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.