Tag Archives: Allen Jackson

In just over a month, Duke and Richmond will kickoff the 2011 season under the lights in Wallace Wade Stadium

Football Friday, Under the Lights!

This week’s Football Friday looks back at last weekend’s spring game and looks ahead to the spring recruiting season. Join Blue Devil Nation Premium to stay in the loop with Duke Football all year long. [private]

 

This week's Football Friday is under the lights!

Welcome to Football Friday, under the lights! This is what happens when the Football Friday author has a busy week at his day job studying gynecology. FUN! In all seriousness, sorry to be tardy to the party, but it unfortunately will happen from time to time that we’ll have a nightcap. It’s been a busy week in Duke Football, so let’s get right to it.

Positives from the spring game

A quick highlight of the spring game with some comments from Coach Cutcliffe was posted today on our Facebook page. There was a lot to like from the spring game and good reason to be positive and optimistic about this fall. Of course, questions still exist about this year’s Blue Devils, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but many of those questions won’t be answered until they line up against Richmond and Stanford in weeks 1 and 2. The spring game was a good opportunity to evaluate some potential strengths and weaknesses as the team heads into the 2011 season. Just a few quick thoughts:

The defense as a whole, including the defensive line, performed better than expected. I thought Duke competed well along the line of scrimmage and were even able to pressure the quarterback. It still seems likely that incumbents Charlie Hatcher, Sydney Sarmiento, and Justin Foxx will see the majority of snaps at their respective positions, but the influx of redshirt-freshmen has really improved the depth along the front four. In particular, players like Jamal Wallace, who led the team in tackles in the spring game, and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, who was credited with a sack, appear ready to contribute this fall. I am excited to see what Coach Petri is able to do with this young group of linemen.

Issac Blakeney looks to be ready to contribute for the Blue Devils in 2011

Ross Cockrell took home the most improved defensive player award, and the staff has always remained excited about his potential, despite some early struggles as a first-year starter last season. In the spring game, Blue Devil fans got a look at another exciting young member of the Duke secondary in Issac Blakeney. Blakeney was impressive last Saturday, totaling 5 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup. The Blue Devils will add 3 talented freshmen to the secondary this fall in Jared Boyd, Tim Burton, and Chris Tavarez, which should mean that the Duke defensive backs will be improved from a year ago. Duke will of course need big years out of veterans Matt Daniels and Lee Butler in the secondary, but the future looks bright.

Offensively, there was even more reason for optimism. Duke is in the enviable position of having three talented quarterbacks in Sean Renfree, Brandon Connette, and Anthony Boone. After Saturday’s performance, it is reasonable to assume that all three will see playing time this fall, and Coach Cutcliffe alluded to some possible creative offensive packages in his post-game comments. All three quarterbacks showed the ability to lead successful drives in the spring game, both on the ground and through the air. Though senior Jay Hollingsworth was held out, the four remaining backs were impressive in limited action. Sophomore Juwan Thompson was awarded most improved offensive player, and he is likely to see an expanded role this fall. At receiver, Duke has All-ACC caliber upperclassmen in Donovan Varner, Conner Vernon, and Cooper Helfet, coupled with rising stars in Tyree Watkins, Brandon Braxton, and Braxton Deaver. The offensive line returns all but one starter and adds talented redshirt freshmen to the depth chart. In summary, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about Duke’s potential on the offense.

Duke picks up 2nd commitment for 2012

Allen Jackson met with Coach Cutcliffe after the spring game on Saturday and gave his verbal pledge to the Duke Football program. BDN spoke with the newest Blue Devil last Sunday, who mentioned Duke’s academics, as well as his respect for new defensive line coach Rick Petri. As a player, Jackson has tremendous athleticism for his size and the potential to be a dynamic pass rushing defensive end at the college level. His biggest weakness is size, but he plans to work on adding strength over the next year to prepare himself for the college game. The Duke staff is very excited about Allen’s commitment, and the Blue Devil Nation welcomes its newest member.

Spring recruiting picking up

In case you haven’t noticed, things are really picking up with recruiting around the Blue Devils and around the country. With spring practices at most schools now in full swing, prospects are taking in practices and spring games, and commitments have begun to roll in. Duke hosted a number of prospects at the spring game, most notably TE Dan Beilinson, LB Deion Williams, DE Romeo Okwara, and OL Eric Olson. All four players have received offers from Duke and enjoyed their visit to Duke. Dan Beilinson described his visit as “a really great experience.” With spring practice now completed, the Duke staff will focus their efforts on the recruiting trail.

With a few dozen offers already extended, the first step for the Duke staff is to fully assess each prospect’s interest in the Duke program. Several prospects with offers, especially those from the west coast (i.e., QB Oshay Dunmore, TE Evan Baylis, WR Jonavaughn Williams) have yet to make a trip to Durham. For many families, the travel costs required by long distance unofficial visits are prohibitive, and the only way Duke will be able to see these prospects on campus will be to wait until official visits, a potentially risky proposition. This can be a difficult point in the recruiting process, as the Blue Devil staff must decide where to best focus their efforts and resources.

While I do expect Duke to eventually begin to cast a wider net with scholarship offers, most likely during June camps, there is a group of prospects that Duke has made a very strong impression on this spring. These are players already with impressive offer lists, and I suspect Duke will remain heavily involved with their recruitment. In fact, I expect Duke to secure another verbal commitment fairly soon, based on the feedback I have heard from the prospects directly. It is undoubtedly extremely early in the recruiting process, and written scholarship offers are still months away, but the early indications from the class of 2012 appear very promising for the Blue Devils.

A shameless plea until next week

Well, that’s all the time I’m allowed to spend thinking/writing about football for now, so it’s back to studying gynecology. I know you think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Until next week, I know there are a few of you out there who read this column weekly and are interested in Duke Football. With basketball season now sadly behind us, please join in the discussion on our football message board. There’s lots to talk about, and I assure you there are no experts or holier-than-thou’s among us. We’ve got lots more football recruiting coverage still to come and we always welcome input and suggestions. We all make up the Blue Devil Nation – WE ARE DUKE!

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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.

Allen Jackson gave a verbal commitment to Duke on Saturday

Duke stands out to DE prospect Allen Jackson

Allen Jackson is receiving interest from many ACC and SEC schools

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. Allen 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 has already received offers from Duke, Maryland, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia. Highlights from Allen’s junior year 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?

As a player, I definitely think I use my hands and my quickness definitely to my ability, but I definitely think I play more of a finesse game than a power game, but I definitely see my hands and my quickness off the ball, as a strength of mine.

BDN: What are some of the things you’re working on this offseason?

Off-season, it’s just trying to be quicker off the ball, and trying to become stronger, and at the next level that’s going to be one of the things I’m going to continue to work on as well.

BDN: What are your goals for your senior season?

Senior year, I want to be all-state, I want to have at least 15 sacks in a year, I just want to dominate.

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

Definitely how I get along with the coaches, and how prestigious they are in their academics, and certainly how far they are from my family.

BDN: Who are the schools you have heard from the most so far? Who were the first schools to contact you?

Definitely Maryland was the first to contact me, and Duke as well, I’ve heard the most from them, but those were my first two scholarship offers, I’ve heard a lot from some some SEC schools, and a lot of the ACC schools as well.

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

I’ve visited Maryland and Duke.

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

Duke has stood out to DE Allen Jackson early

 

 

I definitely plan to visit some more of the ACC schools along the coast in the upcoming months, and I also want to probably go down to Vanderbilt, and another SEC school or two.

BDN: Have any schools stood out to you at this point in the process?

Definitely Duke, with their academics, it’s a very high, prestigious school, and Duke is a school I can really see myself at.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your college decision?

Not at the moment, I’m just kind of going to take it as it flows in.

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

Thank you. Certainly, certainly. You too. Bye.

 

DL Carlos Wray is the 6th verbal commitment in the class of 2012

Football Friday returns for round two

DL Carlos Wray says that Duke has stood out to him early.

Football Friday is back for its second week and BDN’s Patrick Cacchio offers up a brief introduction to Duke Football recruiting. Join Blue Devil Nation Premium today to get an inside look at Duke athletics and become a part of our growing community. [private]

We did it! We all survived another week and we’re back for our second installment of Football Friday. Somehow, enough of you read this column last week that they’re letting me write it again. It’s all thanks to you, our members, with your emails, your PMs, your tweets, and your Facebooking. And as a big thank you to you, we’ll give you what you want this week – recruiting updates.

Kudos and other random thoughts

I figure I’ll get the simple stuff out of the way first each week. Duke had 13 players named to the ACC All-Academic team, more than twice any other ACC school. In fact, add together any other two ACC schools and you’re still not even close. Virginia and North Carolina? 5 players combined. The 2 Techs? 9 players combined. The Duke players who were recognized are some of the team’s stars on the field – almost all of them are starters. Obviously, having the smartest players doesn’t translate into wins on the field, but academic excellence is an important part of Duke culture, and it’s great to see that as Duke football becomes more competitive, we’re not forgetting our roots (cough, tarheels, cough). Congratulations to all of the well-deserving student-athletes.

I feel obligated to get on my soapbox for a minute and talk about what happened at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn. It’s a great reminder for all of us that our individual actions (and tweets/Facebook posts) reflect on our fan base as a whole. A proud tradition at Auburn has been forever tarnished by one severely misguided Crimson Tide fan. The bottom line is that all of us as fans need to do a better job of cheering for our own team and respecting our opponents, as difficult as that can sometimes be.

Football recruiting 101

For those who have heard Coach Cutcliffe and his staff talk about recruiting, much of the rest of this article may be review, but bear with us, there are big names at the end.

I’m going to go out on a ledge here and assume that if you’re a BDN member, you follow Duke basketball recruiting pretty closely. And why wouldn’t you? All you have to do is find a ranking of the top 25 or so prospects in a given class, read one of Mark’s magnificent basketball updates (or should it be magnificent Mark’s basketball updates?), check out highlights on YouTube, and you’re pretty much a Duke basketball recruiting insider, right? That doesn’t work so well for football. ESPN lists over 15,000 prospects in the class of 2011, and already has about 10,000 prospects in the class of 2012. Unfortunately, Duke cannot just target the top 25 or so from the rankings, since they have to fill out a roster with 85 scholarships. So somehow, we have to sort through all of those football prospects to find our future Blue Devils. I should have asked for more cell phone minutes for Christmas.

Luckily, the list gets broken down several ways. First, each member of the Duke coaching staff serves as the recruiting coordinator for a geographic area. For example, as you might expect, Matt Lubick is the lead recruiter for most of the west coast. Then, within a region, there are only a certain number of FBS-caliber athletes, which can be determined by evaluating game film and transcripts (or paying for a scouting service).  At Duke, the next step is probably the most restrictive, and that’s whether or not the student will qualify academically for admission to Duke. The staff will then focus their recruiting efforts on this remaining group of core prospects. Obviously, hundreds of hours of work go into the evaluation process alone, but luckily for us, we don’t have to really start following all of this until Duke starts recruiting a prospect to see if there’s a mutual interest. I won’t be needing those cell phone minutes after all!

A word on in-state recruiting

Duke was the first to offer Tarboro RB Todd Gurley

Ok, a couple hundred words. A common misconception/criticism seems to be that Coach Cutcliffe and his staff are almost exclusively focusing their recruiting efforts on North Carolina prospects and failing to “leverage the Duke brand” at a national level. This is simply not true, and the numbers prove it. Duke’s current roster has about two dozen players from North Carolina, which is by far the least among the 4 North Carolina ACC schools. The Duke staff has placed an emphasis on in-state recruiting, but it’s by no means exclusive.

There are two primary benefits to Duke’s emphasis on North Carolina and surrounding areas. First, prospects within driving distance of Durham are the easiest to get on campus for unofficial visits, which allow prospects to build relationships with the coaching staff and grow comfortable with the Duke campus. The Duke staff places a lot of stock in the ability to get to know a player at a personal level, and the best way to do that is to have as much face-to-face contact as the NCAA allows. Second, it’s important to a lot of players and their parents that they go to school close to home. This may be more significant for athletes than the average college student, as it is usually important for the player’s family to be able to watch him play on Saturdays. Most college football rosters are made up of a significant number of in-state recruits, and this probably has a lot to do with it.

Breaking down the 2012 board

The Duke staff maintains a recruiting board of a few hundred prospects. Each prospect is evaluated individually by the entire coaching staff and a collective decision is made whether to offer that prospect a scholarship or to evaluate again at a later time in the recruiting cycle. For the class of 2012, there are already well over 100 prospects on Duke’s board, and roughly a third of them have received verbal scholarship offers to date. In addition to the board, there are several hundred other prospects that Duke will invite for unofficial visits to Junior Days, summer camps, and games during the fall as part of their ongoing evaluation process. Keep in mind that just by taking a quick look at Duke’s current roster, it’s easy to see that there won’t be many scholarships available in 2012 (think 15, give or take a few).

So how does the board breakdown? Since I mentioned the in-state emphasis, let’s start there. Duke is currently evaluating or has offered about 30 players from North Carolina, and roughly another 30 players from neighboring states. There are also over a dozen prospects from Florida and Ohio, and another dozen from California and Colorado as well.

Position-wise, Duke has clear needs at QB, RB, and DL in 2012. As such, there are 18 quarterbacks already on the board, 10 running backs (4 with offers), and 16 defensive linemen (8 with offers). The offensive line is a position that is best built by signing a few prospects in each class, and Coach Matt Luke has done a great job getting in early with top prospects. Duke has already offered 10 offensive linemen, all of whom are highly-coveted by programs around the country. Obviously, there are a handful of players that have been offered at other positions, but for now, we’ll just focus on the key areas of need.

Bilal Marshall is the first 2012 QB with a Duke offer

Top targets

QB: Right now, Bilal Marshall is the only quarterback with a Duke offer. Coach Cutcliffe, known as a QB guru for his work with the Mannings, tends to keep his quarterback recruiting close to the vest, but we know that most of the top high school quarterbacks in the country are on his list (Gunner Kiel, Zeke Pike, Bart Houston, Casey Cochran). Even though Marshall seems to be at the top for now, we know that Duke has also been involved with Ian Fisher from Maryland, and that Bart Houston will visit this weekend. Several other top quarterbacks are giving Duke a serious look and it seems safe to say at this point that Duke has a good chance of landing an elite quarterback in this class, though it’s too early to say which one.

RB: Keith Marshall is a perfect example of why it’s important for Duke to build its relationships and reputation in-state. Many consider the speedy prospect out of Raleigh’s Millbrook High School to be the top running back in the class of 2012, and Duke was among the first to offer him. It’s too early to tell where his recruitment will go, but he’ll have his pick of schools from around the country and Duke remains in the mix. Another top in-state RB is Todd Gurley, who took in Duke’s win over North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium last week. At this stage in the process, Duke is in good shape with Gurley and will be a major player in his recruitment.

DL: Vince Oghobaase was probably the last elite defensive line prospect to commit to Duke, but early indications are that Duke will land one in 2012. Early on, Duke is in good shape with Carlos Wray, D.J. Reader, Matt Godin, and Allen Jackson. All four look to be solid 4- or 5-star caliber prospects and have all made visits to Durham and came away impressed.

LB: This is another area of need and Duke is in good shape early with two top prospects in Preston Durham and Keilin Rayner.

2011 preview next week

In case you didn’t know, Duke’s schedule was released this week, spring practice kicked off Wednesday, and Duke hosts its second Junior Day this weekend. Oops, probably should have written about those this week, but I had to give you guys what you wanted. I guess we’ll tackle those issues next week. Again, I have to give you a reason to keep coming back (as if my wit and charm aren’t enough). Best of luck making it through another week. Until then, WE ARE DUKE.

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