We hope you all had a great Cinco de Mayo. We certainly did. Anyway, with the surprising retirement of Gary Williams and the spring signing period wrapping up, we understand that you’ve been distracted this week, but that’s no excuse for not joining BDN Premium so that you can get your inside look at Duke athletics. Also, if you don’t have BDN Premium, then you can’t read Football Friday, which means that this is the end of the ride for you. Cue the Oompa Loompas! [private]
You didn’t know you were going to be assigned homework when you started reading this article, did you? Too bad. I’ll keep this week’s article short so that you will have time to complete the following assigned reading.
When I first started writing this column, I intended to include a section of noteworthy links each week, and to this point, I haven’t really followed through on that idea, mostly because there hasn’t been much to read this offseason. This week, however, I came across two important articles to read. As most of you know, Al Featherston is a great friend to BDN and also one of the most knowledgeable Duke writers around. This spring, we’ve touched briefly on some of the hopes and concerns for the new Duke defense, but not nearly to the depth of Al’s recent article for GoDuke. It’s a must read for Duke football fans, and gives some insight into the strategy Duke will apply this fall, straight from the mouth of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The 4-2-5 defense is an interesting strategy that is based on the concept that speed will be a strength for the Blue Devils. It also should be noted that TCU is one of the more successful programs to implement a 4-2-5 defensive scheme.
The second development this week is the letter sent from the Justice Department to the NCAA regarding the BCS system. While there may not be a formal investigation into the BCS at this time, the letter clearly outlines the potential antitrust issues. The questions raised by the letter should be thought-provoking to the NCAA and college football fans. What are the advantages of the BCS for schools, student-athletes, and fans? What are its disadvantages? And of course, what might an alternative system look like, and how would that affect a program like Duke? Sounds like great material for the message board.
Duke recruiting genetics?
In recent years, the Duke men’s basketball program has enjoyed the benefits of genetics – Gerald Henderson, Nolan Smith, Seth Curry, and Austin Rivers are all the sons of former NBA stars. In the class of 2012, the Duke football program is targeting a group of football legacies, hoping that at least part of NFL stardom is genetic.
Patrick DeStefano: the 6’4” 275 pound offensive lineman from Roebuck, South Carolina is the son of former Blue Devil and NFL offensive lineman Frank DeStefano. The versatile prospect is one of the hardest workers in the class of 2012 and plans to lead Dorman back to the state championship this fall. With over a dozen scholarship offers, DeStefano has his choice of ACC and SEC schools, and plans to narrow his list down later this spring.
Max McCaffery: the 6’2” 180 pound wide receiver prospect from Highlands Ranch, Colorado is the son of former NFL and Stanford WR Ed McCaffrey, Max is also the nephew of former Duke men’s basketball player Billy McCaffrey, who transferred to Vanderbilt after the 1991 National Championship. Max and his younger brother, Christian (a rising sophomore running back) will look to lead Valor Christian to their third state championship this fall. Max currently has scholarship offers from Duke, Wake Forest, and Arizona State.
Woody Baron: the 6’3” 250 pound defensive end prospect from Brentwood, Tennessee is the nephew of former Virginia Tech defensive tackle James Baron, who later played briefly in the NFL and for several years in the AFL. A 2011 Finalist for Mr. Football in Tennessee, Woody finished his junior year with 50 tackles and 17 sacks at Brentwood Academy. With family ties to Virginia Tech, the Hokies may be tough to beat in this recruitment, but Duke was one of the first schools to offer the top prospect.
Torey Agee: the 6’4” 247 pound defensive end prospect from Opelika, Alabama is the son of former Auburn star fullback Tommie Agee. A talented run-stopper, Torey hopes to work on his pass rush this fall at Opelika. The Blue Devils joined South Alabama as the first to offer the talented junior, who now has 5 scholarship offers and interest from Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Nick Davidson: the 6’7” 270 pound offensive lineman from Eden Prarie, Minnesota is the son of former Ohio State and NFL lineman Jeff Davidson. Nick moved to Minnesota this spring from Charlotte, North Carolina, after his father left the Carolina Panthers to become the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings. With 14 scholarship offers already, Nick will have his choice of schools throughout the country, though he's still waiting for an Ohio State offer.
With high school spring practices kicking off across the country, the Duke staff has been busy on the recruiting trail. We’ll have lots of recruiting coverage coming up next week, so be sure to check back in with Blue Devil Nation. As for the current Blue Devil team, we wish them best of luck as they wrap up their finals and take a well-deserved break. Of course, we also with the seniors well as they prepare to graduate on May 15. Duke’s first summer session begins on May 18 and several members of the class of 2011 will be on campus for the first time.
We promised a short column so that you could get to your assigned reading. Have a great week and be sure to chime in on the 4-2-5 defense or the BCS on the BDN premium message board. WE ARE DUKE.
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.
If you haven’t joined BDN Premium yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. My wit and insight alone are worth the price of admission. Well, not really. It’s more like you get all of watzone’s scoop, Andrew Slater’s recruiting analysis, a great Duke message board community, and then my column is that last add-on in the infomercial that they throw in to close the deal. I’m the booklight that comes with your Snuggie. But seriously, it’s April and I can’t find a way to keep these columns any shorter. I guess that’s a good thing, as it means there’s still a lot of activity around Duke football. Thanks for joining us for another thrilling installment of BDN’s Football Friday. [private]
Sorry about the title, I thought it was a good line, until I realized well, it's not. Oh well, let's see you come up with something better.
Tyree Glover dismissed from program
This is old news now, but Tyree Glover was arrested on Tuesday in Durham and charged with trafficking cocaine. After a search of his dorm room, he was also found to be in possession of marijuana and was held in jail in lieu of $750,000 bond. Legal experts would know better, but I believe the trafficking charge for the amount of cocaine he possessed is a class G felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 42 months in prison and $50,000 fine. As would be expected, Coach Cutcliffe acted swiftly in dismissing Tyree from the program for “conduct unbecoming of a member of the program.” As a sophomore, Glover played in 11 games for Duke and started the September game at Wake Forest. It’s an unfortunate development for the program, both as a knock on Duke’s reputation and a loss of depth at linebacker. While I hate to try and find a bright side in situations like this, Glover’s dismissal will open up another scholarship this fall, which could certainly help with only 12 players in their final year of eligibility. Though his serious lack of judgment is indefensible, we all certainly hope that Tyree is able to turn things around for himself.
NFL Draft set for Thursday
The Blue Devils sent four players to the NFL in 2010, though none were taken in the NFL Draft. Duke has several NFL hopefuls again this year, and the Blue Devil Nation will be pulling to hear their names called on Thursday. At Duke’s annual Pro Day, DE Patrick Egboh, OG Brandon Harper, TE Brett Huffman, WR Austin Kelly, TE Brandon King, LB Abraham Kromah, CB Chris Rwabukamba, and LB Damian Thornton worked out for NFL scouts, and a few have had additional workout invites in recent weeks. In all likelihood, the Duke seniors may have to work their way into the league again this year via the free agent and training camp invite routes. Next to winning games, establishing players in the NFL is essential to help the Blue Devils recruit elite athletes.
Spring practices wrap up this weekend
The last of ACC spring practices will wrap up this weekend, and the ACC coaches held their spring conference call earlier this week. Since we toured around the ACC in last week’s Football Friday, we won’t do it again. Much of what we discussed last week still holds true: QB battle will head into August in Miami, Virginia Tech expects David Wilson to be very good, etc. Boston College expects to have Montel Harris back for the fall, but he was held out of their spring game for precautionary reasons, so we’ll keep an eye on his health as we head towards September.
As for Duke, Coach Cutcliffe didn’t have much to add, given that Duke wrapped up spring practice nearly a month ago. He reiterated the team’s youth, especially along the defensive front, where 10 of 15 players are underclassmen. He’s excited about the speed on defense and thinks that Coach Knowles did a good job with personnel assignments this spring, which we can only hope will continue into the fall. We’re all excited to see this Duke offense, as it has the potential to be great with an improved and consistent running game, along with three competent quarterback options.
But back to the defensive front, as that’s what makes me lose sleep at night. Coach Cutcliffe reiterated that he hopes to play up to 9 guys along the defensive front, which is an interesting concept. When was the last time Duke had that many ACC caliber defensive linemen? Are there teams that routinely use that many players along the defensive front? Of course, any team with decent depth rotates guys in and out, but I get the impression that Cutcliffe hopes to have 8 or 9 guys who play significant snaps each game. It’s really an intriguing strategy, given the group of players Duke currently has. With so many young first or second-year players up front, and with no clear-cut All-ACC caliber player(s), why not try to get 20-30 good snaps out of each guy? The most obvious benefit is that it will hopefully keep the unit fresh for late in games, but it also reduces the amount of pressure on each individual player. I’m sure there’s both advantages and disadvantages to this potential rotation, but I’m interested to hear your thoughts (message board, anyone?).
As you might imagine, we haven’t heard much from the Duke staff this week, as the assistants have been on the recruiting trail. With the opening of the spring evaluation period last Friday, Coach Cutcliffe and the staff made calls to many of the high priority recruits to re-affirm Duke’s interest. It never hurts to be the first coach in a prospect’s ear, and Duke hopes it will pay dividends with some spring and summer commitments. Speaking of commitments, Coach Cutcliffe has mentioned his desire to have the class of 2012 essentially set by the start of the season, which some fans may have concerns about (the author included). We all know that many elite prospects, whether in basketball or football, tend to drag their recruitment out until the last possible minute. If Duke fills up its scholarships in August, it doesn’t leave much room for the January or February commitments. With a small class this fall, Duke doesn’t have a lot of margin for error, so it does make sense for the Blue Devils to try to secure the majority of their class by the fall. I don’t think Duke will be done with recruiting before the season, but it would be nice if they can get their commitment list into the double digits, hopefully leaving the remaining scholarships for some late-deciding elite talent. As we say on the message boards, just my .02.
So last week I name-dropped all over the place with recruiting, but none of it was very Watzonian. There’s so many names in football recruiting and things change so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Trust me, I know. You talk to a kid from Oregon and he tells you he plans to take some officials in the fall before he makes a decision and then two days later he commits. No names, of course. Anyway, who are some of the players that Duke seems to have a good chance with at this point in the process? Let’s take a look:
QB: With only one offer extended so far, Duke seems to think they have a good chance with Bilal Marshall, and that seems like a reasonable assumption as this point. When we last heard from him, he was favoring Wake Forest, mostly because they were the first to offer and the only school he had really visited to date. That remains the case, though he is mostly wide open. The hope is that Duke can get Marshall on campus this summer, perhaps for Coach Cutcliffe’s QB College, and then go from there. This is a situation not unlike basketball, where if Duke loses out on Marshall, they could have a lot of ground to make up with some of the other QB prospects. That being said, the chance to play for the mentor of Peyton and Eli Manning is still pretty attractive. With the play of Connette and Boone this spring, it’s also not a requirement that Duke takes a QB in this class.
RB: If I said it’s not a requirement that Duke takes a QB in this class, then I have to say that it is a requirement to take at least one RB in this class. So I think we’ve established that Keith Marshall is a long shot, and I would add that Dami Ayoola and Nick Tompkins might be as well, since both already have double digit offers. We heard from Dontonio Jordan and Todd Gurley this week that Duke remains in the mix for them, and there’s still a long way to go in both of their recruitments. As for the South Carolina prospects, Duke is Dondre Brown’s only offer to date, while Jay Jay McCullough has an offer from in-state Clemson, which might be tough for any school to overcome, but we'll hear from him tomorrow.
WR: This is a tough group to really evaluate, as several have yet to visit Duke’s campus, which is never a good omen, though a few are from the West Coast, which makes it more understandable. We’ll hear from Justin Johnson over the weekend, and Duke is very much in the mix for his services. Of those on the East Coast, we’ll also hear from Jared Crump this weekend, and P.J. Harris and Desmond Frye are recent Duke offers.
TE: Duke remains in the mix for Dan Beilinson and already has a commitment from Erich Schneider.
OL: Duke has made a good impression on Andrew Jelks, Eric Olson, and Max Tuerk. In fact, I just heard from Eric that he will be on campus this weekend in Durham. Don't get excited about D.J. Humphries. I'm working on hearing from some of the new OL names.
DL: D.J. Reader and Carlos Wray have made multiple visits to Durham, and Duke has impressed Korren Kirven and Matt Godin, though Godin is a lifelong Michigan fan with a Wolverines offer. We’ll hear from Sheldon Rankins and Nigel Williams this weekend, two other good looking prospects with Duke offers, who appear to have some interest in the Blue Devils.
LB: Deion Williams and Keilin Rayner are at the top of the list and both have Duke near the top of theirs at this point in the process. Would be nice to get one of these guys on board soon.
DB: Dwayne Norman will be making a decision this spring and it looks like it is down to Duke and South Carolina. Derek Jones has a good relationship with Miami’s Larry Hope. Duke was among the first to offer MarQuise Jones, Albert Reid, and Jonavaughn Williams. Would also be nice to get a DB on board soon.
Kicker: I didn’t mention this last week, but I see that it’s up on another site, so I’ll address it. Duke will, in all likelihood, need to take a placekicker in the class of 2012. Two in-state players, Paul Griggs and Brad Pinion, have both visited Duke and like the Blue Devils. With few scholarships available, it would be nice to be able to find a walk-on kicker, but it may be necessary to offer a scholarship in order to get an elite one. We’ll also have to see exactly where Will Monday is with his placekicking when he gets on campus this fall. Monday is expected to challenge Alex King for the starting punter job.
As you can see, the potential is there for Duke to put together a really good class in 2012, with almost all of the prospects mentioned likely to be rated as three starts or higher. The next few months are the critical period, as Duke will look to close out the recruitment with some of these players and receive commitments before the start of their senior year. We’ll do our best to stay on top of football recruiting and bring you the best, most efficient coverage around. Feel free to jump in with your thoughts, questions, etc. on the message board. Until next week, WE ARE DUKE.