Standing at 6-3 and weighing in at around 320 pounds, Laken Tomlinson will be a key player on the Duke offensive front. BDN caught up to the redshirt sophomore during media day and here is what he had to say -
Lewis started his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams after having signed as a free agent, but was released after two years. New Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmer knew Thad from his tenure as Offensive Coordinator with the Rams before getting the Browns job, so Cleveland quickly snagged Lewis.
Lewis opens camp as the fourth quarterback on the depth chart. Rookie Brandon Wheedon will battle incumbent Colt McCoy for the start at QB, but many have speculated McCoy could be shipped elsewhere, which would mean Lewis battling Seneca Wallace for the backup role.
There is a reason Shurmer wanted Lewis in the fold, and BDN feels there is no doubt we'll be seeing him earn a spot on the squad this August. Here is another BDN interview with the former Duke star.
What a week it has been for Duke Basketball! There is no denying the "feel good" atmosphere around the program these days. It began last Thursday night when Austin Rivers was selected by the New Orleans Hornets with the 10th pick in the NBA draft. He was followed by Miles Plumlee, who went 26th to the Indiana Pacers, giving Duke two more first round draft selections under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. On Saturday, coveted transfer Rodney Hood pulled the trigger for Duke, so as I say, it has indeed been a good week for the program.
If you've seen Miles Plumlee of late, he sports a spiffy new look that recalls Clark Kent chic, and it fits him to a tee. Plumlee was often seen by the media as a mild-mannered type, always polite, grounded and professional. But this past Thursday, Plumlee ripped open his shirt to reveal he has a little Superman thing going on as well. While the Pacers' pick shocked many, those of us who followed Plumlee's progress and spoke with league insiders saw this coming. Plumlee is a workout freak, and he posted great numbers during the NBA combines. Many teams saw a player with both the athletic ability and the skill set to make it in the league. You can't teach height, of course, and Miles's size, combined with his ability to shoot from the permiter and run the court, served him well. NBA coaches and execs also did not forget that Miles learned how to play the game under Coach Krzyzewski at Duke, and that at 23, he's already mature in many ways that should aid in his transition to the next level.
Austin Rivers is one of the most unfairly judged players I have been around since covering Duke basketball. Many mistake his confidence as a brash arrogance, when the reality is that confidence is an integral part of his game and a key component of his drive and his motor. Desire can carry a player a long way, and Rivers unquestionably has it. It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed internet chatter can be taken as gospel truth, even by the "mainstream" media, and this was certainly the case with regard to the perceptions of this young man. I can tell you first hand that Rivers is a good kid, polite and professional when need be, but also not afraid to speak his mind. He is the type of kid that would settle differences with a game of one-on-one; the only thing wrong with that is how unfair it would be to just about any opponent he would face.
Austin leaves Duke having provided the program and its fans with one of the most thrilling and unforgettable moments in Duke's long and glorious history when his buzzer-beater to beat UNC hit nothing but the bottom of the net. While Rivers will certainly have to adjust to the physicality of the NBA game, he has been a big success at every level, and this one will be no different.
The news came Saturday evening that Rodney Hood, a coveted transfer from Mississippi State, would be attending Duke. In our latest BDN Premium update we discuss his addition for our members, and one of the things we share is that he will be on campus this Wednesday. Hood's addition changes the landscape of Duke's recruiting, and we discuss that as well in the Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update. Hood was a player BDN was on early when he was on the AAU circuit, when he let us know that he had always liked the Blue Devils growing up. Hood will be allowed to practice with the team this year, and should be a part of the N.C. Pro-Am, where fans will get a firsthand view of his game.
We are a mere two months away from kickoff on the gridiron, and the Blue Devils face a bear of a task in the opener, as Florida International comes to Wallace Wade returning 18 starters from back-to-back bowl teams. There is no doubt that this game, even though it's the opener, is vital to the Devils' hopes of a run at a bowl themselves. If a season opener could ever be "must win" for Duke, this would be the year. We'll be talking more football starting this month as Cut surveys his team. Make plans now to support Duke Football by buying season tickets and check out the new "Cut's Corner."
USA Basketball is about to take center stage as well, and Coach K and company will keep Duke in the headlines in their effort to bring another gold medal home from London. BDN has always supported and covered Team USA's efforts, and this season will be no different.
Brett Steverson is a 6'4" 300 pound offensive tackle from Fitzgerald, Georgia. After a slow start, his recruitment is picking up this spring, and he now holds scholarship offers from Duke and Troy, with strong interest from several others. The Blue Devils have Steverson near the top of their recruiting board for offensive lineman, and hosted the top junior on a recent visit. Steverson came away impressed and updated BDN on his recruitment.
BDN: How would you describe your strengths as a player?
As far as being a player, I think that, we’re a run-oriented offense, we run the ball a lot, that’s not to say that I can’t pass block, I’m pretty good at that too. I’m a dominant run blocker, and I think I’m underrated. I think if I match up with anybody in the state, head to head, up front, it doesn’t matter if I’m a two-star or a three-star, it doesn’t matter what they rate me, if I’m going up against a 5-star, All-American, I think I can go head to head with them in run blocking and pass blocking. I love run blocking because I’m physical and I finish all my blocks. As far as pass blocking, I’ve got pretty quick feet for a big guy, but I’d be fine run blocking all game. I can also, in our offense, last year we didn’t pull our tackles as much, but this year we’re supposed to pull our tackles more, so I’ll get a chance to do that. In practice when they pulled them last year, I did a good job and the year before that I actually played guard, so I can pull and move and stuff.
BDN: What are you working on this offseason as you prepare for your senior year?
I think the main thing I’m trying to do is just, I’m a strong kid in the weight room, most people call me the gym rat because every time somebody comes to the weight room, it seems like I’m up there. But, just getting stronger, faster, and quicker, and more explosive. Trying to work on football explosiveness through power cleans and stuff like that so I can be more explosive on the field, it all ties together. That’s the main things I’ve been working on, and also some pass blocking, doing some more one-on-ones so that when I get to combines it’s not such a big thing because we never get in the two-point stance, so just working on my pass blocks and stuff we don’t do that much.
BDN: As you approach your college decision, what are the most important things you are looking for in a school?
I think education is going to play a big role. Another thing that will play a big role is how much of a family atmosphere there is, how the coaches and players get along, how their relationship is. Of course, a relationship between a coach and a player is going to be intense at times, but I also want to have that security where the coach is going to care about you and be like your dad when you’re at college and away from your family. That’s one thing that I really liked about Duke, Coach Cutcliffe is such a great guy, and those guys up there are top notch academically.
BDN: You mentioned Duke as one of the schools that has stood out to you. Where do you stand with offers and interest from schools now?
Duke and Troy are my two offers right now, but our high school coach has been talking a lot to Coach McCollum up at Georgia Tech and Coach Brattan at Maryland, they might offer at any time. People say that Georgia…people say things, that stuff, all the articles and reporters and stuff, until it’s legit, you don’t really know. I did really like Duke and I think Coach Cutcliffe and them are doing a great job up there. I haven’t been to Troy yet. I know that people say Duke’s football is not on the map, but Coach Cutcliffe has done a great job there trying to develop a program, building new facilities. Even though they only won 3 games last year, they lost 5 games by a combined 14 points, so that shows they’re right on the brink of being a bowl team and an ACC contender. That’s a credit to Coach Cut and the players and all the assistants.
BDN: You mentioned Troy as a school that you have some interest in; do you have any plans for any visits this spring or summer?
Miami wants me to come down, I’ll go down there in the summer probably. I’ve been to Georgia three times before I got offered by Duke. It was nice, but I didn’t like the atmosphere, I didn’t take in as much as I did at Duke, even though they’re a top school every year, it just didn’t seem like as friendly of an atmosphere. I plan to go to Troy, but I’m not going to lock down any visits until I get some more offers, which will probably come this spring. I’m not going to really plan anything, I’ll probably go to some places over the summer, but right now I don’t know where I’m going to go. I want to take my mom back up to Duke, because she didn’t get to see it. I have three players from our school, well two are already there and one is going there this fall, to play football at Troy, so it will be cool to catch up with those guys, but I haven’t planned to go there yet.
BDN: Do you have a timeline in mind for when you plan to narrow things down or make your final decision?
That’s a tough questions, because I think I’ll get some more offers this spring and hopefully get an offer from a SEC school, a big SEC school, because it seems when that happens everybody starts to jump on board and pay attention. It would be nice to get an offer from someplace like that so I can see what all my offers and options are going to be. I really would like to make a decision either in very early football season or before football season, because I don’t want my football season to overlap with questions not surrounding the team but surrounding me and my decision. I would rather get that out of the way so it’s less of a distraction for me any my team.
BDN: Thanks a lot, Brett, and best of luck.
Thanks, I appreciate it.
After a short lull, Duke football picked up another early commitment in the class of 2013 on Thursday. Statesville CB Breon Borders gave his verbal pledge to the Blue Devils, joining fellow in-state CB Dequavais Mann and Virginia CBs Evrett Edwards and Jake Kite in the future Duke secondary. The 6'1" 170 pound prospect helped lead Statesville to the state playoffs and a 7-5-1 overall record as a junior; he finished the season with 48 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 6 pass break-ups. Borders picked up his first scholarship offer on a February unofficial visit to Durham, which he described as a dream come true, and declared Duke his early leader. He made his decision official on Thursday by informing the Duke coaches, and ultimately chose Duke over an offer from Georgia State and strong interest from Clemson, ECU, UNC, and Wake Forest.
Borders caught up with BDN after his high school track meet this afternoon.
BDN: What led to your decision to commit to Duke today?
I've wanted to go to Duke ever since freshman year, plus I am ready to get recruiting out of the way so I can focus on my senior year and football.
BDN: How did you inform the coaches of your decision and what did they have to say?
I just called up Coach Cutcliffe and I told him that, "Coach, I'm ready to commit." And he was just so excited, he was so excited, I was excited. It was just amazing, it was amazing!
BDN: I know we spoke after you took a visit to Durham earlier this spring and you've had some other schools recruiting you as well. What was it about that Duke that made it the school for you?
I just really connected with the coaches and I really liked the vibe around campus. I think I could come and play within my second year at Duke.
BDN: I'm sure Duke fans will be excited to hear about your commitment. Is there anything you want to let them know?
I just want them to know that they got a good athlete, a long athlete, and they got a corner that's going to come to work every day.
BDN: Congratulations on your commitment, Breon, and best of luck this fall!
Yes sir, thank you!
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Ja, Part Eine. As in part eine von zwei. Go ahead, Google Translate it. It means there's even more coming, but only if you're a BDN Premium Member.
"I love Duke Football, but it's impossible to keep up with recruiting. There's just too many players, too many camps, too many rankings. Basketball recruiting is so much easier to follow."
We hear that a lot, and it's time somebody did something about it. #dukegang is off to a great start in the class of 2013, so there's no better time to start following Duke Football recruiting. Read on for the first installment of our BDN Premium Football Recruiting update.
I don't actually speak German, by the way. Maybe we'll do a Football Friday in a foreign language one day. That would be something. Ok, so football recruiting is all over the place (kind of like my writing) and impossible to follow, right? Well, let's simplify it, for all of us. Yes, there are hundreds of prospects interested in and visiting Duke; yes, there are hundreds of prospects that Duke is interested in or evaluating. The key, my friends, is to find where those two groups overlap. Since we know the Blue Devils have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, let's start there. Here's an educated guess as to the top of Duke's defensive recruiting board:
None in the truck so far, here, but a promising start with a couple of big-time players.
Devin Washington is a 6'2" 225 pound defensive end prospect from Orlando, FL. He took a visit to Duke a few weeks ago and came away impressed. "Duke was amazing, left a lasting impression on me. It was extraordinary! So blessed to have the opportunity to be able to have this experience." One of the highlights of his trip was being able to take his father, a big Duke fan, out onto Coach K court in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The staff remains in regular contact with him, led by Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Collins. But, before you go out and start buying Washington Duke jerseys (puns are fun!), the Blue Devils have quite a bit of competition, which should come as no surprise for a player who has four stars after his name and recently took home DL MVP honors at the Nike camp in Orlando. Devin picked up his 25th offer today, from Purdue. Washington is expected to put together a list of his top schools after he wraps up spring practice, and there's a good chance that Duke will make that cut, but they're likely to be joined by several others, most likely NC State, South Carolina, and UCF.
Maurice Hurst is a 6'2" 275 pound defensive tackle prospect from Westwood, MA. He recently wrapped up a whirlwind college tour, and included a stop in Durham. In all likelihood, the Blue Devils have some ground to make up, but Hurst is a top-notch student and would fill a huge need in the middle of Duke's defensive line.
Jaylen Miller and Jay Woods are two more of the Blue Devils' top DL targets, with Miller likely projecting as a DE and Woods a DT at the college level. BDN caught up with both earlier this spring, and the Duke staff is looking forward to hosting both prospects on unofficial visits soon. For Miller, Duke will face stiff competition from Florida and in-state Clemson and South Carolina, as well as rival UNC. Coach Jones, a South Carolina native, heads up Miller's recruitment for the Blue Devils. Woods' list of suitors continues to grow and includes national powers like USC and Nebraska, but the Blue Devils will have their shot, led by Coach Middleton.
I still say Jim Collins is under appreciated for the job he has done with the linebacking corps in Durham. Year after year, he puts out All-ACC caliber players, and landed a very good one this past recruiting year in Keilin Rayner. The Blue Devils are looking to add more playmakers to their linebackers, and have targeted a few of the nation's elite so far.
Michael Deeb is a 6'2" 235 pound linebacker from Davie, Florida. Deeb played his first year at linebacker as a junior, racking up 92 tackles, after starting his career as a defensive end. He is cut from a similar mold as Duke's Kelby and Kyler Brown - a big, physical specimen with deceptive speed and great instincts. Boasting a 3.8 GPA, he's earned a host of suitors, which include programs like Penn State, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia. Deeb is planning a college tour this summer, which will hopefully include a stop in Durham.
Oren Burks, a Virginia native, is the other top target at linebacker, a player the Blue Devils offered a couple weeks ago on his unofficial visit to Durham. At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Burks delivers a punishing hit and is being courted by a number of programs. His HS, South County, recently produced a pair of Virginia Tech LBs, and the Hokies are among the schools to have offered the standout junior.
With three of the five CBs on campus as upperclassmen, the Blue Devils will need to reload at cornerback in the class of 2013, and reloading they are. With two cornerbacks committed, Duke is still looking for more.
Evrett Edwards is a stud. Sure, the Blue Devils have brought in some athletic cornerbacks in recent classes, but none have the potential to become an All-ACC shutdown cornerback like Edwards. While Duke was one of the first to discover this diamond in the rough, playing for a 6-4 Woodbridge team, they are certainly not the last. Edwards recently cracked the double-digit offer threshold and shows no signs of slowing down. Several schools have stopped by to take in his spring practice, including ACC power Florida State. After his commitment to Duke, Edwards took unofficial visits to Illinois and Northwestern, which he had scheduled prior to his decision. Luckily for Blue Devils' fans, Edwards appears to be a man of his word, and his commitment to Duke remains solid.
Dequavais Mann is a hard first name to spell, but a very nice in-state sleeper prospect (another player on a not-so-great HS team). A player with good natural speed and athleticism, he's impressed on the spring circuit and is one of #dukegang's most vocal supporters on Twitter. He's a solid addition to the program and a firm commitment at this point.
Malik Rucker is another impressive athlete who projects at either the cornerback or safety position, and a player that the Duke staff has been in on early. At 5'11" and 175 pounds from Minneapolis, MN, Rucker comes from the heart of Big 10 country, but has interest in the ACC. His cousin played wide receiver at Boston College, and another cousin played running back at Iowa State; but, with 16 scholarship offers, he's wide open at this point. Expect Rucker to take some weekend visits over the next few months and look to make a decision in the fall.
Godwin Igwebuike is another athlete from Big 10 country (Pickerington, Ohio) near the top of the Blue Devils' recruiting board. With the potential to play on either side of the ball, Igwebuike has amassed over a dozen scholarship offers and is drawing interest from regional powers Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. Duke was on Igwebuike early, as Derek Jones extended an offer on a recruiting visit last December. The Blue Devils hope to get the powerful athlete on campus later this year.
With one commitment already on board at safety, Duke is looking to find another player or two to help fill the void left by now departed All-ACC safety Matt Daniels. With several upperclassmen poised to graduate in 2013, the Blue Devils can offer early playing time for impact players at the safety position in their 4-2-5 scheme.
Jake Kite is as good as his highlight film, by all accounts. He plays smart, he plays mean, and he hits hard. This was a very good pickup early in the recruiting season for the Blue Devils, and he's a solid commitment, though plenty of other schools will come calling.
Speaking of poaching recruits, two can play that game. Duke remains in pursuit of Durham's own Korrin Wiggins, a safety from Hillside HS, alma mater of Duke's Desmond Scott, Corey Gattis, and Brandon Watkins. Wiggins, of course, committed to the boys in Columbia blue in February after watching Austin Rivers bury the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. It may be too little, too late, but Coach Middleton is leading the charge to try and persuade Wiggins to a different shade of blue.
Austin Logan is a good-looking safety prospect from Tallahassee, Florida. An outstanding student-athlete, his list includes the usual suspects for a player of his caliber - Stanford, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Duke. Of course, there are plenty of others, but expect those four schools to be in the running for 6'1" 180 pound prospect.
For the superstitious among you, that's the lucky 13 at the top of Duke's defensive recruiting board in the class of 2013. Now, I ask, was that still too overwhelming? Can't you spare a few of those brain cells you use to memorize Bachelorette contestants? Ugh, well, we tried. More to come, as we break down the top of the offensive recruiting board sometime soon. And yes, I'll work on a Football Friday, too. Spoiled rotten, all of you.