The Duke Blue Devils held their last talk with the media before Saturday's season opener with Florida International, and BDN caught up to cornerback Ross Cockrell and offensive lineman Takoby Cofield for a chat. With Matt Daniels having moved on, Cockrell will be expected to bring leadership to this year's squad, and Cofield will be key in taking on the tough Panthers defensive ends.
With the addition of veteran Defensive Line Coach Rick Petri this offseason, expectations are high for the Blue Devils’ defensive line in 2011 and beyond. Prior to his arrival in Durham, Coach Petri has tutored some of the top units in the country at Miami, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and South Carolina. Throughout his career, Coach Petri has mentored numerous All-SEC and All-ACC defensive linemen, including NFL stars such as Warren Sapp and John Abraham. With a young group of athletic defensive linemen already in Durham, Coach Petri and the Duke coaching staff are looking to bring in potential impact players in the class of 2012. With three talented prospects already verbally committed, Duke is focusing their recruiting efforts on a handful of top recruits, including a big-time run-stopper from Alabama. Torey Agee is a 6’4” 250 pound defensive end from Opelika, AL and the son of former Auburn star Tommie Agee. Since we last spoke with Torey, he’s earned scholarship offers from several top schools, including Stanford and Vanderbilt. The star student-athlete was in Durham this past weekend and caught up with BDN to give his thoughts on his visit. [private]
BDN: Which schools have been recruiting you the hardest this spring and summer?
At this point, the schools that have really be in contact with me besides Duke have been Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Southern Miss, and Auburn.
BDN: Which schools have you had a chance to visit recently?
So far I’ve only had a chance to visit Georgia Tech and Duke, but I have plans for other visits later on this summer.
BDN: Do you know which schools you are planning to visit, or is that still up in the air?
I know I’m going to Vanderbilt and I’m probably going to go to camps at Auburn and Troy.
BDN: How did your visits to Duke and Georgia Tech go?
Both those schools are great, they have exactly what I’m looking for and that’s a strong academic program, so it’s right up my alley. Both campuses are beautiful, the football teams are good, the coaches are great, it was just a wonderful trip.
BDN: Since it’s fresh in your mind, can you talk a little about your visit to Duke this weekend?
The Duke visit was great. We toured the whole campus and met some of the coaches and some of the players and they told me what it would be like in a typical day if I became a Blue Devil. It was great, you know, I’m still kind of taking it all in.
BDN: Last time we spoke, you were taking your time with the process. Now that you’ve taken a few visits, do you know how or when you want to start to narrow things down?
No, I’m still pretty much taking my time, like I said, I don’t really want to rush into anything, so I’m just taking it slow this summer, visiting a bunch of places and trying to get my thoughts together before I pick a school to go to.
BDN: Thanks a lot, Torey, and we look forward to hearing from you again soon.
With the impending graduation of Cooper Helfet and Danny Parker, Duke is looking to reload at the tight end position in the class of 2012. On Saturday, the Blue Devils did that, securing a commitment from top in-state TE Dan Beilinson. Beilinson is a 6’5” 220 pound prospect from Panther Creek HS in Cary. As a junior, Beilinson caught 37 passes for over 500 yards, helping Panther Creek to a conference title and the state regional playoffs. His performance earned him 1st Team Tri-Nine All-Conference, among many other accolades. Highlights from Dan’s junior year can be viewed here. Beilinson chose the Blue Devils over offers from NC State, Wake Forest, Miami, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Indiana, and ECU. Along with another verbal commitment, Erich Schneider, Beilinson has helped Duke successfully reload at tight end in 2012.
Welcome to Duke, Dan!
BDN caught up with Dan shortly after his commitment on Saturday.
BDN: How did you come to your decision to commit to Duke today?
Ok, yeah I guess I just decided to commit today, it was just kind of a gut feeling. I asked myself where I wanted to go and I said Duke and it just felt right.
BDN: How did you let the coaches know and what did they have to say to you?
I gave Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Middleton a phone call and they were both really excited, and I’m really excited right now as well and hopefully we’ll have a good time working together.
BDN: Now that you’ve got your decision out of the way, what are your plans for the rest of your summer?
I don’t really have any plans, just going to go to school workouts and focus on my senior year now.
BDN: Well best of luck with your senior year and I know Duke fans are excited to have you part of the Blue Devil family. Thanks a lot and congratulations on your commitment.
While Duke worked 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. The Duke staff has targeted an elite group of defensive backs who already have received verbal scholarship offers from the Blue Devils, among several other top programs. The Blue Devils added a quality cornerback from Florida in the class of 2011 in Tim Burton, and hope to do the same in the class of 2012. One of the most recent prospects to pick up a verbal scholarship offer is Larry Hope, a 5’11” 167 pound prospect from Miami, Florida.
BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?
Well, I think, college coaches say they like about me is that I’m the best man-to-man coverage player that they’ve seen. I’m good for my height, I’m a very big player, strong and physical, and very fast. When it comes down to shutting down a receiver, I think I’m the guy. But I like my actions to speak for themselves.
BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?
I’m working on getting stronger. I’m in the weight room every single day, even on weekdays, weekends I’m outside trying to get faster. We’re trying to get faster and stronger.
BDN: What are some of your goals for yourself and your team in your senior season?
As a team, I want to come together and bond so we can have a better year than last year and hopefully make it to the playoffs. Me, I just want to do what I’ve been doing, come out there and play my role as I’ve been doing.
BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?
I’m looking for a family bond and someone that can help me become a better player for the next level, because that’s what everybody wants to do. But I’m looking for a family bond, someone that’s like a father figure at college, and most of the colleges that I’ve been talking to that have offered me, has been that. They call me, I call them, and we talk on a daily basis, get that family bond. They mostly are defensive back coaches, and mostly played DB at the next level, so that’s what I’m looking for.
BDN: Which schools have you in contact with the most, and which schools have extended verbal offers?
I have seven offers from Wisconsin, Buffalo, Nebraska, USF, Louisville, Duke, and Kansas. West Virginia and Miami, Florida State, and Florida, they all want to come to my spring practice – Ole Miss and North Carolina are all coming to my spring practice, sometime around the first of May or the first week in May.
BDN: Have you had a chance to take any visits this spring?
In the summer I plan on visiting all the colleges that have offered me. When it comes to visits, so far I’ve visited Miami, Florida State, and Florida, and USF and UCF, and that’s it.
BDN: Have any schools impressed you or surprised you at this point in the process, either on your visits or your contact with coaches?
Well, no, all the colleges that have offered me are trying to impress me, so not yet.
BDN: Do you have an idea for how or when you would like to narrow your list of schools down and ultimately make a decision?
Me and my dad are weighing my options and just sitting back and relaxing. We’re trying to gain that bond, if I feel like I’m comfortable with a school, there’s no time limit on when I’ll decide.
BDN: Is there anything else you think is important for college football fans to know about you?
I feel like I’m more loyal to football now. Everything revolves around football and I’m working harder than I’ve ever been working, and I like what I’ve been seeing and I’m going to keep putting more into my craft.
BDN: Thanks a lot, Larry, and best of luck to you.