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Duke-football

BDN Football Friday: Spring Game Preview

 

Coach Cutcliffe and the team will kickoff the festivities with the Blue Devil Walk at 11AM Saturday- BDN Photo

Are you ready for some football, Blue Devil Nation? Saturday afternoon will be your last chance until September 1st to see some Duke Football, so get your fill. The Blue Devils will take to the field on Saturday at 1PM in Wallace Wade Stadium for their annual spring game. BDN’s Football Friday is here for your preview.

 

Logistics

First of all, highs in the upper 70s, with a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms. Should be a perfect spring day for some football if the rains miss the Methodist Flats. That also means a perfect day for some tailgating. Get there early, as the team will conduct the Blue Devil Walk at 11:00 AM. Team BDN will be there in full force, so be sure to say hi. Here’s the information on the parking situation. Bring your wallets, even though admission is free (stadium gates open at 11:15), as there will be plenty of opportunities to get your Blue Devil gear, as well as stuff your face with Chick-fil-a, Domino’s, and Blue Devil Concessions. Oh, and the most important reason to bring your wallet is to purchase your 2012 season tickets. Ticket office reps will be on hand and help you pick your exact seats. Try before you buy. The game kicks off at 1PM and Coach Cutcliffe will address the crowd during halftime of the scrimmage. Spring practice awards will also be announced at halftime.

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

Scouting the Blue Devil Offense

The Duke offense will feature a number of familiar faces, but it’s likely to be the unfamiliar ones who will make an impression on Saturday. We all know what Conner Vernon is capable of at wide receiver, but as he’s been limited due to injury this spring, expect to see a lot of Blair Holliday and Jamison Crowder, both of whom have had very strong spring performances. Nick Hill is another young face who appears ready to contribute, and Corey Gattis and Tyree Watkins add a veteran presence to the receiving corps. With Jack Farrell and Braxton Deaver sidelined with injuries, the Blue Devils had concerns at wide receiver heading into spring practice. Coming out of spring practice, tight end is no longer a concern, and you’ll likely see why as Issac Blakeney and David Reeves are sure to impress.

Up front, the Duke offensive line returns all but graduating senior Kyle Hill, and that continuity should benefit the Blue Devil offense. This group has improved each year under Coach Cutcliffe, and they’re looking to take a big step forward this fall under new OL Coach John Latina. Expect to see a few holes opened for the likes of the now healthy Josh Snead and last year’s leading rusher Juwan Thompson, who have seen the majority of carries with senior Desmond Scott nursing injury. If that trio isn’t impressive enough for you, the Blue Devils will add two more big-time running backs in just a few months, as Jela Duncan and Shaquille Powell will push for early playing time.

Am I forgetting something? Ah, yes, quarterback. While Peyton Manning had been a fixture in the Duke practice facilities this offseason, he will not be taking snaps under center for the Blue Devils on Saturday. Sean Renfree remains entrenched as the starter, and he’s had yet another good spring running the Duke offense. While much of spring practice is situational, Renfree has shown the ability to get the ball downfield, averaging 15.7 yards per completion in the last scrimmage. But Renfree’s old news, right? Coach Cutcliffe and the Duke staff have been looking at ways to get guys like Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone more involved in the offense, and they’ve done well with running the ball and catching the ball in some unique schemes. But don’t get too excited. Knowing the Duke coaching staff, the Blue Devils are unlikely to show off anything particularly new or exciting on Saturday, so we’ll all just have to wait until the fall. Expect to see Connette, Boone, and freshman Thomas Sirk take several snaps under center in relief of Renfree; all have taken big steps forward in their command of the offense this spring.

Ross Cockrell has developed into a shutdown corner for the Blue Devils

Scouting the Blue Devil Defense

Somehow, it seems that Duke has had a perpetually young defense the past few years, and that remain the case this spring, though they are overall more experienced. The losses of Matt Daniels and Charlie Hatcher will be the biggest voids to fill, and there are a number of candidates looking to contribute. Up front, Duke will be without their top pass-rushers Saturday in Kenny Anunike and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, but will feature much of the same group of athletic ends we saw a year ago, led by Justin Foxx, Dezmond Johnson, and Jamal Wallace. Sydney Sarmiento, Jamal Bruce, and Nick Sink are likely to see the majority of time on the inside up front. The defensive line continues to improve under Coach Petri and has the benefit of going up against a big and experienced offensive line in practice.

At linebacker, the Blue Devils will be without Kelby Brown for the foreseeable future, but expect sophomore David Helton to continue to impress. The redshirt is off for Kelby’s younger, but bigger, brother Kyler, and it appears that a nose for the football is in their genes. Austin Gamble is the lone upperclassman, though sophomores C.J. France and Jon Woodruff have some experience. And before you get down on the Blue Devil linebackers, keep in mind that stud recruits Keilin Rayner and Deion Williams will be on campus in just a few months.

Coach Knowles’ 4-2-5 scheme relies heavily on the secondary, and the emergence of Ross Cockrell as a shutdown corner is key. He’ll be joined by senior Lee Butler at cornerback, though youngsters Jared Boyd and Tim Burton will see time. The leader of the secondary this year is most likely to be leading returning tackler Walt Canty, though hard-hitting Jordon Byas has also turned some heads with August Campbell sidelined this spring. Newcomers to look for at safety include the hard-working Chris Tavarez, Britton Grier, transfer Jeremy Cash, and former WR Brandon Braxton. All should see snaps on Saturday and overall, this group has some of the best playmakers on the defensive side.

Scouting the Blue Devil Special Teams

Will Monday. That’s about all you need to know. With Will Snyderwine and Alex King now graduated, Monday has handled all of the punting and kicking duties this spring, and handled them well. By the fall, incoming freshman Ross Martin may challenge him for the placekicking duties, but expect to see Monday handle the punting for the next four years in Durham. On the return side, Jamison Crowder remains the Blue Devils’ top threat, but he’ll be joined by incoming freshman DeVon Edwards this fall, who took more than a few kicks to the house during his high school career. In all likelihood, getting to see Monday punt and kick should be a refreshing sight for Blue Devil fans and the only real highlight on special teams Saturday.

Recruiting still sizzling

Who are all those people with lanyards and nametags? That would be the dozens of high school prospects and their families who will be on campus this weekend to take in the Blue Devil program. Several members of the Duke class of 2012 will be on hand Saturday, and they’ll be joined by a huge group of future prospects. With 3 commitments already on board in 2013, the coaching staff is flying high on the trail and will have in some of their top targets in this class, including a handful considered among the nation’s elite. Coach Cutcliffe and his staff work on recruiting every single day, and this weekend will be no exception. And just like the staff, we follow the recruiting trail here at BDN, so be sure to check out some of our recent interviews with the likes of TE Nathan Marcus, and OL Sterling Korona, and of course lots more to come. Don’t be surprised if the Blue Devils hear more good news by the end of this weekend.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, Blue Devil Nation is the place to be for Duke Football fans. We cover the team year-round, and would love to have you join our growing BDN Premium community. We can’t wait to see you all in Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday. WE ARE DUKE.

Duke was among the first schools to offer Alabama DE Torey Agee

Run-stopping DE Torey Agee says Duke has “everything I’m looking for”

Duke was among the first schools to offer Alabama DE Torey Agee

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.

Alright, thank you.

[/private]

 

A.J. Wolf was back in Durham to see Duke take on Stanford

Duke adds athletic NY lineman A.J. Wolf to the class of 2012

A.J. Wolf is the 10th verbal commitment in Duke's class of 2012

With the arrival of Defensive Line Coach Rick Petri in Durham this offseason, the Duke defensive line has been rejuvenated. Coach Petri and the players have worked hard to transform the position into a strength for the 2011 Blue Devils. Having worked with college and NFL stars such as Warren Sapp and John Abraham during his career, Coach Petri is know as one of the best teachers of the game. In the class of 2012, Duke has already added verbal commitments from two athletic linemen in Allen Jackson and Carlos Wray. On Saturday, the Blue Devils received a commitment from another athletic prospect, as 6’4” 250 pound A.J. Wolf gave his pledge to the Duke coaching staff. Wolf earned 1st Team All-League on both offense and defense as a junior, and was also named 2nd Team All-State at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY. After impressing the Duke coaches at camp last weekend, Wolf earned an offer and jumped at the opportunity to become a Blue Devil, choosing Duke over Penn State, LSU, Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton. His highlights can be viewed here.

 

BDN caught up with the newest Blue Devil shortly after his commitment Saturday.

 

BDN: How did you arrive at your decision to commit to Duke?

Well last week, the 18th, I came to their football camp and then two days later they gave me an offer, so I decided to come back down and visit this weekend, because I know that you have to act fast or scholarships can get filled up. I visited yesterday and then today, and I liked everything I saw. I asked everyone, basically every student I saw, how they liked Duke and every single person said they love it. I heard the social scene is great, it’s D1 ACC football, and the education is fantastic. That’s why I decided to come here, the education is great and you’re also competing at a top D1 program, which is a combination that’s hard to find.

BDN: Can you talk about your relationship with the Duke coaching staff?

Well I’m a D-End, defensive end. I didn’t really know the staff well at all last week, but I came this weekend and Coach Cutcliffe, he’s a great guy, he’s a gentleman, he speaks the truth and he’ll always tell you what’s up. He’s really nice about and I got a good impression of him. Coach Knowles is also a good guy, he’s persistent though, he’s an aggressive recruiter, but it works. And then the D-Line Coach, Coach Petri is nice, he seemed really nice. All the coaches I got introduced to seemed like nice guys, I got a really warm feeling.

BDN: Can you give fans a scouting report on yourself as a football player?

Well I think the reason they really liked me is that I’m 250 pounds, but I have great agility for my size and great quickness for my size. I guess there’s a lot of potential in that. I’m not a brute force, I’m more of a finesse guy, I guess, but I have a big frame. They liked the fact that I don’t really use my big frame and I have quick feet, and together they saw potential in that.

BDN: Who are the other schools that you were in contact with and were considering before your commitment to Duke?

I was looking at Stanford, also, and Princeton. Princeton’s in the Ivy League, so it’s a much different experience. And Stanford, there’s a variety of reasons why I picked Duke over Stanford.

BDN: What are your plans for the rest of your summer as you head into your senior year?

The rest of the summer I’m just getting in great shape for my senior season in high school. And then senior year, I’m going to keep my grades up and keep working to eventually help the Devils win a championship.

BDN: Thanks a lot, A.J., and welcome to Duke.

Thanks a lot.

 

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

BDN Free Football Friday Encore

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

Is it Friday already? Time flies when you’re knee deep in recruiting season. As we did last week, we’ll share Football Friday with everyone this week. If you like reading what we have to say, please consider joining BDN Premium. We’ve quickly become the best resource for all things Duke athletics around, and we’d love to have you join our community.

 

College football preview season

We mentioned last week that college football previews are in full swing as magazines hit newsstands and websites begin publishing their own predictions. While Duke is flying under the radar for most prognosticators in 2011, several Blue Devil players have garnered pre-season accolades. Will Snyderwine and Conner Vernon were named as preseason 1st Team All-ACC, while Matt Daniels, Cooper Helfet, Kyle Hill, Sean Renfree, and Donovan Varner were tabbed on the 3rd Team by Athlon Sports. I would caution those who are sleeping on Renfree and Varner in 2011; both have taken huge steps forward this offseason and are poised to lead the Blue Devils to a bowl this fall.

Chris Tavarez featured

Duke’s freshman safety has already made a name for himself in the acting world, and will star in a new NBC movie, “Field of Vision.” The Blue Devils are looking forward to Tavarez’s arrival on campus later this month.

Busy week

It’s been rapid fire at BDN this week, kicking off with the Blue Devils’ 6th verbal commitment in the class of 2012. Carlos Wray joins Allen Jackson as future Duke defensive linemen under new Coach Rick Petri. Wray and Jackson are both athletic prospects who will be fun to watch in Wallace Wade Stadium in the years to come.

With camp season in full swing, BDN checked in with several new Blue Devil prospects to learn more about where they are in their recruiting process, and learned that Duke has made a significant impression on many of them. Some of the new interviews we featured this week included:

LB Jeremiah Allison

OL Steven Foster

OL Bryce Kennedy

OL Casey Blaser

Duke would love for Keilin Rayner to join Deion Williams at LB in the class of 2012

We’ve also recently checked back in with two of Duke’s top targets on the defensive side of the ball:

LB Keilin Rayner

DT Korren Kirven

If you’ve followed Duke football recruiting in recent years, you know we are just getting started here in early June. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

 

Recruiting rewind

Most Duke fans are conditioned to expect recruiting success due to Coach K’s historic run in Durham. In football recruiting, you win some and you lose some. At BDN, we believe it’s more important to focus on the recruiting victories and keep things in perspective. Here’s a quick recap of some of Duke’s biggest recruiting coups in the last two classes alone.

Class of 2010

LB Kelby Brown

Duke fans didn’t know how good of a player they were getting when Brown committed to the Blue Devils in July 2009. The coaching staff was able to secure Kelby’s commitment over nine other scholarship offers from programs like Arkansas, Boston College, Louisville, Northwestern, UCLA, and Wisconsin. After knee surgery cut his freshman year short in 2010, Duke fans are expecting Brown to lead the Blue Devil defense in 2011 and beyond.

QB Brandon Connette

With Sean Renfree entrenched as the heir to Thad Lewis, it was easy to overlook the commitment from Connette, which the Blue Devils received early in the recruiting season, in May 2009. The Duke staff was able to beat out in-state power Stanford for Connette, who came in and led the Blue Devils with 8 rushing touchdowns as a freshman, a new school record.

RB Juwan Thompson

The Duke coaching staff went down to Georgia in the spring of 2009 and stole a pretty good running back prospect from the Peach State. Thompson committed to Duke in June 2009 over offers from Minnesota, Ole Miss, Stanford, UVA, and Wake Forest. After finishing in the ACC’s top 10 in kickoff returns as a freshman, the Blue Devils expect Thompson to see an increased workload in 2011.

RB Josh Snead

After landing 4-star prospect Desmond Scott in 2009, the Duke staff continued their impressive in-state recruiting, adding the speedy Snead to the class of 2010 in December 2009. Snead chose the Blue Devils over Georgia Tech, Louisville, NC State, and Vanderbilt. Along with Scott and Thompson, Snead is expected to be a key playmaker in the 2011 Blue Devil backfield.

 

Kyler and Kelby Brown are two of the Blue Devils' biggest recent recruiting successes

Class of 2011

OL Cody Robinson

The Duke coaching staff landed four impressive prospects from the state of Tennessee in the class of 2011, led by the 300-pound Robinson. Cody chose the Blue Devils over 8 other scholarship offers and is expected to anchor the Duke offensive line for years to come.

OL Marcus Aprahamian

Coach Luke and the Blue Devils went into the Midwest and secured a commitment from the top offensive line prospect in the state of Wisconsin in May 2010. Aprahamian, who called Duke his “dream school,” is expected to join fellow 300-pounder Robinson and anchor the Blue Devil offensive line.

LB David Helton

Another good-looking Tennessee prospect, Helton chose Duke over 7 other scholarship offers, including ACC rival Georgia Tech. Helton is a player many think could contribute as a true freshman in 2011.

CB Jared Boyd, CB Tim Burton, S Chris Tavarez

Duke fans are going to love watching this trio of defensive backs develop in Wallace Wade Stadium. The three bring a distinct swagger to Durham, and they all know how to make plays. Boyd, who hails from Georgia powerhouse Stephenson High School, chose Duke over 14 other scholarship offers, including programs like Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Stanford, and Vanderbilt. Burton brings the reputation of a big-time speedster and trash-talker from the talent-rich state of Florida, where he chose Duke over 7 other offers, including Big Ten power Wisconsin. Tavarez may be best known for his career as an actor so far, but he plans to make a name for himself on the gridiron at Duke, which he chose over 6 other offers, which included Maryland and Vanderbilt.

DE/LB Kyler Brown, ATH Jamison Crowder

Do you remember where you were on February 9, 2011? What about March 13, 2011? Of course, you were watching the Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels on the hardwood. What a great feeling for a Duke fan! So why don’t you remember July 20, 2010? Or February 1, 2011? Duke beat the Tar Heels on those days as well, landing commitments from Jamison Crowder and Kyler Brown. With Crowder’s athleticism and Brown’s family lineage, Blue Devil fans should know to expect both to find a way to make an impact this fall.

You could certainly add more to this list – TE David Reeves, who signed with Duke after a late push by SEC power Auburn; WR Blair Holliday, who chose Duke over hometown UCLA; big DL Sam Marshall, who chose Duke over ACC rivals NC State and Virginia; Will Monday, the top ranked punter in the class; and several others. For a program whose last bowl game was over 15 years ago, the Blue Devil coaching staff is doing an impressive job on the recruiting trail. If recruiting success is any indicator, Duke fans should expect to see results on the field sooner rather than later.

 

Keep up with all things Duke athletics here at BDN. As always, thanks for reading. Until next week, WE ARE DUKE.

 

DE Allen Jackson had 83 tackles and 9 sacks for McDonogh as a junior

DE Allen Jackson commits to Duke

Allen Jackson gave a verbal commitment to Duke on Saturday

On a chilly and damp Saturday, the Blue Devils received their second verbal commitment of the class of 2012, as defensive end Allen Jackson gave his pledge to Head Coach David Cutcliffe and Duke. Jackson was among a large group of prospects and their families who were in Durham for the annual spring game.

Jackson is a 6’5” 225 pound defensive end prospect from Owings Mills, Maryland. Playing defensive end and tight end for McDonogh High School, Allen earned All-Conference honors as a junior, and had already received offers from Duke, Maryland, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia. Partnering with fellow defensive end Roman Braglio, Jackson forms one of the top pass-rushing duos in the mid-Atlantic region. In his junior season, Allen totaled 83 tackles and 9 sacks, numbers he’ll look to top in his senior year as he hopes to lead McDonogh to a state championship. Highlights from Allen’s junior year can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you talk about your visit this weekend and your decision to commit to Duke?

This weekend was great. Everything that we talked about, everything that was mentioned, contributed to my decision. Coming down, I didn’t know that I was going to commit. I knew that I liked Duke a lot, but I also liked Rutgers a lot. But it was just the Duke education and the things that they have there, I think that nobody in the country can provide me as far as the academics and the people that they have there. I didn’t think anyone else could amount to that, so that really played into my decision of picking Duke. And also, Coach Petri, his expertise on defensive linemen and approach to the game really intrigued me. That brought me closer to choosing Duke, and the Duke name was a big factor as well.

BDN: What were some of the things you talked about with Coach Petri as far as your role at Duke and things to work on this year?

They definitely see me as a defensive end and they like my athleticism, but definitely hope for me to keep continuing to lift as I am now and hopefully pick up some more pounds. But if not, when I arrive there in the summer, I definitely will continue to work out and pick up weight. He didn’t really see weight as being a big issue right now.

BDN: What are your plans for future visits either this spring or summer?

DE Allen Jackson had 83 tackles and 9 sacks for McDonogh as a junior

 

Well, I think I’m definitely going to go down and visit, probably take in some practices and maybe go on an official visit this summer. Other than that, I’m not quite sure at the moment, but I’m definitely going to go down some more, I’m just not sure the dates and times yet.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Allen and congratulations on your commitment.

Alright, thanks.