Tag Archives: Georgia Tech

QB Thomas Sirk committed to David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils on Wednesday morning

Baker County (FL) athlete Thomas Sirk earns a coveted Duke QB scholarship offer

Baker County athlete Thomas Sirk is attracting interest from top programs this summer

Though he admittedly dislikes the label, Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe is known in football circles as a quarterback guru. Having mentored both Peyton and Eli Manning (who worked out at Duke on Wednesday), along with several other top collegiate signal-callers, Coach Cut’s reputation is well-deserved. At Duke, he has continued to develop outstanding quarterbacks, starting with two record-setting years for Thaddeus Lewis and an impressive sophomore year for Sean Renfree, along with freshman Brandon Connette. When it comes to quarterback recruiting, Coach Cutcliffe is understandably selective, carefully evaluating hundreds of high school quarterbacks each year, but only offering a scholarship to a select few. Thomas Sirk, a 6’6” 212 pound athlete from Baker County HS in Florida, is one of those select few. Remarkably, Sirk has never played a full year at quarterback in high school, but impressed the Duke coaching staff in person last Saturday in Durham. With interest from schools like Florida, Florida State, and Tennessee, Sirk’s recruitment has officially taken off this summer. His highlight film, which has piqued the interest of several college coaches, can be viewed here. [private]

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

I guess I’d say I’m versatile, I play all over the field, and quarterback. I’m a big guy, I guess, I’m 6’5” 212 right now and I move pretty good for my size.

BDN: You mentioned playing quarterback, is that the position you want to play in college?

That’s what I want to play in college, I’ve been offered by Duke at quarterback.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this summer?

Right now I’m in conditioning. I’ve been working with my receivers on throwing, working on my steps a lot this summer. This is my first year at quarterback really, coming into my senior season, I’m not an original quarterback, last year I played wide receiver, so I just need to work on timing with my receivers and trying to get in touch with them.

BDN: What are your goals for your senior year and your first year under center?

I’m looking to take our team to be the first team to be undefeated in our county. I want to pass for over 1500-2000 yards this season, that’s definitely one of my goals to have high passing yards and I want to have a completion percentage above 65% this year, too.

BDN: What are the most important things you are looking for in a college?

Right now I’m looking at what’s the best place for me, where I‘m going to start earlier, going in, looking at their depth chart. I want to be somewhere where I’m going to get a chance to play for the most years.

BDN: Which schools have been recruiting you this summer?

I’ve been offered by Iowa State as well as Duke. I’ve been recruited by Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, University of Miami, Georgia Tech, Troy, and Vanderbilt.

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools, and what schools are you planning to visit this summer?

I’ve visited Florida State, Florida, Duke, Vanderbilt, I visited Vanderbilt last year during the season. I have Tennessee and Vanderbilt coming up the 17th and 18th of July for camps. I’ve got Florida State coming up again, it’ll be my second time visiting Florida State, July 23rd.

BDN: Are you planning to work out at quarterback at those camps?

Yeah, yeah, I’m planning to work out at quarterback at all those schools. I’ve been in contact with Tennessee’s quarterback coach, we talked on the phone last Friday morning, I’ve been recruited by Tennessee but that’s the first time I actually got to talk to their quarterback coach. I recently made a film at quarterback and it’s on YouTube now, and if you get a chance you can look at that, but it’s on YouTube and some of these coaches are starting to see that and that’s where I’m getting contacts from schools at, by seeing that video. I work with a quarterback coach in Alabama named David Morris.

BDN: Sure, he played in college, didn’t he?

Yeah, yeah, he played at Ole Miss, he played behind Eli Manning.

BDN: Well that’s definitely a great mentor to have.

Yeah, definitely.

QB Thomas Sirk says that Duke definitely stands out as a great opportunity for him

BDN: Do any schools stand out to you, that you have a good relationship with and you feel like there’s a good opportunity for you to play early?

Well Tennessee and Duke. I mean definitely Duke, when I went up to Duke and visited them this past weekend, their coaching staff, I came in there and they treated me very good, worked me out at the camp. I got to sit down in person and talk to Coach Cutcliffe and that’s when he offered me. I’ve been in touch with them all week after the camp. And Tennessee, I’m liking Tennessee right now, they’ve got a new facility going up and I like the town of Knoxville, too.

BDN: Do you have an idea for how or when you would like to narrow things down and make your decision?

Well I’m not making any decisions right now, I’m just kind of taking it all in right now. It will probably be the middle of my season before I make my decision. Right now I’m just trying to take it all in, like I said. Not trying to rush into anything, I’m seeing what’s further to come, what offers I get, what opportunities I have.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Thomas, and best of luck to you.

Ok, I appreciate it.

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Brookwood RB Nick Tompkins has a long list of offers, including Duke

Duke offers elite RB Nick Tompkins

Brookwood RB Nick Tompkins has a long list of offers, including Duke

After the emergence of young stars Desmond Scott, Josh Snead, and Juwan Thompson in 2010, the Blue Devils are looking for their next great back in the class of 2012. The Duke staff has been aggressive in recruiting elite running backs, including an offer to Georgia standout Nick Tompkins. Tompkins is a 5’10” 175 pound running back from Snellville, GA. After leading Brookwood to a 2010 state championship with 1,890 yards and 22 touchdowns, the speedy junior took home several postseason honors, including Offensive Player of the Year. Tompkins has stayed busy this spring with recruiting visits as offers continue to pour in for the elite athlete. Highlights from his junior year can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

My strengths, well, I have a lot of speed, I’m a speed back. I run low to the ground, I have very good vision and once I break through the line, I never get brought down. Even though I’m like 175, I still break tackles, I rarely go down on first contact, I’m a hard runner too.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

Just trying to get a little big bigger, get a little bit stronger. That’s really about it. Working on some route running because a lot of schools want to be able to use me in the slot also, they want to be able to use me as an all-purpose back.

BDN: What are some of your goals for yourself and your team in your senior season?

You know, try to win another state championship, go back-to-back, that’s all I would say.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

First and foremost the coaches, especially the coaches that I’ll be spending the most time with there. I want them to be good people, honest, you know just nice to be around. And also I look at the players, I also like to look at the up and coming class, the 2011 class, talk to some of those guys because those are the guys you’re going to be playing with. I also look at academics, I want to major in business so I’m looking for a school that has a good business school. I also look at the campus life and I’m looking for a place that could feel like home to me.

BDN: I know there are a lot of schools who have offered you, but which schools have you been in contact with the most often?

Maryland, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Indiana, I recently got offered by Michigan State yesterday, so I had actually been talking to them before and then they offered yesterday. Last week I kind of started talking to Florida State, they haven’t offered but they want me to come to camp.

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools, or do you have any visits planned?

I went to Georgia Tech’s spring game last weekend. The weekend before that I visited Arkansas. And I’ve visited Clemson. This next week I’ll be visiting Maryland for their spring game and then I’m planning to visit Boston College, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, Michigan State, Vanderbilt and a few other schools, so I’m going to be really busy the next few weeks and over the summer traveling.

BDN: You mentioned the coaching staff being one of the most important things you’re looking for in a school; are there any coaches that you feel you have a particularly good relationship with at this point in the process?

Well, Georgia Tech’s staff. The only three schools that I’ve visited that have offered are Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. Of those, I feel like Georgia Tech, I have a great relationship with their coaching staff. I’ve been up there three or four times now, know my way around quite well. I’ve built a great relationship with the coaches, I’ve talked to [Head Coach] Paul Johnson and know him personally. I’d say Georgia Tech has probably been the best in that aspect. But I’ve been getting mostly written letters from a lot of these other schools that have offered and I haven’t really got to talk to them in person because I haven’t visited them yet, so I’m going to wait and see how that goes.

BDN: You’ve obviously got a lot of great opportunities in front of you and you’ll be busy over the next few weeks and months; how and when do you plan on narrowing things down to make a decision?

Probably, definitely after I visit enough schools I’ll start narrowing it down by mid to end of June. Then I’ll try, my goal is to try and commit somewhere before my football season starts but I can’t guarantee that yet.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Nick, and best of luck.

Thanks, I appreciate it.

 

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

Blue Devils are among the first to offer Alabama DE Torey Agee

Duke and South Alabama are the first schools to offer DE Torey Agee

After finishing last in the ACC in sacks and rushing defense in 2010, Duke hopes to upgrade the defensive front in 2011 with a group of young linemen. While the fate of the 2011 Blue Devil defense rests with Coach Knowles and the players already on campus, the Duke staff continues to work the recruiting trail in search of future stars. Duke was among the first schools to offer a scholarship to a talented run-stopper from the state of Alabama. Torey Agee is a 6’4” 247 pound defensive end from Opelika, AL. The son of former Auburn fullback Tommie Agee, Torey helped Opelika to the playoffs as a junior and has impressed scouts on the spring combine circuit with his speed and technique. The Blue Devils are hoping to get Torey on campus this summer for a visit. Highlights from his junior year can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

I think my biggest strength is my ability to stop the run. I’m pretty explosive off the ball, so that’s my strong points.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

Big thing I’m working on is pass rush, finishing pass rush, stuff like that.

BDN: What are your goals for yourself and your team for your senior season?

This season I plan on leading my team in sacks and I think we have a good enough team to make it to state this year, so we’ll see how it all plays out.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

Most important thing for me when I’m deciding on college is academics, because that’s really big for me and my family. Any school that’s strong academically, that’s at the top of my list.

BDN: You stressed the importance of academics; is there a specific field that you’re interested in studying?

Right now I think my major is going to be computer engineering, but it could change at any time.

BDN: What are the other schools that you’ve been in contact with the most so far?

I’m getting a lot of interest from Auburn right now. Auburn, Georgia Tech, and South Alabama [USA].

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools so far?

I’ve visited USA, Auburn, Georgia Tech…that’s about it.

BDN: Do you have any other visits planned?

I might be taking a trip up to Duke in the summer, but other than that, none yet.

BDN: You said that you’ve been getting a lot of interest from Auburn. Being close to there and with your father’s history there, is that a program you’ve grown up following closely?

Oh yeah, you know growing up in my house I was always a big Auburn fan.

BDN: Are there any schools that you feel you have a good relationship with at this point in the recruiting process?

Yeah, USA, I think I have a pretty good relationship with the coaches down there, and Georgia Tech.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your final decision or how you would like to narrow your list down?

I plan on taking as long as possible to think this whole thing through, because it’s a huge decision and I don’t want to rush into anything.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

I broke my school’s power clean record.

BDN: That’s great. Thanks a lot, Torey, and best of luck to you.

Same to you, thank you.

 

Duke safety Matt Daniels is poised for an All-ACC senior season

BDN’s Football Friday!

It’s Friday afternoon, which can only mean one thing – Football Friday! This week, we take a look at Duke’s 2011 ACC opponents spring practices along with some recruiting updates. [private]

It’s a long one this week, so I won’t distract you with any witty opening filler. Let’s get right to it.

Matt Daniels named to Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List

Duke DB Matt Daniels strikes a pose for BDN Photo

That’s a mouthful of an accomplishment. Interestingly, there were 11 candidates from the ACC, more than any other conference. Daniels is a player that I’ve enjoyed watching develop over his four years in Durham, and I always feel like he has another level we still haven’t seen. Hopefully, this will be the year that he reaches that level and helps to turn around the Duke defensive unit. As one of the most versatile players on defense, his playmaking ability will be key to the Blue Devils’ success in 2011.

Scouting the ACC spring practices

With lots of transitions occurring on the sidelines and under center around the ACC this year, it may be a good opportunity for the Blue Devils to pull off a few upsets. Several teams will wrap up their 2011 spring practice this weekend with their spring games, so be sure to tune in to the ESPN family of networks to scout out some of Duke’s 2011 opponents (ESPN – you can email me for the address to mail my endorsement check). So sit back and enjoy a cold one while we take a whirlwind tour around the ACC. Oh wait, you’re still at work, so grab a cup of coffee instead? Anyway, here are some of the headlines from Duke’s 2011 ACC opponents this spring:

Boston College: the Eagles will be Duke’s first ACC opponent this fall, which may be a good thing for the Blue Devils. BC will return nearly all of their offensive starters, who will be operating under a new coordinator in Kevin Rogers. The emphasis so far this spring appears to be on the passing game, which has been inconsistent so far this spring. In the first scrimmage of the spring, Chase Rettig was on the same page with his receivers, and the BC offense finished with 5 touchdowns. In their second scrimmage, however, the defense had their way with the new offense, finishing with 4 interceptions and 4 sacks. BC will be a tough opponent, as we saw last year in Wallace Wade Stadium, mostly due to Montel Harris on the ground, and Luke Kuechly on defense. If Rettig and his receivers can develop consistency, BC will be a dangerous team for the entire ACC.

Florida State: most expect the Seminoles to be at the top of the ACC in 2011, and you can see for yourself on Saturday at 4PM on ESPN3. This team will go as far as QB E.J. Manuel can take them, and the indications this spring are pretty good. Manuel is the athletic signal-caller that has given the Blue Devils trouble in recent years. Perhaps the biggest question for the Seminoles will be their offensive line, where they will have to replace 2 starters and had 4 players out for spring practice. Overall, the Seminoles lost only 3 starters each on offense and defense, and the expectations are high in Tallahassee.

Wake Forest: the Deacs’ will hold their spring game on Saturday at 1 PM. After a disappointing 2010, Wake Forest loses 8 starters. Tanner Price is the unquestioned starter on offense and will be backed up by Ted Stachitas. Both players gave the Blue Devils trouble last year in a  54-48 loss in Winston-Salem. Much like the Blue Devils, the Deacs struggled mightily on defense last year, and Coach Jim Grobe has been pleased with the defensive intensity this spring. The running game will be led by Josh Harris and Brandon Pendergrass, but questions remain in the kicking game for Wake Forest. The expectation is for this team to be improved from a season ago, but in order for that to happen, they will have to show more consistency this fall than they have this spring.

Virginia Tech: the Hokies lose perhaps the most of any Duke opponent in 2011, but in Blacksburg, they reload, not rebuild. The defending ACC champs lose QB Tyrod Taylor along with RB Ryan Williams and RB Darren Evans to the NFL, leaving the Hokies’ offense in the hands of redshirt-sophomore Logan Thomas and junior tailback David Wilson. There have been rave reviews this spring for Wilson (even though he’s missed several practices due to track), who is working under first year running back coach Shane Beamer (yes, Frank’s son), after long-time assistant Billy Hite retired. The VT defense also has questions as they replace 5 starters from 2010, but the Blue Devils will have to keep the ball away from returning CB Jayron Hosley, who led the country with 9 interceptions and 17 defended passes in 2010.

Miami: lots of changes in Coral Gables this spring under new head coach Al Golden. The Hurricanes will hold their spring game on Saturday at 3 PM, and questions still remain heading into the fall. The coaching staff has been openly disappointed in the intensity and conditioning of many of the Miami players this spring, and Golden has left the depth chart up for grabs this spring. That includes quarterback, where Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris are battling for the starting job, though Spencer Whippel was the starter heading into the spring. We’ll get to see lots more from the Hurricanes, as they’ve struck a deal with ESPNU to air a series of All-Access shows this spring.

Virginia: the Wahoos wrapped up spring practice last week with nearly as many questions as answers. It’s a complete toss-up at quarterback, where the updated depth chart lists Michael Rocco and Ross Matheney in the “first group” and Michael Strauss and David Watford in the “second group.” In short, no one has established themselves as the leader of this offense this spring, and that has to be a concern for a team that loses 19 lettermen, including 5 starters. After a shootout in Wallace Wade Stadium last year, the Blue Devils will be glad to hear that QB Marc Verica and RB Keith Payne are among the starters lost. The Cavaliers’ defense should be improved from a year ago as they enter their second year in the 4-3 scheme, and will be anchored in the secondary by CB Chase Minnifield, who finished 2010 with 6 interceptions. Offensively, it’s tough to evaluate a team with 4 inexperienced potential starters at QB.

Georgia Tech: the Yellow Jackets are yet another ACC team who will be breaking in a new QB in 2011, as Tevin Washington takes over for Josh Nesbitt. The Blue Devils saw plenty of Washington in 2010 in their 30-20 loss in Atlanta. This spring, head coach Paul Johnson has been disappointed in the play of his offensive line, which returns three starters from a year ago. In addition to Nesbitt, the Jackets’ triple-option offense will have to replace Anthony Allen at B-back, but return Roddy Jones and Orwin Smith at A-back. Defensively, GT will have to replace 6 starters, but they do return all 3 starters up front in Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme. The front three will have to be the strength of this defense, and it has impressed the coaching staff this spring.

North Carolina: if you thought Bieber fever was annoying, wait until you meet the Tar Heels with Renner fever. Bryn Renner inherits the starting job at quarterback, and impressed the Tar Heel faithful with a 9/13, 123 yard performance in their spring game. The highlight was a 43-yard pass to Erik Highsmith, something UNC saw far less often during the T.J. Yates era. After a tumultuous 2010 and an ongoing NCAA investigation, the Tar Heels will have several new faces on both sides of the ball in 2011. Five starters depart on both offense and defense, which means that the few returning starters, such as senior DE Quinton Coples and senior TB Ryan Houston will have to shoulder (no pun intended) much of the load on defense and offense, respectively. Despite suffering a broken scapula in the spring game, head coach Butch Davis expects Houston to be an every-down back for the Tar Heels this fall.

 

Spring evaluation period starts today

Ok, I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted after that tour of the ACC. That took some serious work, and I didn’t even talk about NC State, Clemson, or Maryland. Anyway, recruiting gets back into full gear today, as the spring evaluation period opens up. So what does that actually mean? The Duke staff has 168 evaluation days to use between now and May 31. An evaluation day is a day spent in evaluation of a prospect’s athletic and/or academic ability. The staff is limited to 1 athletic evaluation and 1 academic evaluation per prospect during this time. So whom will the staff be visiting? Let’s take a look at the offers out there by position.

Bilal Marshall is the first 2012 QB with a Duke offer

Quarterbacks: we’ll start with the glamour position, and one that Duke has built into a strength for 2011 with Sean Renfree, Brandon Connette, and Anthony Boone. Miami’s Bilal Marshall remains the only quarterback prospect with a Duke offer, and we’ll check back in with him soon to get an update on his recruitment. There are 19 other QBs on the board, highlighted by names like Bart Houston, Casey Cochran, and Matt Johnson.

Running backs: Duke remains committed to taking at least one or two running backs in the class of 2012, and they’ve extended 7 offers with 17 other prospects under evaluation. Keith Marshall is at the top of every school’s list, but he’s joined by Todd Gurley, Dami Ayoola, Dondre Brown, Dontonio Jordan, Jay Jay McCullough, and Nick Tompkins as prospects with verbal offers.

Wide receivers: with Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon now upperclassmen, the Blue Devils will look to reload at receiver in the class of 2012. Seven receivers have verbal offers, which include Nelson Agholor, Jared Crump, Desmond Frye, P.J. Harris, Justin Johnson, Max McCaffrey, and Darius Powe. Twelve other receivers are on the Blue Devils’ list of 2012 prospects.

Tight ends: the Blue Devils’ got on the board early with a commitment from Erich Schneider, but remain in pursuit of top TEs Dan Beilinson, Kent Taylor, and Evan Baylis.

Linemen: as would be expected, linemen make up the majority of verbal scholarship offers to date. On the offensive line, Duke is looking to add a few top prospects and has extended 11 offers to players like Patrick DeStefano, Mark Harrell, D.J. Humphries, Andrew Jelks, Eric Olson, and Max Tuerk. The emphasis, however, is the defensive line, where Duke has extended 17 verbal offers to players like Allen Jackson (committed), Korren Kirven, D.J. Reader, Jordan Watkins, and Carlos Wray. In addition to the prospects with offers, Duke has over 40 other linemen on their recruiting board.

Linebackers: Duke is going hard after two linebackers in particular early in Keilin Rayner and Deion Williams. There are several others under evaluation, but the Blue Devils remain in good shape with those two players.

Secondary: the defensive secondary is another position of emphasis in the class of 2012, and the Blue Devils have extended offers to 13 prospects at cornerback and safety. In addition to players like Michael Summers, Albert Reid, Ron Geohaghan, and Dwayne Norman, the staff is evaluating another 15 prospects.

We’ll be back

Lots of recruiting coverage coming this week as the staff hits the recruiting trail and we tag along for the ride. No idea what we’ll talk about next week, so you’ll just have to come back to find out. As always, feel free to join in the discussion on our message board if you need a football fix before next Friday. WE ARE DUKE.

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Woodward Academy's Jordan Watkins is a highly coveted DE prospect

Georgia DE Jordan Watkins has a Duke offer, among many others

Woodward Academy's Jordan Watkins is a highly coveted DE prospect

While Duke is working 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. Several defensive line prospects have received verbal scholarship offers from the Blue Devils, including one of the top prospects in the state of Georgia. Jordan Watkins is a 6’6” 265 pound defensive line prospect from College Park, Georgia. As a junior at Woodward Academy, Jordan helped to lead the War Eagles to the state playoffs, finishing with a 10-2 overall record. The impressive defensive end has already received dozens of scholarship offers from national powers, including Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and dozens of other schools. Highlights of his junior season can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

Well, I think the biggest strengths for me, and my coaches have always stressed, is that God has blessed me with my size.  I’m 6’6”, 265 plus pounds, and also with that, that also means long arms as well.  So with long arms, I can keep blocks off of me, and get good extension on the offensive linemen.  And also as well, I’ve been blessed with good feet as well, and so the quick feet and good hands, I think they’re the 2 biggest things for me that I do well.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

The biggest thing is my strength.  I think that if I – to develop my strength a whole lot more then I can become a more complete player just from the fact that I’m playing both defensive end and defensive tackle, you know defensive end, you’re playing there, you can just kind of run, run the outside on people.  When you’re playing tackle, sometimes you have to beat the double teams and blocks like that, so I need to work on my strength.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

First for me would be from an academic standpoint, is, well I want my major to be either broadcast journalism or communications, so I’m looking for a school that has the best options for me in those fields, and then after that I look at the football standpoint, how good the team is and the prowess of the school, and also the support for the school. Those are the 2 big things that I’m looking at.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest, or have been hearing the most from?

The most, I think that’d be Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Alabama, those are the 3 main ones.  And then I think Auburn recently too.

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools so far?

I went to Alabama Senior Day Saturday, and I visited [Georgia] Tech today, actually.

BDN: How have those visits gone for you so far?

They’ve gone great.  With Alabama, I actually picked up an offer from Alabama, so, you know, that was a great feeling for me.  And Georgia Tech, I live so close to there, I’ve been there before, so today was more to try and gain some – I’m pretty sure academically everyone knows that Georgia Tech is an engineering school, things like that, so I was trying to see if there is anything they can offer me when it comes to broadcast journalism and communications, and what a lot of people don’t really know what Georgia Tech does have something to offer in that field, so it was a really good visit today.

BDN: Do you have any other visits planned for this spring or summer?

I have nothing set in stone yet, but I want to try to get some more school visits done.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to narrow things down or when you plan to make your college decision?

I’m trying to narrow it down, my coaches and my family, my parents down to about maybe 20, and then maybe by the fall or so trying to get it even lower down, maybe, like 15, 10, something like that. And then just keep going down from there, then when I feel comfortable where I want to go, then I’ll make my final decision.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jordan, and best of luck to you.

Okay, cool, thank you very much.

 

 

Previewing the Yellow Jackets II

#10 Duke (17-4, 5-2) hosts #21 Georgia Tech (16-5, 4-3) on Thursday February 4, 2010 as the Blue Devils and Yellow Jackets face each other for the second time this season. Georgia Tech prevailed 71-67 in the first game, which was played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, in Atlanta.

The Blue Devils will be looking to snap back strong after taking a pounding at the hands of the Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday afternoon. Duke has not lost two games in a row this season and has won previous games following a loss by an average of 14 points.

Three “keys to the game” were identified in the Blue Devil Nation preview prior to the first meeting. The same keys exist for this second meeting so let us revisit them one at a time taking a look at how they played out in Atlanta.

1. Defensive rebounding. Duke must keep Georgia Tech off the offensive glass and prevent second chance points.

Duke did an excellent job on the glass, during the first half, with 20 rebounds to the Yellow Jackets 12. Georgia Tech was limited to two offensive rebounds and two second chance points. Not surprisingly, Duke held a six point advantage, 35-29, at the half. In the second half, Georgia Tech dominated Duke on the boards 26-12, pulled in 11 offensive rebounds, and scored eight second chance points as they outscored the Blue Devils by ten points. The Yellow Jackets performance on the glass in the second half was the significant factor in securing the four point victory.

In the rematch at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke must do a better job of blocking out and beat Georgia Tech on the glass for a full 40 minutes. Staying out of foul trouble should be another objective for the Blue Devils as Lance Thomas fouled out of the first game with more than 10 minutes remaining.

2. Turnovers. With Georgia Tech’s suspect ball handling, look for Nolan Smith to apply pressure on the Yellow Jackets main ball handler. This is a game where Duke may look to trap the ball as it is brought across the half court line. Lance Thomas could be a key player if Duke opts to run a half court trap defense. The best way to neutralize Lawal and Favors down low is to prevent them from getting it down low.

Georgia Tech has suspect ball handling but in Atlanta they scored more points off turnovers (18) than Duke (15). While this key was not as significant to the Georgia Tech victory as their rebounding performance, it is important for Duke to do a better job in Durham if they expect to win the ball game.

3. Outside shooting. Georgia Tech’s strength is their inside play so look for Duke to try and open up the inside by knocking down the long ball. Duke is leading the ACC in 3 point field goal percentage at 42.6 percent and second in the league in 3 point field goals made with 8.6 per game.

Duke shot poorly in Atlanta going 6-28 on 3-point field goal attempts. In fact, Duke has shot poorly since ACC play began and they’ve fallen to third in the ACC in 3 point field goal percentage at 38.2 percent. Over the first seven ACC games, the Blue Devils are 34-119 or 28.6 percent on 3 point attempts.

The Blue Devils must rediscover their perimeter stroke in February and getting off to a great start against the Yellow Jackets tough defense would be timely. In Atlanta, Jon Scheyer scored 25 points; Mason Plumlee scored 10, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith contributed nine each, while Miles Plumlee added eight. This Thursday, Duke will need a similar strong performance from Scheyer and more scoring from Singler and Smith.

Additionally, Duke will need “points in the paint” so another 18 points and 11 rebounds performance from the Plumlee Brothers or similar numbers from seniors Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek will be necessary to balance the offense.

Andre Dawkins is another offensive weapon Duke hopes to get back on track. Dawkins was providing 10 points a game off the bench in the early part of the season but has been in a shooting slump so far in 2010. Reviving Dawkins could not only assist Duke in winning the Georgia Tech game but could be a key to the remainder of the 2010 season.

Here is a look at Georgia Tech’s main players and their statistics:

Junior Gani Lawal (6′9″ 235) averages 14.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. He is 13th in the ACC is scoring and 3rd in rebounds. Lawal has the 5th best field goal percentage at 55.2 percent. He scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the first game against Duke and proved to be the difference down the stretch.

Freshman Derrick Favors (6′10″ 245) averages 11.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Favors is 5th in the ACC in rebounds. In the first game, he contributed seven points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore Iman Shumpert (6′5″ 205) is back after missing six games with a knee injury. He averages 10.3 points and 4.1 assists per game, but also turns the ball over 3.3 times per contest. In the first game, Shumpert recorded eight points, three assists, and seven turnovers.

Freshman Mfon Udofia (6′2″ 185) and Senior D’Andre Bell (6’6” 220) are Georgia Tech’s fourth and fifth starters. Udofia averages 9 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.3 turnovers per game. Udofia scored 13 points and shot 50 percent (3-6) on 3 point field goal attempts in the first game. Bell averages 6.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers per game.

Senior Zachery Peacock (6′8″ 235) averages 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench for the Yellow Jackets. Peacock has the ability to step out to the perimeter and knock down jump shots. He is making 44.8 percent of his 3-point attempts on the season. Peacock contributed 11 points and four rebounds in the first game.

This is an important game for both teams. For Duke, it is imperative the Blue Devils secure a win to cement their position as the top team in the ACC. A second loss to the Yellow Jackets could result in a team with shaken confidence during the middle of the ACC season, which is not a good situation. A win over the Yellow Jackets would keep the Blue Devils on top of the ACC standings and allow the team to put the Georgetown loss behind them and focus on moving on toward tough road games at Boston College and North Carolina.

For Georgia Tech, a loss to the Blue Devils would drop their conference record to 4-4 and place them solidly amongst the muddy middle of the ACC standings. A second win over the Blue Devils would keep the Yellow Jackets competitive for a slot in the upper tier of the ACC standings and a Thursday bye in the ACC Tournament come March.