Happy Friday, Blue Devil Nation! A nice, shortened week should make you feel good but if not, Football Friday is here to satisfy your weekly football craving. As you know, there’s never an offseason here at BDN, and Mark Watson and Andrew Slater have been burning the midnight oil all week with great basketball coverage. Be sure to check it out, and invite your friends to join our growing community of Duke fans. If you tell two people, and they tell two people, well, then that’s some kind of crazy math that I don’t remember how to do. Before my brain stops working, we better get going…
Blue Devils feeling the love
Four Duke players were named to preseason Award Watch Lists this week, while a few others may have been overlooked. Coming off a three win season, it’s only natural that Duke might have a few players fly under the radar on the national level, but that should all change this fall, as the Blue Devils pursue bowl eligibility. In any case, it’s a nice honor for the Duke players who were recognized this week, and we congratulate them, but look forward to an even better 2011.
Part of our job here at BDN is to help give fans an inside look at the Duke players and coaches. Sometimes, however, the players and coaches do the job for us. This week, Duke’s star senior WR Donovan Varner created the first entry in his self-produced video blog, The Dondo Files. Varner is poised for a big senior year, and we hope his video blog will be a good inside look into his season, and the Blue Devils’ first bowl game in over a decade.
Another interesting venture by two Blue Devils is Middle Child, a clothing line created by Johnny Williams and marketed by Matt Daniels. For those who missed Johnny’s cartoon series for GoDuke last year, take a look at his clothing designs, which show off the Duke cornerback’s impressive artistic ability. And if ndotsmitty is wearing it, you know it’s hot!
Doing work in the classroom
While we’re applauding the Blue Devils’ off the field efforts, it’s important to point out that last year’s team had a cumulative GPA of 3.1, which included 13 ACC All-Academic selections, more than twice any other school. As we’ve said before, it’s great to see that as Duke builds the program on the field, they continue to uphold the university’s strong academic reputation. The Duke players are setting themselves up for a great future and truly embody the concept of the student-athlete.
Come on, come on…
Kickoff on September 3 is just 57 days away, with training camp opening in just a few short weeks, so be sure to get your season tickets now. With spring practice having wrapped up in March, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Blue Devils on the field in Wallace Wade Stadium. For the Duke Football faithful, we share your pain, and hope that these last few weeks fly by. We’ve kicked off our opponent preview series this week to help speed things up for you. Be sure to check out the Richmond preview, and check back on Sunday for our Stanford preview. In the meantime, if anyone happens to see me camped outside of Wallace Wade like Eric Cartman waiting for the Nintendo Wii, can you bring me a sandwich?
Please make sure you have all your belongings…
…as you exit Football Friday. While we love to share with the whole class, we also like to reward our Premium Members. We have the latest recruiting information for Duke’s class of 2012, and well, you’ll just have to join to find out…[private]
A slow recruiting week!
We’re all for the fast-paced summer recruiting season, but it is nice to be able to catch your breath every once in awhile. While it’s impossible to predict things in recruiting, it seems like things may slow down a little bit as we head into training camp. Duke has 13 commitments in the class of 2012, with an absolute maximum of 18 scholarships available. The coaching staff would like to add 4 more players to this class, and will hold a spot for a potential program-changer, should he decide to be a Blue Devil late in the recruiting season. Here are the staff’s remaining targets.:
A couple notes on this group: Todd Gurley has been in France, running track for Team USA, which has led him to miss “The Opening” in Oregon this week. Korren Kirven is the only member of this group that is in Oregon, and while Duke has made a good impression, the reality is that he may be a long-shot for the Blue Devils. Woody Baron, as we reported awhile ago, appears to be down to Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt, but if Duke could get a visit, you never know.
Do you like surprises? Well, I actually am not a big fan, so I’ll just give you the update. Once the dust settles on the LBJ and Adidas coverage, we’ll have new interviews with Marcus Allen, Keilin Rayner, Anthony Nash, and David Reader. We’ll be getting in touch with the other remaining targets, too, but we have to pace ourselves!
Thanks for being a member and a loyal Football Friday patron. We hope you enjoy our coverage and always would love to hear more from you on the message boards.
Even on a holiday weekend, it’s still time for BDN’s Football Friday, a weekly look inside the world of Duke Football. If you enjoy this weekly column, please consider becoming a BDN Premium Member and joining our growing community of Duke Football fans. As we say goodbye to the month of June, it’s time to look back at an eventful month in Duke Football, and look ahead to the 2011 season, which kicks off in just 63 days!!! Of course, it's always football season at Football Friday.
It’s finally here!
Next week kicks off the release of college football’s preseason award lists. What, you thought I was talking about Harry Potter? Oh, please. Starting on Tuesday, the College Football Awards Association will release their preseason award watch lists. While Duke still has a long way to go in regards to earning the respect of the national college football community, there are a few Duke players who should be nominated. On Wednesday, the Biletnikoff (top WR) and Mackey Award (top TE) watch lists will be announced, and Duke’s Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, and Cooper Helfet are certainly deserving of consideration. As a 2010 semi-finalist, Duke’s Will Snyderwine should be named to the Lou Groza Award watch list on Thursday. Of course, the awards will ultimately be earned on the field, but it’s important for Duke players to receive the preseason recognition they deserve.
Changing of the guard
Head Coach David Cutcliffe announced a few changes to his football staff today. “We are very excited with our recent hires and adjustments to the staff,” Cutcliffe stated. “I have either coached or fostered long term relationships with each of these young people and their families. It is great to surround yourself with people you deeply care for and know are winners on and off the field. We approach the 2011 season with great enthusiasm." Among the changes, the staff welcomes back former Blue Devil All-American defensive lineman Vince Oghobaase as a staff assistant. John Russell, a former NFL and Wake Forest linebacker, joins the staff as a graduate assistant, and current recruiting assistant Ben Loebner has been promoted to a graduate assistant. Former Duke All-ACC cornerback Leon Wright has been named a Defensive Operations assistant and Jomar Wright switches his title from graduate assistant to recruiting assistant. Marcus Johnson, a former NFL and All-SEC offensive lineman, joins the Duke strength and conditioning staff. Welcome to all the new coaches, and good luck this fall!
Boy, that escalated quickly…
Duke entered the month of June with four verbal commitments in the class of 2012: TE Erich Schneider, DE Allen Jackson, SAF Dwayne Norman, and LB Deion Williams. We now leave the month of June with twelve verbal commitments, capped off by a big week, in which the Blue Devils added their QB of the future in Thomas Sirk and one of the top TEs in the state in Dan Beilinson. BDN members were the first to hear about these commitments, and we’ll continue to bring you the best Duke Football recruiting coverage around.
Get ‘em while they’re hot…
With only a handful of scholarships remaining in the class of 2012, Duke is hoping to land a few impact players over the next several weeks. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Blue Devils will need to add a RB in this class, and Tarboro’s Todd Gurley, along with Charlotte’s Jela Duncan, remain the coaching staff’s top two priorities. Gurley recently won a national championship in track and will represent the US in France later this summer. The Duke staff continues to work hard on the recruiting trail, hoping to cap off the class of 2012 with a program-changer or two like WR Drae Bowles or DT Korren Kirven. A quick look at the 2011 Duke roster shows that Duke will graduate 18 players this season. Duke is certainly hopeful that the group of redshirt-juniors will stay with the program for their final year of eligibility in 2012, meaning that scholarships are getting tight in the class of 2012. For those remaining prospects considering Duke offers, the smart move would be to act quickly.
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’ll go bowling…”
With the NFL lockout dragging on, Duke has been fortunate to have former QB Thad Lewis around campus for most of the summer. BDN caught up with the Blue Devil record-holder earlier this summer, and GoDuke featured an interview earlier this week. Thad has big expectations for Sean Renfree and the Blue Devils in 2011, and after leading Duke to 5 wins in his senior year, he knows what it takes to win in the ACC.
Reasons for optimism
Overall, there is tremendous optimism around the Duke Football program, and many fans (with a few outspoken exceptions) have high hopes for the 2011 season. Starting next week, BDN will take an in-depth look at each of Duke’s 2011 opponents, beginning with the Richmond Spiders. We’re fortunate to have been able to team up with some great writers from other schools to give us an inside look at Duke’s competition. In general, though, we know Duke faces a tough schedule this fall, and after a 3-win season in 2010, why all the optimism? Before we start analyzing Duke's opponents, let’s take a brief look at some 2010 statistics, and a 2011 position group assessment.
In 2010, Duke lost 4 games by 6 points or less.
Duke had 43 trips to the redzone in 2010, but found the end zone only 22 times, barely 50% of the time. Luckily, pre-season All-ACC kicker Will Snyderwine was able to add 16 field goals to help keep the Blue Devils in games.
The 3rd quarter was unkind to the 2010 Blue Devils. Duke either had a lead, or were within 1 score at halftime in 8 of their 12 games, but only won 3 games.
Finishing games was also difficult for the 2010 Duke team, as they had a lead or were within 1 score entering the 4th quarter in 6 of their 12 games, but again, only won 3 games.
Turnover margin may have been the key statistic to Duke’s 2010 season, but there is reason for optimism. Over the first 7 games, Duke had a turnover margin of -12 (21 to 9), but a turnover margin of +1 in their final 5 games (7 to 8).
The much-maligned Duke defense had difficult pressuring the quarterback all season, but again, there was subtle improvement. With just 4 sacks through their first 6 games, Duke finished with 8 sacks in their final 6 games. Five of Duke’s final six opponents were bowl teams.
QB: Duke returns their top two quarterbacks in 2011 in starting redshirt-junior Sean Renfree and sophomore backup Brandon Connette. With a year of starting experience under his belt, the expectations are sky-high for Renfree, who Coach Cutcliffe described as having a “great” spring. Anthony Boone will add depth to the position after redshirting in 2010.
RB: Duke returns all five of their running backs from 2010, led by junior Desmond Scott, who has paced the Blue Devils in rushing as both a freshman and a sophomore. Duke improved their rushing yards by 46.5 yards per game from 2009 to 2010, and scored 13 more touchdowns on the ground. With all of their top rushers and blockers returning, there is no reason not to expect similar improvement in 2011.
WR: Duke loses Austin Kelly, who had been a solid receiver for the program in his four years in Durham, but brings back All-ACC receivers Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon. Sophomore Brandon Braxton, after catching 14 passes in 2010, is expected to see an increased role as he fills in for Kelly. Tyree Watkins and Corey Gattis are two more underclassmen expected to fill out the depth chart at receiver in 2011.
TE: By the end of the 2011 season, junior college transfer Cooper Helfet established himself as one of Renfree’s favorite targets, and one of the top tight ends in the ACC. After a slow start and a nagging ankle injury, Helfet finished with at least 4 catches in his final 5 games, including a 122-yard game against Virginia. Redshirt-senior Danny Parker rejoins the tight end corps after the graduation of Brett Huffman and Brandon King. Redshirt-freshman Braxton Deaver is expected to compete for a starting spot this fall, and true freshman David Reeves is one of the top prospects in Duke’s class of 2011.
OL: Duke will return four of five starters in 2011, the lone loss being center Bryan Morgan. With Brian Moore sliding over to center from right guard, Duke’s entire offensive line should weigh in at 275 pounds or greater; redshirt-freshman Takoby Cofield and Laken Tomlinson both eclipse 300 pounds and are expected to compete for snaps.
DL: This position is the big question mark on the 2011 Duke team, but there are plenty of reasons to expect improvement over 2010. Despite losing starters Patrick Egboh and Wes Oglesby, Duke will add seven (7!) redshirt-freshmen to the depth chart along the defensive line in 2011. The Blue Devils return redshirt-senior Charlie Hatcher, along with redshirt-junior Kenny Anunike, redshirt-sophomore Justin Foxx, and redshirt-sophomore Sydney Sarmiento. This spring, however, it was the redshirt-freshmen who earned the highest accolades from the Duke coaching staff, led by DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and DT Jamal Bruce. With the coaching of Rick Petri, athleticism of the young redshirt-freshmen, and overall increased depth, this is a unit that should improve week-to-week in 2011 and give the Blue Devils a chance to win ball games.
LB: While most fans are concerned about the Blue Devils’ defensive line, the linebackers are another area that needs to improve from 2010, but has significant losses. Leading tackler Abraham Kromah has graduated along with Damian Thornton and Adam Banks. Standout freshman Kelby Brown returns after knee surgery, but is expected to be a full participant in fall camp. Duke has to hope that junior Austin Gamble and redshirt-sophomore Kevin Rojas, who have shown flashes of potential in the past, are ready for a breakout season in 2011. Coach Jim Collins has developed some great linebackers at Duke, and he will need to work his magic this year, as outside of those top three, the depth chart will be filled with first-year players in redshirt-freshman C.J. France, freshman Kyler Brown, freshman Britton Grier, freshman David Helton, and freshman Jon Woodruff.
CB: The loss of senior Chris Rwabukamba will be sorely missed within the Duke secondary, but the coaching staff believes the Blue Devils have several athletes ready to step up at cornerback, led by redshirt-sophomore Ross Cockrell. Despite an inconsistent freshman year as a starter, Cockrell finished 6th on the team with 60 tackles, and led the Blue Devils with 3 interceptions and was 2nd with 7 pass break-ups. Cockrell should take a step forward, as will senior Johnny Williams, in his second full year at cornerback. Zach Greene, Tony Foster, and Lex Butler will fill out the depth chart, but they may be pushed by freshmen Jared Boyd and Tim Burton.
SAF: The strongest positon group on Duke’s defense is safety, and the new 4-2-5 defense is designed to exploit that strength. Senior Matt Daniels should be poised for an All-ACC caliber year alongside fellow senior Lee Butler. The Duke staff has high expectations for redshirt-sophomore August Campbell and redshirt-freshman Issac Blakeney.
ST: Duke’s special teams has developed into a strength in recent years, and with Will Snyderwine handling the placekicking, it should remain a strength in 2011. Freshman Will Monday is expected to come in and compete with senior Alex King for the starting punter job, and it should be a good competition to watch in August.
Man, I thought it was going to be a short column this week. That never works out. If you’ve missed any of our recruiting coverage over the past month, be sure to catch up, as it is sure to be a sprint to the finish here in July. The entire class of 2011 will be on campus starting this weekend, and on behalf of all of us in the Blue Devil Nation, welcome to Duke! We have big expectations for this class, and we know they’ll have great success in Durham.
Some upcoming highlights to note – we will kickoff our 2011 previews next week with Richmond and Stanford, so be sure to check back for those. We’ll also run an in-depth interview with one of Duke’s top running back prospects this weekend, so check back in between fireworks shows. Be sure to join our Facebook group and follow us on Twitter. Have a great holiday weekend! Until next week, WE ARE DUKE.
In case you haven’t noticed, things tend to come in waves here at BDN Premium. With AAU coverage in full swing, we’re also entering the heat of the college football recruiting season. The Blue Devils have added another verbal commitment this week, and they’re just getting started. [private]
Class of 2012 up to 4
California LB Deion Williams joined TE Erich Schneider, DE Allen Jackson, and SAF Dwayne Norman as the first four verbal commitments in the class of 2012 this week. As a junior, Williams earned 2nd Team All-Trinity League honors, playing on both sides of the ball. Though Duke was his only offer to date, the coaching staff targeted Williams early on in the recruiting season and there’s reason to believe that they expect him to develop into a solid college player.
Back to the board
During the recent spring evaluation period, the Duke coaching staff was out in full force, scouting the country for players who will make an impact for their program. At the start of the evaluation period, Duke had extended around 50-60 offers. That number has now swelled to nearly 100, so let’s take another look at the recruiting board by position.
Let’s start with one of the positions of greatest need in 2012, after not bringing in a running back in 2011. Duke is up to 12 offers at running back, a good indication that they hope to take more than one in this class. Eleven of those prospects are still undecided, with J.C. Coleman, a Virginia Tech commit, being the lone exception. Dontonio Jordan is expected to announce his decision today, with most expecting his pick to be Kansas or Stanford. We’ve already heard from several of the remaining prospects, so we have some idea of where Duke stands with them: Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, l’Tavius Mathers and Nick Tompkins. Interviews with some of the new names will be posted this week.
The offensive linemen are widely considered to be the strength of the class of 2011, and Duke hopes that success continues in the class of 2012. So far, Coach Luke and the staff have come up empty, losing six offensive line prospects to other schools; most recently, Patrick DeStefano to Clemson and Max Tuerk to USC. There are eleven uncommitted offensive line prospects remaining on Duke’s board, and we will focus on this position in interviews next week.
It’s no secret that Duke needs to improve on defense, and recruiting well along the defensive front would go a long way towards that cause. With an athletic defensive end prospect in Allen Jackson already on board, Duke is looking at 8 additional defensive end prospects and 12 defensive tackle prospects. Of those offered, only two have committed elsewhere: Brent Wilkerson to Penn State and Matt Godin to Michigan. Again, a lot of these prospects aren’t new to us: Torey Agee, Korren Kirven, David Reader, Jordan Watkins, and Carlos Wray.
The Blue Devils added Deion Williams to the class of 2012 this week, and will look to add at least one additional linebacker in this class. Keilin Rayner remains at the top of the list, but Jeremiah Allison is a new west coast prospect that has entered the mix. We’ll hear from him this week as well.
After losing out on Ronald Darby to Notre Dame, Duke remains focused on a group of five cornerbacks, led by Larry Hope and Albert Reid.
Duke views Erich Schneider, the first commitment of the class of 2012, as a tight end prospect, but will need to add at least one more to build depth at the position with the graduation of Cooper Helfet and Danny Parker. While they lost out on Evan Baylis to Oregon, Duke remains aggressive with a group of elite tight ends, headlined by Dan Beilinson, Justin Meredith, Kent Taylor, and Colin Thompson.
The Duke offense remains attractive to elite wide receivers, and with All-ACC receivers Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon now upperclassmen, the Blue Devils will need to reload at the position in the class of 2012. Micheal Summers is an athlete we recently heard from who could fit nicely as a slot receiver, and Duke continues to pursue Jared Crump, Justin Johnson, and Max McCaffrey.
So now you’re asking, did he really mean quarterbacks? I thought Bilal Marshall was the only one with an offer. Well, here’s your reward for reading this far. Duke has extended an offer to Georgia QB Chris Moody, another dual-threat prospect in the class of 2012. Moody has offers from other ACC programs such as Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech, along with an offer from Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks. Here’s a highlight clip for those who want to see more.
For most of you, this is a holiday weekend, and we wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day. For those of us here at BDN Premium, it will be a busy weekend, and we hope you’ll come back for the best AAU and Duke football recruiting coverage around. WE ARE DUKE.
Does Major League Baseball still produce TWIB? I used to watch This Week In Baseball every weekend when I was a kid. Well, if MLB has TWIB, then BDN has TWIDF. BDN Premium’s Football Friday is your weekly look inside the world of Duke Football. It’s been a busy week in Durham, as the Blue Devils were recognized for their work in the classroom and also added a verbal commitment to the class of 2012.
Duke named among top 10 percent in APR
The NCAA honored the Duke football program, along with 14 other Duke teams, for placing among the top 10 percent in the multi-year Academic Progress Report. The APR is an attempt to provide a real-time evaluation of each student-athlete’s academic progress (as opposed to graduation rates, which are retrospective). While this kind of recognition has become expected among Duke teams, it’s still a great acommlishment. The Blue Devils were first in the ACC and second overall with 15 teams recognized; Notre Dame had 17 teams honored. As the Duke football program strives for excellence on the field, they also continue to excel in the classroom.
NCAA visits UNC, again
UNC defensive end Quinton Coples was spotted at a post-draft party in Washington, DC along with former teammates Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn in pictures posted on Facebook. This is either a complete non-story or a really big deal. Here’s why. If Coples paid his own way for the trip and related expenses, his attendance at the party is allowed by NCAA regulations (though ill-advised given UNC’s recent issues). If, however, Coples did not pay for any part of his trip to DC, Coples will likely be ruled ineligible for at least part of his senior season. Experts have Coples ranked among the top 5 NFL draft picks in 2012, so this could be another high-profile UNC player with eligibility issues. Given the similar infractions last year, the NCAA could have solid ground for strong sanctions against UNC. Stay tuned.
Duke receives third verbal commitmentfor 2012
As you know by now, Dwayne Norman committed to Duke on Wednesday night. The Blue Devils were the first to offer the 6’0” 185 pound strong safety prospect from University Christian in Jacksonville, Florida. Norman joins fellow Jacksonville native TE Erich Schneider and DE Allen Jackson as the first three members of Duke’s class of 2012. Thus far, all three prospects appear to be solid verbal commitments to the Blue Devils.
As for Norman, he’s a hard-hitting safety prospect who totaled over 70 tackles and an interception as a junior, while also lining up at wide receiver. His highlights can be viewed here. Norman finishes tackles very well and does an excellent job getting into the opposing backfield. He will need to improve his coverage skills to play at the college level, but has the speed (4.5 sec 40-yard dash) and athleticism (33 inch vertical) to make the transition.
New Blue Devils on campus
Several members of the class of 2011 moved on to campus and began their first college courses this week. The first summer semester began on Wednesday, and the Blue Devils will have 8 players enrolled for this term. Several of these players worked hard to finish up their final semester in high school early so that they could arrive on campus as early as possible. The remaining members of the class of 2011 will join them for the second summer term at the beginning of July. Fall training camp will open during the first week of August, at which time all members of the team are required to report to campus.
The players enrolled on campus are:
OG Cody Robinson 6’3” 290 pounds
OG Lucas Patrick 6’3” 305 pounds
CB Tim Burton 5’9” 170 pounds
CB Jared Boyd 5’9” 170 pounds
P Will Monday 6’4” 185 pounds
TE David Reeves 6’6” 245 pounds
WR Nick Hill 6’2” 200 pounds
LB Jon Woodruff 6’3” 205 pounds (January enrollee)
Duke to host Nike camp this weekend
Spring football is in full swing for most high school prospects, and that includes both spring football practices as well as combines and camps. On Sunday, Nike will hold an invitation-only football camp on Duke’s campus for top prospects in the class of 2012 and 2013. Needless to say, this is great exposure for the Duke program, and a testament to the recent improvements in Duke’s football facilities. With the indoor practice facility under construction, Duke’s commitment to football should be clear to prospects. Duke will host their own football camps the 2nd and 3rd week in June, but this camp is another great opportunity to get top prospects on Duke’s campus for unofficial visits.
Here’s the list of Nike Football Training Camps this spring:
March 27 Miami
April 3 USC
April 10 TCU
April 15 Georgia
April 17 Florida State
April 30 Penn State
May 1 Rutgers
May 7 Houston
May 15 Stanford
May 21 Ohio State
May 22 Duke
June 5 Oregon
June 19 Washington
Al Featherston does it again
If you’ve read this far, clearly Hooked on Phonics worked for you. Maybe you’re willing to read a little more. If so, we highly recommend the next installment of preview articles by Al Featherston at GoDuke. This week, Al speaks with Kurt Roper and analyzes what should be an improved running game for the 2011 Blue Devils.
That’s what’s happening in the world of Duke Football this week. Until next week, WE ARE DUKE. [/private]
Things are picking up at BDN Premium with exclusive interviews from the AAU circuit, Duke basketball team news, and Duke football recruiting. In addition to those perks, you also get Football Friday, so without further ado... Football Friday the 13th! [private]
Blue Devil Nation sends their condolences to the Alabama Crimson Tide and the family of OL Aaron Douglas, who passed away on Thursday in Florida. Needless to say, it has been a difficult offseason in Tuscaloosa, and our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the April storms and the tragic passing of this young man.
NFL lockout continues
With the NFL Draft now behind us, dozens of college seniors have been forced to put their future on hold while the NFL labor dispute continues. In past years, undrafted free agents typically receive contract offers or camp invites in the days immediately after the draft. This year, due to the lockout, undrafted players have been unable to contact teams, leaving their futures uncertain. This is a difficult time for Duke’s group of seniors who are hoping to make good on their NFL dreams. Abraham Kromah recently tweeted some of his frustration: “Notice it's only the vets with money and job security saying they are enjoying this lockout.” It’s in everyone’s best interest for the owners and players to reach an agreement; a cancelled or shortened season would be a huge mistake. For the sake of Duke’s seniors and others who are left with uncertain futures, we hope the two sides come together sooner rather than later.
First 3 kickoff times announced
The Blue Devils will open their season on Saturday, September 3rd with a 7PM kickoff against Richmond. Duke fans remember all too well the last time Duke and Richmond met under the lights in Wallace Wade Stadium, and a similar outcome would be a huge blow to the 2011 season. Under Coach Cutcliffe, Duke has hosted four straight night game home openers, with great crowds at the first three as part of Duke’s Annual Employee Appreciation Night. One of the defining moments early in the Cutcliffe era was the lightning-delayed home opener against James Madison, where much of the crowd of 32,561 waited out the storms to witness the program’s first win under Coach Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils will need that kind of support and enthusiasm in Wallace Wade Stadium this year as they take on another tough home schedule, highlighted by the September 10th game against Andrew Luck and Stanford, which is slated to kickoff at 3:30 PM and will be televised on ESPNU. After an early season conference road loss to Wake Forest in 2010, Duke will need to reverse their fortunes with a tough early season matchup with Boston College in Chestnut Hill on September 17, which will kickoff at 12:30 PM on the ACC Network.
September 3 Richmond 7:00 PM espn3.com
September 10 Stanford 3:30 PM ESPNU
September 17 @ Boston College 12:30 PM ACC
Recruiting moving along
The Blue Devils have secured two commitments early this recruiting season in TE Erich Schneider and DE Allen Jackson. For comparison, by the end of May in 2010, Duke had already received 5 verbal commitments and by the end of May in 2009, Duke had already received 4 verbal commitments. In both previous years, the majority of commitments were made in June and July, and the Blue Devils hope that will be the case again this year. The staff has been on the recruiting trail hard this spring, checking in with current recruits and scouting potential new prospects. With many high schools now in the middle of spring football practices, prospects are given an opportunity to showcase their offseason improvement to coaches in hopes of earning new scholarship offers. After spring practices wrap up, the next opportunity to impress college coaches will be the summer camp circuit. Duke will host its one-day camps on June 11th and 18th this year, with the David Cutcliffe QB College on June 16th and 17th.
It will be interesting to see how this recruiting season unravels, with written scholarship offers not sent out until August. Also, coming off a 3-win season, the Blue Devils have a lot to prove to prospective recruits, who want to play for a winning program. With a relatively small number of available scholarships this year, the Duke staff has been a little more selective than in previous years, focusing their efforts on several high-level prospects. All of these factors will come into play as Duke puts together the class of 2011. The Blue Devils are close to having the facilities, staff, and education to compete with any program in the country, but still need to improve in wins, fan support, and NFL alumni.
Just a few updates on the recruiting front:
DL Matt Godin committed to Michigan on Thursday. He visited Duke earlier this year and the Blue Devils were initially high on his list. Unfortunately, Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin ended up offering the Michigan native, and it became nearly impossible for any school to lure him out of his home state.
TE Evan Baylis committed to Oregon recently. After originally planning to make his decision over the summer, he decided the offer from the Ducks was too good to pass up.
DE Torey Agee received an offer from Stanford this week. Duke and South Alabama were the first to offer the Opelika, AL native, who plans to visit Durham this summer. With Stanford now in the mix, this recruitment has immediately become more competitive. Duke and Stanford are battling for a few prospects already (Dontonio Jordan, Albert Reid), so it will be interesting to see if the Cardinal can continue their success in the post-Harbaugh era.
Prospect interviews will start up again next week. Please feel free to chime in on the message board on any prospects you’d like to hear from. We’ll start to check back in with several of the prospects we spoke with earlier this year to see how their spring has gone and where they are in their recruiting process. Here’s to a great week! WE ARE DUKE.
We hope you all had a great Cinco de Mayo. We certainly did. Anyway, with the surprising retirement of Gary Williams and the spring signing period wrapping up, we understand that you’ve been distracted this week, but that’s no excuse for not joining BDN Premium so that you can get your inside look at Duke athletics. Also, if you don’t have BDN Premium, then you can’t read Football Friday, which means that this is the end of the ride for you. Cue the Oompa Loompas! [private]
You didn’t know you were going to be assigned homework when you started reading this article, did you? Too bad. I’ll keep this week’s article short so that you will have time to complete the following assigned reading.
When I first started writing this column, I intended to include a section of noteworthy links each week, and to this point, I haven’t really followed through on that idea, mostly because there hasn’t been much to read this offseason. This week, however, I came across two important articles to read. As most of you know, Al Featherston is a great friend to BDN and also one of the most knowledgeable Duke writers around. This spring, we’ve touched briefly on some of the hopes and concerns for the new Duke defense, but not nearly to the depth of Al’s recent article for GoDuke. It’s a must read for Duke football fans, and gives some insight into the strategy Duke will apply this fall, straight from the mouth of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The 4-2-5 defense is an interesting strategy that is based on the concept that speed will be a strength for the Blue Devils. It also should be noted that TCU is one of the more successful programs to implement a 4-2-5 defensive scheme.
The second development this week is the letter sent from the Justice Department to the NCAA regarding the BCS system. While there may not be a formal investigation into the BCS at this time, the letter clearly outlines the potential antitrust issues. The questions raised by the letter should be thought-provoking to the NCAA and college football fans. What are the advantages of the BCS for schools, student-athletes, and fans? What are its disadvantages? And of course, what might an alternative system look like, and how would that affect a program like Duke? Sounds like great material for the message board.
Duke recruiting genetics?
In recent years, the Duke men’s basketball program has enjoyed the benefits of genetics – Gerald Henderson, Nolan Smith, Seth Curry, and Austin Rivers are all the sons of former NBA stars. In the class of 2012, the Duke football program is targeting a group of football legacies, hoping that at least part of NFL stardom is genetic.
Patrick DeStefano: the 6’4” 275 pound offensive lineman from Roebuck, South Carolina is the son of former Blue Devil and NFL offensive lineman Frank DeStefano. The versatile prospect is one of the hardest workers in the class of 2012 and plans to lead Dorman back to the state championship this fall. With over a dozen scholarship offers, DeStefano has his choice of ACC and SEC schools, and plans to narrow his list down later this spring.
Max McCaffery: the 6’2” 180 pound wide receiver prospect from Highlands Ranch, Colorado is the son of former NFL and Stanford WR Ed McCaffrey, Max is also the nephew of former Duke men’s basketball player Billy McCaffrey, who transferred to Vanderbilt after the 1991 National Championship. Max and his younger brother, Christian (a rising sophomore running back) will look to lead Valor Christian to their third state championship this fall. Max currently has scholarship offers from Duke, Wake Forest, and Arizona State.
Woody Baron: the 6’3” 250 pound defensive end prospect from Brentwood, Tennessee is the nephew of former Virginia Tech defensive tackle James Baron, who later played briefly in the NFL and for several years in the AFL. A 2011 Finalist for Mr. Football in Tennessee, Woody finished his junior year with 50 tackles and 17 sacks at Brentwood Academy. With family ties to Virginia Tech, the Hokies may be tough to beat in this recruitment, but Duke was one of the first schools to offer the top prospect.
Torey Agee: the 6’4” 247 pound defensive end prospect from Opelika, Alabama is the son of former Auburn star fullback Tommie Agee. A talented run-stopper, Torey hopes to work on his pass rush this fall at Opelika. The Blue Devils joined South Alabama as the first to offer the talented junior, who now has 5 scholarship offers and interest from Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Nick Davidson: the 6’7” 270 pound offensive lineman from Eden Prarie, Minnesota is the son of former Ohio State and NFL lineman Jeff Davidson. Nick moved to Minnesota this spring from Charlotte, North Carolina, after his father left the Carolina Panthers to become the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings. With 14 scholarship offers already, Nick will have his choice of schools throughout the country, though he's still waiting for an Ohio State offer.
With high school spring practices kicking off across the country, the Duke staff has been busy on the recruiting trail. We’ll have lots of recruiting coverage coming up next week, so be sure to check back in with Blue Devil Nation. As for the current Blue Devil team, we wish them best of luck as they wrap up their finals and take a well-deserved break. Of course, we also with the seniors well as they prepare to graduate on May 15. Duke’s first summer session begins on May 18 and several members of the class of 2011 will be on campus for the first time.
We promised a short column so that you could get to your assigned reading. Have a great week and be sure to chime in on the 4-2-5 defense or the BCS on the BDN premium message board. WE ARE DUKE.