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Duke hopes that Kelby (left) and Kyler (right) Brown will anchor the 2011 linebackers

Kyler Brown recaps his senior year and gives his thoughts on Duke

Kelby and Kyler Brown

In 2010, freshman linebacker Kelby Brown was one of the brightest stars on the Duke defense, finishing the season 3rd on the team in tackles, 2nd in sacks, and leading the ACC with four fumble recoveries. Unfortunately, Kelby’s season was cut short by a knee injury, but after a successful offseason surgery, the Blue Devils plan for him to be ready for the season opener against Richmond on September 3.

Duke fans are hoping to see Kelby joined on the field by his brother, Kyler, a 6’4” 215 pound defensive prospect from Charlotte Christian High School. With the recent departure of co-defensive coordinator Marion Hobby, some fans have feared that Duke’s 2011 defensive prospects may begin to look elsewhere. Blue Devil Nation recently spoke with Kyler to learn about his senior season and where he stands with his commitment to Duke.

BDN: Can you give us a brief recap of your senior season?

I felt like we had a pretty good season. Even though we finished 6-5, the games that we lost were all really close except for one. We did pretty well and I did pretty well. The other teams ran away from me a lot, but I still did get some tackles in, I think I got 103, so it was a pretty good year and lots of fun.

 BDN: In what areas do you think you improved the most from your junior to senior year?

I think, well, we had great coaches and everything in high school even. They taught me a lot this year and I’ve been getting a lot of fundamentals down and stuff. I still need to learn that obviously, because I mean everybody does. Also, just my knowledge for the game is increasing. I watched a lot of film this year of the other teams and of myself and the rest of my team. My knowledge has increased a lot. Also, my strength – I’ve gotten a lot better on that with lifting and everything.

Kyler Brown finished with 103 tackles for Charlotte Christian

BDN: How much were you able to follow your brother and the Duke program and what are your thoughts on their season?

Well, I thought it was not as good as we’d hoped, but I mean, I can count off at least five games that we lost that were all really close. I think four of those we definitely should have won, and it just came down to either the last second or some mistakes in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, we had a great year, I thought. The coaches are doing wonders in upgrading the team and improving Duke football.

 BDN: Can you talk a little about your relationship with the coaching staff and how much you’ve been in contact with them?

I’ve been up to Duke a couple times, I actually don’t know how many times exactly, but I’ve seen all the coaches there. And I’ve also had the coaches come to visit and we had a good time, good talks and everything. My relationship with Coach Cut is awesome, he’s a great coach. My recruiting coordinator is Coach Lubick and he’s been great.

 BDN: What are some of the things you’ve talked to the coaching staff about? What do you expect your role to be on the Duke defense?

As far as redshirts go, we don’t know whether I’m going to be able to redshirt or not. It was the same thing with my brother last year, they had no clue. They decided at the beginning of the year that they were going to redshirt him, but keep him around in case they needed him. He eventually made his way to starting, so you never know. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m either going to be a defensive end or an outside linebacker, or maybe just a dropdown linebacker or a pullback defensive end – just more of a hybrid of those two positions. I’ll be able to mix in between those two.

 

BDN: You mentioned your brother and I know Duke fans were excited with the season he had for Duke. What have you been able to learn from his experience and what to expect as you make the transition to the college game?

Speed. He mentioned how fast it is compared to high school and that you just have to give it your all every single play. You have to be able to just play fast, even if you don’t react fast enough, you just have to deal with it and adjust. Also, a big thing is just shedding blockers at linebacker and at defensive end. He’s talked about how you just have to be quicker than them, have better hands than them, and just keep them off you as much as you can. It’s all just great advice from him.

 BDN: What are your plans between now and signing day and for the rest of your senior year?

Well, right now I’m not playing a sport. I’m just lifting hard, as hard as I can, getting strong and keeping my conditioning up. Playing basketball a little bit, playing some pick up games, and really not much besides that. The big thing is lifting right now and I’m also putting on weight, so that’s also good. For visits, they have a banquet for the football players this weekend, so I’m going up there for my brother and with the team and do that. I think we’re going to go to a [Duke] basketball game and then later I’m going to go to the NC State basketball game with one of the kids in my class.

 

BDN: When are you planning to enroll at Duke?

I’m thinking about more of the second shift at the beginning of July.

 

BDN: I know Duke fans are really looking forward to it. Thanks a lot, Kyler. Safe travels to Durham and best of luck with the rest of your senior year.

Alright. Thank you, good talking with you.

 

The Blue Devils will host several prospects on official visits this weekend and BDN will have more football coverage coming all next week.

2011 Commit Chris Tavarez Updates BDN on his Official Visit and Senior Year

Happy New Year, Blue Devil Nation! 2011 will be an important year for Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devil football program, as they look to continue their rebuilding effort and bring Duke to its first bowl game since 1994. While Duke will return a number of talented players on both sides of the ball, the 2011 recruiting class also features an impressive group of athletes that will bolster the depth at several positions. It is no secret that the Duke defensive secondary struggled in 2010, and the class of 2011 will add 3 players who expect to fight for playing time in the backfield as true freshmen. Among these is Chris Tavarez, a 5’11” safety out of Atlanta, Georgia. Chris was in Durham on an official visit in December and caught up with Blue Devil Nation afterwards.

BDN: Can you briefly recap your official visit to Duke?

I went down there with all of the other committed players and a few of them that weren’t committed and I had a lot of fun. My host was Matt Daniels, who is the starting strong safety, which I’m trying to play at Duke, and also the leading tackler. That was cool to see, you know, from a leader’s standpoint; I got to ask him questions and see how he likes Duke and his experiences, and even the bad parts about Duke, what he doesn’t like or what he wishes he could change, what he wants to improve on. That was cool, he was a great host. We ate a whole bunch, we ate a lot, probably four times a day, which is great because I’m always hungry and I’m always stressing to my parents that I’ve got to eat. It was fun and I learned a lot. I got to meet with a business major and talk to him, because I’m planning on either being a business major or a sociology major, so I got to talk to the business major and that was great to get his insight and his points. I think the most important part for me was that I got to talk to the safeties coach, Coach Knowles, and we broke down film and we got on board and he explained to me that I would best at playing the rover position at safety, and broke down every position in the defense. He told me what my best assets were and what Duke needed me for basically. I loved it, it was a great time, I got to talk to Coach Cutcliffe, the head coach, and yeah, everything was good.

BDN: There were some other commits in the secondary on campus that weekend. Can you talk about your relationship with them?

I was with Tim Burton and Jared Boyd. That was my first time meeting Tim, but I had met Jared, because Jared plays for Stephenson, a school – actually a powerhouse – over here in Georgia. He’s one of the best d-backs in Georgia, so I’ve met him through combines and we’ve played each other, and they really gave it to us, they killed us. [Laughs] Yeah, though, I actually met Jared at a combine at Georgia Tech, so that was cool to kind of be in competition with someone and then realize that he’s going to the same school as you. So that’s good to know we’re going to be on the same team. I met Tim, who I had heard a lot about Tim going into the official. I heard that he was probably one of the fastest recruits that we’ve got, so that’s good because speed is always needed. He’s a small guy, but what I love about Tim is that he talks a big game. Usually people that talk a big game have to bring some results after it, they have to bring some skill, so I love those guys, because I’m like that. I’m really talkative on the field, always trying to hype my boys up, always trying to make the next play, so I think that’s what we really need in 2011 and that’s going to be a great asset on the football field. I’m really psyched about our secondary, I think we’re going to look strong – all three of us have the potential to start and play as freshmen.

BDN: How much were you able to follow Duke’s season and where do you think the program is headed?

Duke’s 2010 season, it wasn’t all that, obviously. I think that we could have won a lot of games, we could have won at least 5 of those games that we lost. A lot of those games were lost by a touchdown or below, so it’s not like we’re just getting pummeled by these teams. It was just the little mistakes, I mean, we’re a young team and it’s the little mistakes that we’re making that didn’t get us the victory. I think with a lot of changes and with the recruits, we can definitely be top ACC contenders. I give us, probably two years, and we’ll be top ACC contenders, because it’s only the small things we have to change. We definitely have a bright future, our recruiting is getting way stronger and by no time we’ll be up there with the basketball program.

BDN: It looks like your team had a tough season. Can you give us a brief recap of your senior year for us?

What’s ironic is that we were going through the same thing Duke was with a very inexperienced, young team. We ended up 3-7 and it was kind of hard, because I’m coming off of a season, my junior year, where we only lost 2 games during the season and made it to the playoffs, to come to 3-7. So it was a pretty difficult time for me and I was also injured, mostly half of the season with a high ankle sprain, that I had to take easy and ice everyday in practice. It really sucked, but when I came back they put me at middle linebacker because I was one of the strongest hitters and one of the guys that makes sure tackles, so they put me at middle linebacker and I tried to do the best I could there, even though I was undersized being 190 or 185. I also played special teams, kickoff, kick return and that’s about it. I think Westlake, just like Duke, is going to have a good future in the years to come because we’re a really young team.

BDN: What are your plans for the offseason? What’s next for you?

My plan right now, Patrick, is just to get faster, stronger, and bigger. That’s my whole thing. What I got a lot from the players is really stress conditioning. After I sign my letter of intent, Duke will be sending me a book on the conditioning that I need to start working on and my workout plan. The players and the coaches really, I mean in capitals, REALLY stressed the conditioning because no one wants to go there as a freshman planning on playing and can’t even run the conditioning requirements. I’m really working on that. I want to get big, but I also want to keep my stamina where it is. Those are my plans. I want to at least get to Duke at around 205 or 210 pounds, and then during summer camp and all the conditioning I’ll probably slim back down to 200, 195 so I can be solid enough to play. Those are really my things. I also want to be able to learn the playbook pretty fast, so I’m always in touch with Matt Daniels, the safety over there, asking him about the plays and coverages and stuff like that.

BDN: When can Duke fans expect to see you on campus?

I actually have to talk to my counselor about that, but most likely the first session, I’ll be there, I think it’s May 18. I’d then have to fly back down for my graduation and then I’ll go back up there. It’s looking like the first session, I don’t know for sure.

BDN: That’s great. Thanks so much, Chris. We all look forward to seeing you in Durham. Best of luck with your senior year.

Yessir, thank you Patrick.

Blue Devil fans can catch Chris in the annual Metro Atlanta All Star Game, which will be played on January 8 at Grady Stadium in Atlanta. Blue Devil Nation will continue to bring updates on Duke football’s class of 2011 right up through signing day.

St. John’s (6-0) at Duke (6-1) Game Notes

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Game 8

[6 AP/5 Coaches] Duke (6-1) vs. St. John’s (6-0)

Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009  •  3:30 p.m.  •  espn2

Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)  •  Durham, N.C.

The Opening Tip

Duke (6-1), ranked sixth in the AP poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, faces unranked St. John’s (6-0) on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 3:30 p.m. Saturday’s contest will be aired by espn2 with Dave O’Brien and Jay Bilas calling the action.

The Last Time Out

Duke is coming off a 73-69 loss to Wisconsin on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Junior Kyle Singler scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field and 7-of-7 from the free throw line in the loss. He also added six rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal in the game.

Freshman Andre Dawkins went 4-of-4 from three-point range to finish with 12 points, while Nolan Smith (13) and Jon Scheyer (10) also reached double figures in scoring.

The Blue Devils shot 93.8 percent (15-of-16) from the foul line in the game, but were unable to overcome eight three-point field goals, including three threes in the opening five minutes of action, by the Badgers.

The Duke-St. John’s Series

Duke has won six straight games in the series and is 13-5 all-time against St. John’s. The Blue Devils have won four straight home games and are 4-1 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the series. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski boasts a 13-2 record against St. John’s.

Numbers Game

l Duke has won 32 straight home games against unranked opponents, dating back to a 68-67 loss to Florida State on Feb. 4, 2007.

l The Blue Devils have won a current NCAA-best 72 consecutive non-conference home games. Duke’s last home loss against a non-conference foe was an 83-82 decision against St. John’s on Feb. 26, 2000.

l Duke has won five of the last six games in the series with St. John’s by double figures. The Blue Devils have a +14.1 ppg. scoring margin in that span.

l The Blue Devils have won seven of their last 10 games against Big East opponents, including a 68-59 win over Connecticut on Nov. 27. Duke is 105-44 all-time against the conference.

l Duke has won 45 straight December home games, dating back to a 62-61 loss to Michigan on Dec. 8, 1996.

l The Blue Devils are 156-26 in the month of December under Coach K. Duke is 48-4 since the 1999-2000 season in December contests.

l Duke is 9-2 following a loss in the last three seasons. The Blue Devils are 34-11 in the last 10 seasons after a loss.

l Andre Dawkins leads the ACC in three-point field goals (2.9 3pg.) and has made two or more threes in six of seven games. He ranks second in the conference in three-point percentage at .556 (20-of-26). Over the last four games, Dawkins is averaging 12.8 points  per game, while shooting 14-of-18 (.778) from three-point range.

l Duke is the only team in the ACC with more than one player averaging over 15.0 points per game. Nolan Smith (17.4), Kyle Singler (17.1) and Jon Scheyer (15.9) are each average over 15.0 points per game for the season.

l Jon Scheyer has reached double figures in scoring in 19 straight games. He has scored 10 or more points in 83 of 111 career games.

l Junior Nolan Smith has scored 10 or more points in all five games he has played this season. He is averaging a team-high 17.4 points per game, a +9.0 ppg. scoring jump from a year ago.

l Duke leads the ACC in free throw percentage at .799 (115-of-144). Five Blue Devil regulars (Andre Dawkins, Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler & Lance Thomas) are shooting 85.0 percent or better from the charity stripe.

l The Blue Devils have three more fouls committed than their opponents through the first seven games of the season. The last time Duke finished the year with more fouls committed than its opponents was the 1995-96 season.

l Kyle Singler had a career-high 28 points in the loss to Wisconsin. He now has three 20-point efforts on the year and 18 for his career.

l Senior Jon Scheyer has led Duke in assists in all seven games this season. He leads the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (7.2:1) and is sixth in assists per game (5.1 apg.).

#2 Duke travels to Florida State

[private]•  Game 15  •
[2 AP/2 Coaches] Duke (13-1, 1-0 ACC) vs. Florida State (13-2, 0-0 ACC)
Saturday, January 10, 2009  •  2:05 PM ET  •  ESPN
Donald L. Tucker Center (12,100)  •  Tallahassee, Fla.
 
Game Quick Facts
 TV: ESPN; Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst).
 
Radio: Duke Radio Network (flagship WDNC 620 AM in Durham); Bob Harris (play-by-play), John Roth (analyst) and Matthew Laurance (sideline).
 
All-time Series: Duke leads the all-time series 26-6, including an 11-5 mark at the Donald L.

Senior David McClure
Senior David McClure

Tucker Center. Duke has won six of the last eight games in the series.
 
Coaches:
Mike Krzyzewski
Overall Record: 816-268 (34th year)
Duke Record: 743-209 (29th year)
vs. Florida State: 25-5
 
Leonard Hamilton
Overall Record: 306-286 (20th year)
Florida State Record: 106-86 (seventh year)
 
Blue Devil Bits
Duke is 13-1 on the year, including a 1-0 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Blue Devils have now started the season with a 13-1 mark 17 times, including 11 times under Mike Krzyzewski.

The Blue Devils moved up three spots to second in the AP poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Duke is 107-16 all-time when ranked second in the AP poll.

The Blue Devils have won 274 games this decade, the most wins in a decade by the program. The win total is the fifth-most in any decade by a team in NCAA history.

Duke is coming off a 79-67 win over Davidson on Wednesday. Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer each had 22 points to pace the Blue Devils.

Junior Jon Scheyer scored his 1,000th career point on a free throw with 33 seconds left to play in the win over Davidson. He is the 57th player in school history with at least 1,000 career points. Duke has the third-most 1,000-point scorers in NCAA history.

Gerald Henderson added 11 points and seven rebounds against the Wildcats. He has now scored in double figures in six consecutive games.

Junior Brian Zoubek finished with seven points, nine rebounds, one block and one steal on Wednesday. Zoubek has grabbed five or more rebounds 10 times this season, including eight of the last nine games.[/private]

Gerald Henderson talks of his improvement, Zoubek and more

[private]Statistically, you’ve really picked it up of late.  What do you attribute that to?  Are you getting in a comfort zone or something like that?

I guess you could say that, but I’m just realizing that I need to play like a really good player every game – not just every now and then.  Part of becoming the player I want to become is being that person on a consistent basis.

My teammates are finding me and I’m being more aggressive on the offensve end.  Being more hungry to score with the ball and also getting points off of my defense, getting out and running the floor has helped.

After the Michigan loss, I felt like I had’t contributed like I need to do.  Even though we lost, we were in the game for most of it and that kind of pushed me to contribute more.

Now that the team is getting into ACC play, do you feel fresher as a team than say last year?

Definitely my body feels good.  The guys fell good.  We’ve have some hard practices, but we’ve rested ourselves well and are prepared for whats coming.

Is there more intensity going into ACC play during practices?

Coach is always intense.  We are always intense, but there is an added level of intensity as we go into the season – a little bit more urgency.  Every ACC team – you’re going to get their best fight every game – we get that from anybody.  You can’t get knocked back.  Really at the beginning of the game we try to set the tone early.

Can you comment on the play of center Brian Zoubek -

He’s a heck of a player.  He’s really developed his game and is becoming one of the better post players in the country.  There are some simple things he does which make him a better player.  Since Brian has come here, we’ve always had confidence in him.  I think a big thing is that his injuries have definitely set him back.  He played well as a freshman, but injuries were a set back.  Brian is going to do fine.  We have confidence in him and he is confident himself now.  He’s going to be a huge part of what we do this year.

Are you guys at the place you want to be so far this season?

Absolutely.  We feel like we are in a good spot.  We feel like we are in a good spot, but we can definitely continue to get better.[/private]

Kyle Singler interview – he talks of the ACC opener vs Virginia Tech

[private]Going into the ACC season what are the coaches saying?

Keep on playing hard.  It will be ACC caliber play or whatever you want to call it – we’ just have to keep playing hard and can’t take days off.

Singler and Duke are preparing for the always pesky Hokies
Singler and Duke are preparing for the always pesky Hokies

Do you feel any different going into ACC play with a year under your belt?

A little bit, but not much.  You just have to meet expectations and keep on doing what you are doing.

The inside play seems better this season -

I think it is just guys have been in this offensive system a little bit longer and we are more comfortable. I think Brian has given us a big lift.  He was injured last season or most of it.  He’s healthy this year and he brings a little bit of height to us and he just gives us a different look which is good.

Talk about the play of Nolan Smith and how he is doing since his injury on Wednesday.

I think Nolan has been playing really well.  Nolan had a good practice today.  He practiced the whole time.  You wouldn’t know he got injured aside from the knee pads he is wearing.  He went right back at it.

On a new offensive coaching philosophy -

I think we are just running a little more motion.  I think it just brings a different aspect to the way we play the game.  A lot of guys on our team know how to play basketball and with this motion offense it allows us to make reads.

You didn’t do that as a team last year?

We really didn’t.  We mostly ran set last year and set some picks and used more ball screens.  This year we are using more ball screens but it’s in the motion offense which making reads passing and cutting more is good.

Be sure to check out our sections or archives for articles fall off the front page fast during the regular season.[/private]