Welcome back to another edition of Friday Night Lights. This week Blue Devil Nation starts its roundup in Florida:
Parker Boehme threw four touchdown passes and rushed for a fifth as Sandalwood defeated Wolfson 41-12. Boehme completed 27 of 44 for 275 yards. This video clip includes one of Boehme’s touchdown passes. The Sandalwood highlights start at the 3:00 mark.
Fort Myers High School took to the road on Friday night, traveling to Naples to defeat Golden Gate High 37-23. Quarterback T.J. Douglas ran for 77 yards and three touchdowns.
Next up is the action which took place out on the West Coast:
In La Puenta, California, Darren Andrewsrushed for 78 yards including a 40-yard run on Bishop Amat’s first play from scrimmage in a 34-24 victory over La Mirada.
Joseph Ajeigbe rushed nine times for 148 yards and two touchdowns as Norco routed Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda 42-13. Ajeigbe scored on a 25-yard sweep in the 1st quarter and a 33-yard run in the 4th quarter.
After the game, Ajeigbe commented, “We are doing a good job of spreading the ball out more and utilizing all our weapons. Coach Gerhart scheduled good competition in pre-season so we can prepare for league play. The defense is doing a good job as well.”
Moving down to Georgia, Walker defeated North Cobb Christian 54-14. Walker defensive lineman Mike Ramsay told Blue Devil Nation, “Our game went great! We won 54-14. I recovered a fumble early in the game. We picked off a pass late in the 1st quarter and ran it back to go up 14-0. Our RB ran for 277 yards and 4 touchdowns.”
In Texas, Mansfield High beat Keller 35-0. Mansfield offensive lineman Austin Davis stated, ” We won 35 to 0! We dominated and rushed for 400 yards! Our defense did great. We did really good all around. I played a good game and muscled my man around! Go Duke!”
Finally, we finish this week’s edition with a look at action in Virginia:
This week’s Blue Devil Nation review of high school gridiron action starts with in-state verbal commit Quay Mann, who scored two touchdowns, on runs of 10 and 15 yards. Mann rushed nine times for 65 yards overall. Unfortunately, Tarboro defeated Mann’s Northern Nash team 47-35. When asked for his thoughts on the game, Mann told Blue Devil Nation, “It was a good game. We kept trading leads until the very end.”
Evrett Edwards’ Woodbridge (Va.) Vikings defeated the Franklin County Eagles 27-7. After the game, Edwards told Blue Devil Nation, “We played extremely well. I had a 46 yard kick return, four catches for 51 yards and three tackles.”
Also in Virginia, Jake Kite caught two passes for 41 yards as Hidden Valley shut out William Byrd 10-0.
Moving on to action from Florida, quarterback T.J. Douglas of Ft. Myers High racked up some impressive statistics in a 29-12 victory over Lehigh. Douglas completed eight of 14 passes for 135 yards, while scoring twice on one-yard runs. Douglas’s eight completions went to seven different receivers.
Also in the Ft. Myers area, Dunbar defeated East Lee County 45-0. Cornerback Johnell Barnes commented, “We started off a little slow, but in the second half we came out and dominated.”
In Jacksonville, quarterback Parker Boehme and Sandalwood defeated Baldwin 48-20. Boehme is #12 in these video highlights. This season preview states there are great expectations for Sandalwood this season.
Safety Jake Kite [Roanoke (VA) Hidden Valley] suffered cramps and had his left shoulder pop out of joint during Hidden Valley’s 24-21loss to Patrick Henry
Here is a nice article on wide receiver Terrance Alls [Hialeah (FL) Dade Christian] with a video interview. In addition to his wide receiver duties, Alls will be playing cornerback and returning punts and kickoffs For more click here
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.
Two weeks of Football Friday in a row? For what do we deserve such fortune, you ask? I guess it just seemed like the right thing to do. Or maybe because it’s New Beer’s Eve, one of America’s terrific obscure holidays. In all seriousness, though, thanks for reading and please spread the word that Blue Devil Nation is home of the best Duke Football coverage around.
Spring Game Recap
One - okay, three – important points to remember about last Saturday’s scrimmage.
1. It’s a spring game. The team is a work in progress; September 1st is still nearly five months away.
2. It’s a spring game. Several starters did not play; players with injuries have plenty of time to heal.
3. It’s a spring game. Duke played against Duke; who knows how they’ll look against another opponent.
All that being said, there was plenty to be excited about and a number of things to be concerned about based on Saturday’s performances. If you haven’t checked them out already, be sure to watch our video interviews with Coach Cutcliffe, Sean Renfree, Ross Cockrell, and David Reeves to get their thoughts on Duke’s spring.
Honestly, I don’t think it was a fluke that the starting defense outplayed the starting offense. Even without Kelby Brown, August Campbell, Kenny Anunike, and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, the white team defense took it to the blue team offense. And it was a balanced effort. The secondary, crucial to Duke’s 4-2-5 scheme, was particularly encouraging. Brandon Braxton looked comfortable at safety and led the way with 5 tackles, a number that was matched by his replacement, redshirt-freshman Chris Tavarez, who also forced and recovered a fumble late in the game. Jordon Byas and Walt Canty, two veterans at safety, also had strong efforts, each adding 3 tacklesincluding a tackle for a loss by Byas. Cornerbacks Ross Cockrell, Lee Butler, Anthony Young-Wiseman and Tony Foster held the blue team’s top receivers, Blair Holliday and Jamison Crowder, without a touchdown and to just 4 total catches on the day. Of course, it was Cockrell’s forced fumble on Josh Snead that was the play of the day and earned him defensive MVP honors. Kyler Brown and David Helton added strong performances from the linebacker position, and the Blue Devils will need them to continue to matuer ahead of schedule this fall. Duke was able to pressure the blue QBs from a number of positions, as DE Jamal Wallace registered a sack, while Braxton, Cockrell, and LB David Helton all were credited with a QB pressure. As with all things, it’s far from perfect, but the overall defensive effort appeared to be a big step in the right direction heading to the fall.
On the opposite side of the ball, there were plenty of flashes from individual players, but the blue team offense never seemed to be clicking on all cylinders – yet. Brandon Connette, the offensive MVP, certainly had a strong performance, highlighted by two powerful runs through the teeth of the defense to put the blue team on the scoreboard for the first time all afternoon, halfway through the 2nd quarter. Of note, he was also an efficient 4/7 through the air for 83 yards, including a 27-yard TD strike to Josh Snead. Speaking of Josh Snead, it was great to see him healthy and focused. His burst and speed was something that was lacking in Duke’s running game a year ago. All indications are that with the return of Snead alongside last year’s leading rusher Juwan Thompson and senior Desmond Scott, this should be Duke’s strongest running game under Coach Cutcliffe. We certainly saw flashes from some other players, such as David Reeves and Will Monday, all of which were encouraging. Perhaps most encouraging, however, was a glimpse at the increased tempo and diverse schemes utilized by the blue offense. It’s all still a work in progress, with much more to be added in terms of personnel and plays, but opposing defenses should have a lot to prepare for against this year’s Duke offense.
And finally, a look at the future. With the way the teams were divided, it was hard to take much of anything away from the matchup of the white offense against the blue defense, as both units were comprised primarily of walk-ons. Several walk-ons did have strong efforts, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see guys like Chris Hoover, Brandon Watkins and Eric Adams eventually play a few snaps in limited situations. Their blue-collar efforts are to be commended, and it was great for them to receive recognition. The scholarship players on those units, however, provide a nice glimpse into the future of the Blue Devil program. Obviously, freshman Thomas Sirk is the most notable, and he played well on Saturday. But before we crown him the starting QB, remember that most of his snaps came against an inexperienced defense and he still only played one year of quarterback in high school. All that being said, Sirk has the tools to compete for snaps in 2013, and given the depth issues at wide receiver, it’s too early to rule out lining him up out wide at some point this fall. Another strong performance was put in by redshirt-freshman WR Nick Hill, who has an excellent opportunity with the recent loss of senior WR Tyree Watkins. Defensively, Tim Burton, Britton Grier, and Sam Marshall all piled up tackles; they will push the starters on the depth chart for sure this fall, but realistically may be a year away from significantly contributing.
Ok, let’s get it out of the way. Sean Renfree had a forgettable spring game. He finished 10/23 for 104 yards with 2 interceptions. His first interception was a poor throw that shouldn’t be made by a redshirt-senior QB; the second was slightly more forgivable, as the ball appeared to be tipped into the waiting arms of Kyler Brown. Most concerning, however, was the apparent lack of rhythm with the new offense, and the lack of chemistry with some of the younger wide receivers. Fortunately, Renfree is his own biggest critic, and one of the hardest workers on this team; fully expect for him to put in the work to be ready for a strong senior campaign. After a big spring, WR Blair Holliday didn’t have the breakout performance many expected, and he and Jamison Crowder will have to emerge as consistent threats if Duke is to have any success moving the ball this fall.
The other biggest concern of the day was the play along the line of scrimmage. Neither the offensive nor defensive line was able to control the game, and I think there’s still a lot of work to be done along both units. The offensive line needs to get Brian Moore back at center, and the hope is that this group will be able to stay healthy and consistent this fall. They will have to be a stabilizing force for a potentially dynamic and at times unconventional offense. The defensive line remains the big weakness of this team, overall. Brandon Connette exposed the weakness up the middle on two big runs in the 2nd quarter. Hopefully, the return of Kenny Anunike and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, along with another year under Coach Petri, will allow this group to take a big step forward this fall.
Come on, you didn’t really think I was going to end on a down note, did you? I thought it might be more fun to discuss recruiting than to argue over whether or not to renew your season tickets, debate the temperature of the leather chair in Coach Cutcliffe’s office, or complain about play-calling. Just my opinion. I’m sure you can find a place to discuss those things.
As for recruiting, Duke locked up two more verbal commitments over the weekend, solidifying the defensive backfield in the class of 2013. Safety prospect Jake Kite is receiving rave reviews for a highlight video that has basically gone viral throughout the Duke Football fanbase. At 6’1,” the junior from Roanoke packs a heavy punch, and Duke fans should be very excited to watch this young man bring down opponents in Wallace Wade Stadium. About a month ago, BDN spoke with a little-known sleeper prospect from Nash County in Dequavais Mann. At 5’9″ and playing multiple positions for a Northern Nash team that finished 2-8 last year, Mann’s recruitment got off to a slow start. That changed quickly when the junior athlete posted a 4.42 second 40-yard dash at a recent combine, and showcased his abilities as a lockdown defender. Mann started lining up visits, starting with a return trip to Durham for the Duke Spring Game. The Blue Devils extended a scholarship and it took just two days for Mann to offer his commitment to Coach Cutcliffe. And the staff is keeping the pedal to the metal, hosting top Pennsylvania QB Chavas Rawlins on an unofficial visit in Durham yesterday.
Don’t expect things to slow down anytime soon; we’re just getting started. The spring evaluation period kicks off on April 14th and lasts through the end of May, nicely coinciding with most high school spring football schedules. With their own spring practice behind them, the Duke staff will be out in full force, evaluating dozens of prospects and checking up on others. We’ll then reach the height of the recruting season in June, as Duke hosts their annual football camps, an opportunity for serious evaluation for both the prospects and coaches. So in other words, if you want to keep up with the latest in Duke Football, now would be an excellent time to try out a BDN Premium Membership. Ok, that’s my pitch for the day.
I know, these columns get wordier and wordier. Though in person I’m known for brevity, my writing clearly is not. Check back next week for another helping of Football Friday, provided I am able to purchase a new ribbon for my typewriter. In the meantime, enjoy the Masters for you golf fans, Happy Easter to the Christians, and regardless of your interests or beliefs, I hope you all enjoy National Beer Day on Saturday. WE ARE DUKE.
The Blue Devils are officially on a roll in the class of 2013, picking up their 4th commitment over the past two weeks in safety Jake Kite. Kite is a 6’1″ 180 pound hard-hitter out of Roanoke, Virginia. The Blue Devils beat out in-state ACC rival NC State for Jake, the son of Chris Kite, a former UVA defensive back. Duke was the first school to extend a scholarship offer and made a strong impression on a visit earlier this spring. Kite was on hand for Duke’s Spring Game this weekend, and decided to make his pledge to Coach Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils. After his junior season at Hidden Valley HS in which he totaled 149 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 5 interceptions, Kite was named Regional Player of the Year and 1st Team All-State. He runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash and the Blue Devils hope he’ll become a star in Coach Knowles 4-2-5 defense.