Tag Archives: BDN Football

Duke receiver Brandon Braxton has made the switch to safety this spring

Brandon Braxton updates BDN on his transition to safety

Duke receiver Brandon Braxton has made the switch to safety this spring

The goal this offseason has been on finding the “best 22″ players to put on the field for the Blue Devils. Inevitably, this forces the Duke coaching staff to make some creative and difficult decisions to realize this goal. One of the most prominent changes this spring has involved Brandon Braxton, a once promising wide receiver who has selflessly made the switch to safety. Braxton’s strong play on special teams the past two seasons exemplified some of his potential as a defender and tackler, but the learning curve for Coach Knowles’ defense is steep. BDN caught up with Brandon after spring practice last week to get an update on his transition.

BDN: How did the decision to switch positions come about?

I had originally heard through the grapevine that they were switching me to defense. I gave Coach Cut a call and went and met with him, and it wasn’t for sure or anything at that point, and he said that they had been thinking about it. I told him I would be willing to switch if they thought that would improve our team, and I ended up switching and so far I like it a lot. 

BDN: How do you feel your skill set fits on the defensive side of the ball?

I like the defensive side of the ball because it allows me to react instead of having a set play, so I definitely like that about defense. I also just like flying around and reading, so that’s probably my favorite part about defense.

BDN: You’ve played quite a bit on special teams over the past two seasons, so you’ve had some experience with tackling, but what have you found to be the hardest adjustment to playing defense so far this spring?

There really hasn’t been any really hard thing to pick up, but just learning the defense and knowing checks and seeing different things. Just being comfortable at safety is definitely a huge change from what I have been doing and what I’m used to. I feel like I’m a freshman all over again, learning a whole new system and getting back in the swing of things of college football. I haven’t played defense since junior year of high school, but so far I’m picking it up really fast and feel like every day I’m progressing.

BDN: Now that you’re on the other side of the ball, who’s the toughest receiver to matchup with in practice?

All of them are really good, honestly. Blair Holliday has been playing great. Jamison [Crowder] has been playing really good. Conner [Vernon], everyone already knows that Conner is a stud. Nick Hill is a new and upcoming redshirt-freshman and he’s been playing really good. All of them, really, there isn’t one that I can pinpoint that’s super difficult, they all have different attributes and different things that they bring to the wide receiver.

BDN: You may feel like a freshman all over again, but you’re actually entering your third year with the program. What’s your assessment of the team this spring, compared to when you first arrived at Duke?

This spring, well I’ve only been through two springs, but there was such a period when losing was acceptable, and I think that that whole air and people that were here when that was happening is gone. My teammates now don’t accept losing as an option. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve seen. We’ve all been working really hard and the coaches have been pushing us, and we’re all up to the challenge.

BDN: The secondary is obviously a key to Coach Knowles’ defense. Can you talk a little about some of the players that have impressed you and helped you make your transition?

All of them – Walt [Canty], Jordon [Byas], Anthony Young-Wiseman, they’re all veterans and they’ve all been here awhile. Ross Cockrell, we’re usually on the same side, and he’s been helping me a lot and he’s progressed immensely at the corner position. He’s turned into one heck of a cornerback. They’ve all done their part in helping me pick it up faster and teaching me tricks of the trade and making sure I do well.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Brandon, and best of luck this spring.

Alright, Patrick, thank you so much.

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

Renfree’s Three Touchdowns Pace Blue Devils

TE Issac Blakeney hauled in a 71-yard TD from Sean Renfree on Saturday.

DURHAM, N.C. – Quarterback Sean Renfree completed 14-of-17 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns to highlight Duke’s 80-play gridiron scrimmage on Saturday morning in the Pascal Field House.

Renfree’s first two scoring strikes of the day went to tight ends David Reeves (30 yards) and Issac Blakeney (71 yards) before he found wideout Blair Holliday for a nine-yard touchdown.  Five of Renfree’s completions went for 15 or more yards as the rising redshirt senior averaged 15.7 yards per completion.

Wideout Corey Gattis led all receivers with six catches for 81 yards including a 42-yard touchdown from quarterback Thomas Sirk.  Holliday finished with five receptions for 65 yards while Reeves had three grabs for 51 yards.  Sirk enjoyed the morning by completing five-of-nine throws for 75 yards, rushing four times for 54 yards and catching a pair of passes for 25 yards.

Quarterback Sean Schroeder hit on five-of-nine passes for 46 yards while rushing three times for 41 yards.  Running back Josh Snead carried the ball seven times for 27 yards while Juwan Thompson contributed a three-yard touchdown run.

Safety Jordon Byas paced the Blue Devil defense with one quarterback sack and one pass break-up.  Nose guard Jamal Bruce, safety Walt Canty and linebacker Austin Gamble each registered one tackle for loss while cornerback Garett Patterson logged two pass break-ups.

Duke will host the program’s annual Spring Game presented by PNC Bank on Saturday, March 31 at Wallace Wade Stadium.  Kick-off is set for 1 p.m., and admission is free of charge.

CB Evrett Edwards took his official visit this weekend and will enroll with Quay Mann and Parker Boehme in January.

Virginia CB Evrett Edwards commits to Duke

CB Evrett Edwards is the type of star student-athlete Coach Cutcliffe wants at Duke

Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff received their 3rd verbal commitment in the class of 2013 on Wednesday from Virginia CB Evrett Edwards. Edwards is a 5’11″ 175 pound cornerback prospect from Woodbridge HS in Woodbridge, VA. Though he didn’t start playing football until 8th grade, Edwards was a quick study, learning from his uncle, Benny Guilbeaux, a former safety at Notre Dame. By his junior year in 2011, Edwards earned 1st Team All-District honors, totaling 38 tackles, 6 interceptions, 4 pass break-ups, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked field goals, and 1 blocked punt. The speedy prospect has seen his recruitment take off in recent weeks, and he chose the Blue Devils over scholarship offers from Boston College, Illinois, Ohio, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. He picked up his Duke scholarship offer on a March 17th visit to Durham and caught up with BDN shortly afterwards. He updated BDN today on his decision to commit to Duke.

 

BDN: Can you tell us about the decision you made today?

I called Coach Cutcliffe around 2:30 and told him I wanted to be a Blue Devil and I wanted to play for him after I finish high school.

BDN: What did Coach Cutcliffe have to say to you?

We were both very excited. He was proud. He was glad that I called him first, he was very glad about that. He let my position coach and my recruiting coach know.

BDN: I know that your family was involved in your decision; are they excited for you as well?

Yes, very much so!

BDN: What was it that ultimately led to your decision to commit to Duke today?

The fact that – the relationships there. I did my research on the school, I didn’t do what most players do and look at uniforms and what not, I looked at the endowment, what I can do for the school and what the school can do for me, and I really liked that. And just the relationships – the conversation that I had with Coach Cutcliffe, it was very big in my decision.

BDN: I’m sure Duke fans will be excited to hear from you; is there anything you want to let them know?

Go Duke!

BDN: Alright, thanks a lot Evrett and congratulations!

Thank you!

Photo copyright Alamo Sports Photography

Duke first to offer Texas OL Sterling Korona

Duke is the first to offer Texas OL Sterling Korona - Photo copyright Alamo Sports Photography

Are the Blue Devils building a pipeline of offensive linemen from Texas? Last year, the Blue Devils signed an athletic offensive line prospect from the state of Texas in 6’6″ 255 pound Tanner Stone. Over this past weekend, Duke added another big Texan in 6’4″ 295 pound Austin Davis. Offensive Line Coach Latina is hoping to keep the pipeline flowing and add another top prospect from the state in 6’7″ 250 pound Sterling Korona from Reagan High School in San Antonio. The hard-working offensive line prospect is receiving plenty of interest from Big 12 schools, but recently picked up his first scholarship offer from the Blue Devils. BDN checked in with Sterling to find out more about his recruitment. [private]

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

In terms of my strength, I think some of my biggest strengths are that I’m very technical with everything I do. Everything is technique, technique, technique. The better technique you have, the better it works out for your strengths and weaknesses, it comes with the technique, as long as you have better technique, it strengthens everything. In terms of what I want to bring to the college level, I think I can bring my work ethic, I pride myself on it. I think with work ethic, everything can be gained through work ethic as long as you keep working and keep getting stronger, everything will get better with time and if you keep working at it, you’ll be in good shape.

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

My biggest things are gaining weight, getting stronger and faster. Improving the bond between my teammates and me, just working on getting a strong bond and a strong team together, hoping to make a bigger run than we did last year. My biggest things that I’m working on now are just my strength, my quickness, and my overall size and mass.

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

Well, it all comes first with education. The better the education, the more I’m inclined to look into a school as someplace I want to go. And then obviously, great with football. Some of the biggest things are like when I’ve talked with Coach Roper, he’s been very helpful with me, he’s been a great guy, he’s always willing to answer any questions I have and help me with anything I need. Having a great support system around, it just really helps you.

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

I have received interest from Texas State, [Texas] A&M, Texas Tech, UTSA, Houston, Kansas State Illinois, Yale, Princeton, basically that’s some of them. Duke has offered me and others have been talking about it and others have been implying it. But mostly Duke has told me that they’ve offered me and they want to get me up there. With some other schools it’s the same, but mostly Duke is the biggest of all of them right now.

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

I’ve visited Texas Tech and [Texas] A&M. I’m going to visit UTSA, Houston in a few days, probably Kansas State and some other Big 12 schools, but those are just a few.

BDN: You’re obviously in the heart of Big 12 country in Texas. How much of a factor will location be when you make your decision?

Well, we’ve always been very family-oriented, but if the opportunity presents itself and the scholarship is there and the academics is there and the athletics is there, I’ll be inclined to go wherever I feel I have the best opportunity.

BDN: It’s still early in the process, but are there any schools that have stood out to you at this point, or do you have a rough ranking in your head?

I think Duke has to be number one at this point. I’d probably put Houston next, followed by Texas Tech and Texas A&M and then UTSA.

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

Well, to me I think it would probably be better for me to visit with people, see all the sides from people in my family and stuff like that, probably would be better for me to wait closer to Signing Day to bring all the facts and all the situations together and then make the best decision.

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

Thank you.

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Sterling’s highlights can be viewed here.

CB Evrett Edwards took his official visit this weekend and will enroll with Quay Mann and Parker Boehme in January.

Woodbridge (VA) DB Evrett Edwards picks up an offer on his visit to Duke

DB Evrett Edwards is the type of star student-athlete Coach Cutcliffe wants at Duke

During Coach Cutcliffe’s revitalization of Duke football, he has maintained the program’s reputation for featuring the top student-athletes in the ACC. A year ago, the program led the ACC with 19 Academic All-Conference selections, more than three times any other ACC program. The goal is to match that success in the classroom with the results on the field, and ultimately, that effort starts on the recruiting trail. This weekend, Coach Cutcliffe extended a scholarship offer to a top student-athlete from Virginia, who he hopes can help the Blue Devils continue to build their success both in the classroom and on the field.

Evrett Edwards is a 5’11” 175 pound cornerback prospect from Woodbridge HS in Woodbridge, VA. Though he didn’t start playing football until 8th grade, Edwards was a quick study, learning from his uncle, Benny Guilbeaux, a former safety at Notre Dame. By his junior year in 2011, Edwards earned 1st Team All-District honors, totaling 38 tackles, 6 interceptions, 4 pass break-ups, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked field goals, and 1 blocked punt. The speedy prospect has seen his recruitment take off in recent weeks, and he now holds 6 scholarship offers from Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Ohio, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. BDN caught up with Evrett shortly after his unofficial visit to Duke on March 17. [private]

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

My understanding for the game. I’ve been told that I have a very high football IQ. I use that to my advantage. I study a lot of film, I study so much film to the point where I know if they run a certain play, I know what their whole drive will consist of. My footwork, I play soccer, so at my position footwork is a big deal. My quickness and my speed, I run a 4.42 [second] 40 [yard dash] and 3.91 [second] 20-yard shuttle.

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

First of all, better myself. Second of all, better the people around me, and through that, obtain a state championship.

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

I’m looking for a school that will last with me for 40 years. I understand that football is going to be finished at some point, and whenever football is done with me and I’m done with football, I need a degree from a school that is going to mean something in the business world. So, a 40-year, not a 4-year school.

BDN: Is business something you want to study in college?

International Business.

BDN: Where do you stand with offers and visits now?

I have 6 offers, most recent came from Duke yesterday. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I got one from Wake Forest. On Friday, last week, was West Virginia. Thursday last week was Boston College and Wednesday last week was Ohio. Two or three weeks ago, my first offer came from Illinois.

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

I’ve visited Duke and UVA thus far. I’m really trying to plan a visit to West Virginia and then April 13th I’m going to Northwestern, they’re interested and talking about a possible offer. On the 14th I’m going to the University of Illinois.

BDN: Can you talk a little bit about your visits to UVA and Duke and what stood out to you about those schools?

Virginia, I talked to Coach Poindexter and he invited me to their Junior Day so we went down and visited, sat down and went over some film with Coach West, nothing serious. Duke, I’ve been in contact with Coach Roper for quite some time now, I went to spring practice, liked what I saw, had a chance to see the position coaches, watched film with them in a meeting, and then at the end of the day, Coach Cutcliffe called me into his office along with my parents. He told me he wanted to extend me an offer and thought that I would be a perfect fit for this school with my upbringing from my parents and how it’s hard to find true student-athletes that excel both in the classroom and on the field, and he really liked that about me.

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

I had been saying November/December, but now, after the way things have been going the past couple of weeks, I really don’t have a timeframe. I’ve prayed about it with my parents and when I get that feeling, I’m going to make the phone call and drive or fly to whatever school and talk to the coach.

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

Alright, thank you.

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Peter-Kalambayi-3-12-12

ESPNU150 Watch List LB Peter Kalambayi recaps recent visit to Duke

Butler HS LB Peter Kalambayi registered 80 tackles and 6 sacks as a junior

Duke Assistant Coach Jim Collins is quietly building a tradition of quality linebackers in Durham. The Blue Devil linebacker alumni are headlined by recent standouts such as Mike Tauiliili (All-ACC), Vincent Rey of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Abraham Kromah of the CFL. Over the past two seasons, the Blue Devil linebackers have been led by standout freshmen in Freshman All-American Kelby Brown in 2010 and All-ACC Academic selection David Helton in 2011. With the recent signing day addition of talented in-state LB Keilin Rayner, the Blue Devils hope that trend will continue in 2012 and beyond. In the class of 2013, one elite LB has quickly risen to the top of Duke’s wish list. Peter Kalambayi is a 6’2″ 230 pound prospect from Butler High School in Matthews, NC. A member of the ESPNU150 Watch List, Kalambayi has already amassed over 20 scholarship offers. With 80 tackles and 6 sacks as a junior, Kalambayi has established himself as one of the top players in the class of 2013 in the state, and with a 4.3 GPA, he’s also the star student that could excel in Durham. BDN caught up with the elite student-athlete after his visit to Duke for the UNC basketball game on March 4. [private]

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

I have really good speed and pass-rushing ability.

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

My hands and my quickness, overall quickness.

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

A school with a consistently good football program and a great academic school as well.

BDN: Do you have any ideas for what you might want to study in college?

No, not yet.

BDN: Where do you stand with offers and which schools are you hearing from the most?

I think I have 21 [offers]. Clemson, UNC, Stanford, Duke, UVA, they’re recruiting me pretty hard right now.

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

Duke, UNC, and UVA.

BDN: What stood out to you on your visits to those schools?

All 3 are good schools. UVA, I only went once. UNC, I went multiple times. Duke, I went multiple times. They’re all just great schools. Duke’s football program is developing, but UVA and UNC have great football programs and I like them all.

BDN: Are there any coaches you have started to develop a close relationship with?

Coach Brown from UVA, Coach Brewer from UNC, and Coach Cutcliffe from Duke.

BDN: Are there any other schools you plan to visit or would like to hear from?

I have no plans, but I want to visit Clemson and Stanford sometime before next year.

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

Probably after football season. I don’t know, I guess I’ll start narrowing it down before my season.

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

Thanks.

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