added their 8th defensive back commitment to the class in safety Deondre Singleton. Singleton is a 6’1″ 185 pound safety from Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He finished his senior season with 47 tackles, 14 pass break-ups, 2 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles. With over a dozen scholarship offers, he was in high demand, but chose the Blue Devils over other finalists in Appalachian State and Penn State. An official visit to Durham this weekend sealed the deal for the talented safety, and he informed the Duke coaching staff of his decision on Sunday morning. Singleton is the 19th commitment in the class of 2013, and the Blue Devils likely have just 2 scholarships remaining in this class, with Signing Day quickly approaching on February 6.

BDN caught up with Deondre prior to his official visit, and it was clear that the Blue Devils had made a strong impression on the star student-athlete. Stay tuned for more from the newest Blue Devil.

Senior highlights

Duke offers Kevon Looney

Blue Devil Nation Premium has learned that Duke has offered a schlorship to Kevon Looney.  When you’re a versatile and skilled 6’8″, your highly respected five-time state title winning coach says that — as a rising junior — you’re the best player he’s ever coached, including NBA players Rodney Buford and Carl and Marcus Landry, college programs will take notice. When you add in a 3.6 cumulative GPA and the reputation of being a high character player, schools from around the country from Stanford to Duke will start to pay even closer attention. So it’s no surprise that Kevon Looney, a player who fits such a description, has seen his recruitment and rankings take off over the past few months.

Partially out of necessity, Looney was thrust into a starting role as a freshman for Coach Tom Diener, a thirty year veteran, and the Hamilton Wildcats of Milwaukee. He took like a fish to water, averaging a near double-double and earning second-team All-City honors. Despite being severely undermanned (the starting five played the vast majority of the minutes and included three freshmen), the Wildcats enjoyed a miraculous run to the state semifinals at the Kohl Center in Madison before losing narrowly to Memorial HS of Madison. This past season, as a sophomore, Kevon played more of a point-forward position for Coach Diener, and averaged over twenty points, nearly nine rebounds, and two assists. In the toughest conference in Wisconsin, Looney was named the Milwaukee City Conference Player of the Year. Kevon was also a unanimous First Team All-State selection by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and a Sophomore All-American by MaxPreps.

Kevon Looney was one of the best players at the LeBron James Skills Academy, Photo Provided by Nike/Postion Sports

This camp season, Looney’s unique skill set, versatility and rebounding on both ends of the court really helped him stand out, first at the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, California. He followed that up by performing well at the NBA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA. In July, he was invited to compete at Nike’s prestigious LeBron James Skills Academy, where he excelled as a long, face-up wing in his preferred small forward position alongside teammates Austin Nichols and Andrew Wiggins on the Duke camp team. On the AAU circuit, the Wisconsin native played for the Milwaukee Rebels, where he stood out at the Spiece Run N’ Jam in Fort Wayne, the Kansas City Classic, the NY2LA Swish ‘N Dish, and the Under Armour Summer Jam in Wisconsin. Most recently, he played for the Rebels at the FAB 48, where Duke special assistant coach Nate James watched him at courtside.

When the summer drew to a close, Kevon has been recognized as a consensus top ten caliber player in the class of 2014. I spoke with Kevon at multiple events and, off the court, he’s got the same poise, directness, and maturity that belies his age and so impresses on the court.

 

 

 

How do you feel about your AAU season overall?

It’s gone pretty well. We played pretty well. 
You’ve had a bit of a breakout year.
I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played this spring and summer. (laughs) I’ve been working hard.
How do you account for it? Was it something you did either in the off-season or the high school season? Getting more physically developed?
Yeah, I think it’s a lot of working out and staying in the gym..just putting in the time. Just try to out-work people, working on things that people say I need to improve on.
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So it’s a work ethic thing for you?
Yeah. 
I would assume this is the case, but do you feel that your recruitment has picked up over the last few months?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve gotten a lot more suitors. 
Which ones? Who are some of your suitors?
I’ve got Michigan State, Kansas, Wake Forest, Stanford. All of them offered.
Oh, so you must be a good student.
Yeah, and Kentucky and North Carolina have shown interest as well. There are some others.
How far along are you in your recruitment?
Not very far along. I’m going to try to sit down and put a list together in the middle of August. I’d like to cut it down a little bit.
So if a school wants to get in with you, they’ve got to start pretty soon, would you say?
Probably, but I’m still open. 
What do you view as your strengths and weaknesses?
My weaknesses are I need to get stronger. I need to improve my athleticism and work on my handle. 
Do you view yourself as like a 3-4?
I really see myself as a pure 3. A 3. 
Will distance be a factor in your decision?
No, not really. 
What was it like to play with Andrew Wiggins and also Austin Nichols?
They’re both very good. I had never seen them before this summer or played with them. 
What would be your scouting report on both of them?
They’re both very athletic and they’re both real good.
Away from the court, what would you like the audience to know about you?
I’m a humble and smart kid. I have a good family and I’m fun to be around.
Although you‘re capable of doing both, do you consider yourself more of a face-up player or back-to-the-basket player? 
I like to face-up more. I mean, I’ll post if I have to, but it’s usually only because I have to. I like to face up against my opponent. 
You mentioned before that you’re a good student. Academically, you’ll be in good shape?
Yeah, my cumulative right now is about a 3.6. 
Well, that’s impressive. That’s better than two of these normal guys combined.
(laughs)
What do you know about Duke and have they called?
Oh, they’re a great program and actually, they have called. I can’t believe I forgot. 
And what did they say?
They said that they wanted to come see me play. 
Do you know which coach was communicating with you?
Nate James. 
And what did he say to you?
Just that he was looking forward to seeing me.
And what do you know about the program?
I know they’ve got a great program. I know they play in the ACC and I know that they have a great coach in Coach K. We saw them practice. 
What do you know about Coach K?
I know he’s one of the greatest college coaches. 
What is it like for you to play in front of college coaches? Is it helpful for you?
Well, I did it last year and I thought it was a bit stressful, but this year, it’s a lot more fun.  
Does it make you excited or nervous before a game? Can you telling anything different about yourself before a game?
I mean, like the first time it did, but now, I can’t say it really does. I get pretty excited every time. After you talk to them awhile, it helps. 
What’s the one thing that you hope college coaches walk away thinking about you?  “Oh, that kid’s a…?”
That I’m one of the best players out there, that I’m a good person, and stuff like that. 
I read in an article that your high school coach, Tom Diener, who had coached two other NBA players in high school, felt that you were the best player that he’s ever coached.
Well, that’s high praise. It’s great to hear stuff like that, but you know, you still have to keep heading to the gym and work hard. 
I was wondering what went through your head when you heard that.
I just didn’t pay attention to it.  I just tried to work hard. (laughs)
Do you have any visits planned?
I don’t have any plans, but I’ll probably take some visits later in August. 
Do you have a favorite at this point?
No, no favorites at this point. 
For you, what is the difference between AAU basketball and high school?
In AAU, there’s a higher level of competition than in my high school. We’re playing with better players in AAU. Everyone plays harder. We get to travel a lot more.
This year, in high school, will you be traveling a lot? Going to showcases or tournaments?
Oh, no, we pretty much stay in the same state. 
I was hoping that some people could see you play around the country. What are your goals for next season?
In high school, I’d like for us to be state champs.
Do you have a good shot?
We have a shot. We were only like two games away this year and when I was a freshman. The first year we got really close, so I’d really like to be state champs. I think eventually we will. 
Well, with you there, I’m sure you’ve got a great chance. Where do you feel comfortable shooting the ball?
I feel pretty much comfortable shooting anywhere middle and in.
Like 15 feet and in?
Yeah, I like to attack. I like to shoot pretty close in. I can shoot three’s a lot, but, you know, I guess I prefer to get a better shot.
Your handle seems to be something you worked a lot on. What has been the key and do you feel a noticeable improvement?
Oh, yeah, I work on my handle a lot. I mean, I don’t have to dribble a lot in AAU because I’ve got two good ball handlers, I just try to give it to them and go to my spot. Like bang bang. But yeah, I work on my handle a lot.
One of your strengths is defensive versatility. Which position do you feel comfortable defending?
I think I can pretty much defend anybody. (laughs) Well, I mean, 2 and up. 
Yeah, I think 2, 3, and 4. What would be some people who will be important whenever you do decide?
My parents, my parents are most of the influence. A couple of my AAU coaches. Mostly, my parents. 
Did your parents play basketball at all?
My dad played a little bit. 
In college?
I’m not sure, I think it was like NAIA school. I can’t even think of it.
Does he work with you a lot?
He worked with me when I was smaller, but not right now. 
Do you have a trainer?
Actually, I work out with my AAU coaches. I’ve been lifting a lot lately.
Yeah, it looks like that in the upper body. You’re looking a little stronger. What’s your current height and weight?
6’8“, 190.
And what would you like to be?
I’m trying to get to at least 205. 
One thing that comes up with you a lot is versatility. 
Yeah, I’m pretty versatile. I can play a lot of positions and I can score from a lot of positions. I would say I’m pretty versatile. 
Lastly, for an audience who has never seen you play before, how would you describe your game?
A versatile forward that can score and defend. 
That’s perfect. Thank you very much, Kevon.

Thanks a lot.

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Folsom star Phillip Carter is taking his official visit to Duke this weekend.

Recent commit Phillip Carter takes Duke official visit this weekend

Folsom star Phillip Carter is taking his official visit to Duke this weekend.
Folsom star Phillip Carter is taking his official visit to Duke this weekend.

The Blue Devils received a New Year’s present with the commitment of Folsom safety Phillip Carter at the start of 2013. After initially committing to San Jose State, the California star opened things back up after the departure of Head Coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado. Coach Lubick led the Blue Devils’ recruitment of Carter, who will play safety in Coach Knowle’s 4-2-5 defense in Durham. BDN spoke with the newest Blue Devil commit shortly before his trip to Durham this weekend.

How did your senior season go?

Yeah, obviously I go to Folsom High School, we went 14 and 1 this year, we lost to De La Salle, one of the best teams in the country. We had a successful year, won section championship, and league championship. I play receiver and strong safety and offensively, actually the first game of the season I had an 10 receptions for 317 yards and five touchdowns just in one game. That was pretty good and then I ended the year with sixty something receptions with almost 700 yards and I think 12 touchdowns and then on defense I had 90 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 10 pass break-ups, those are the main facts. Just being a senior on the team, I felt I had to like step up my game from last year and I really improved and became a better leader as well.

You did a little bit of everything in high school; where do college coaches see you playing?

I think the consensus is that they see me as safety, but there has been colleges that put me as receiver or both, like San Jose State, Harvard, Yale, Northern Arizona, they recruited me as both. Basically as an athlete I can play either side of the ball, but Duke sees me as a safety, and they’ve already been talking to me about defensive stuff, and stuff about safety.

You committed to San Jose State early in your recruiting process. Can you talk a little about that decision and how your recruiting process has gone overall?

My early interest came from the Ivy league schools like Harvard and Yale. I took a visit out there during the summer and visited the campuses and stuff. I would have chosen Harvard over Yale but Harvard didn’t really have the major that I want, which is civil engineering. So then I just waited that out and other schools came like, Air Force, Army and Northern Arizona and San Jose State. I committed to them because I like the coaching staff.  Then Coach MacIntyre left for the Colorado job and took most of his staff with him and I am left like kind of in shock a little bit, then I kind of reopened my recruiting options. Luckily one of my coaches on the high school team, my position coach, knows Coach Lubick, he got in contact with Coach Lubick and told him about me and then Coach Lubick started recruiting me and that’s how I ended up here.

What do you know about the Duke football program and the university itself?

I know that, Duke is definitely one of the top schools in the country, in a lot of the majors and fields that they have. I think like top ten in almost, in a lot of them. I know that they are academically, and I did see the Belk Bowl against Cincinnati and I did watch that game. I know were they’re worldwide.

I know that this late in the recruiting process, things can get stressful. Where do things stand with your commitment to Duke? Are other schools still talking to you?

Definitely 100% to Duke. There is a little bit of business this weekend and I am excited for that. People have already, I think I got like twenty new followers on Twitter just all affiliated with Duke so I really like that they are making me feel comfortable. Their blogs were talking about all my highlights and giving me compliments.  I feel really good about Duke.

It sounds like Duke fans are excited to see you play. Do you have anything else you want them to know about you?

Academically they can know that, I want to be a civil engineer and that I have been a really good student most of my life. I don’t really do any off field the stuff other than like hang out with friends.