Tag Archives: Max McCaffrey


Football Friday: Wide Receiver Competition

DSC_0050-001Duke's primary offensive formation features a single running back, a tight end and three wide receivers. Max McCaffrey is the lone returning starter at the wide receiver position resulting in two open starting slots.

A balanced offensive attack has been key to Duke's success over the past several seasons. In 2014, the Blue Devils scored 47 touchdowns from scrimmage with 23 coming through the air and 24 on the ground. On plays from scrimmage, Duke passed the ball 49 percent and ran 51 percent of the time. Duke gained 2,814 yards through the air, while rushing for 2,364.

While an increased emphasis on the running game is expected in 2015, maintaining offensive balance via the passing game will be a prime objective for Head Coach David Cutcliffe and Offensive Coordinator Scottie Montgomery. When the running game is clicking, the play action pass becomes a valuable weapon.

Max McCaffrey has 65 career receptions for 698 yards and seven touchdowns. He is a sure handed receiver capable of working in minimum space over the middle of the field. McCaffrey recorded a career best seven receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns in Duke's 41-3 victory over Kansas. He has started 25 games over his first three seasons as a Blue Devil.

The receiving corps will be young so McCaffrey leveraging his experience to provide on field and locker room leadership will be vital to ensuring the receivers maximize their productivity.

Johnell Barnes' bio at GoDuke.com lists him as a starting wide receiver and he is the odds on favorite to be a top receiver in 2015. Barnes has shown flashes of brilliance over his first two years so a break out season as a junior would not be a surprise. Barnes is a strong runner who can gain significant yards after catching the ball.

As a true freshman, in 2013, Barnes averages 14.5 yards per reception with a long of 50 yards. His yards per reception decreased to 10.3 during the 2014 season, but his total number of catches increased. Barnes has caught 38 passes for 454 yards and one touchdown over the first two seasons of his career.

Chris Taylor is a redshirt freshmen who has impressed the staff since his arrival on campus prior to the 2014 season. His bio at GoDuke.com lists him as a starting wide receiver. Taylor has good size at 6'1" with all reports leaking out of practice indicating he is an excellent route runner who possesses all the requisite physical skills to develop into a special player.

When practice opens in August; McCaffrey, Barnes and Taylor will be designated as the starters. Will they be the starters in New Orleans on September 3? The question this article seeks to explore: who steps up and challenges for one of those starting spots?

Here are the candidates wide receivers coach Jeffrey Farris has to work with:

Anthony Nash is 6'5" and fast. Those are tremendous physical skill sets, which set him up to compete to become an impact player. He is currently listed as a second string wide receiver. Nash, a rising redshirt junior, has caught five passes for 47 yards in 16 career games. He has the tools to be a deep threat, which can stretch defenses vertically, if he can take the next developmental step. Nash is definitely a player to keep an eye on in 2015.

Trevon Lee is a highly thought of redshirt freshman currently listed as a second string wide receiver. He was considered a leading candidate to play as a true freshmen last season but remained on the sidelines due to Duke being deep and talented at wide receiver. Lee will see the field and produce results in 2015.

Ryan Smith is currently listed as the second string slot receiver. He played as a true freshman and has caught three passes for 41 yards. He has returned four punts for 90 yards. Smith struggled with an ankle injury for part of 2013. In the victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta, he recovered two Yellow Jackets onside kicks to help preserve Duke's lead.

Quay Chambers is another big receiver at 6'3" 220. He spent his redshirt freshman year at quarterback before transitioning to wide receiver in the Spring of 2014. Coach Cutcliffe described him as an exceptional athlete back in August 2013 after Chambers ran 63 yards for a touchdown in a team scrimmage. Chambers possesses explosive big play potential and seems tailor made to see action as the motion receiver, a position where his running abilities could be utilized via the jet sweep or end around.

Terrence Alls had a terrific spring practice highlighted by his being named most improved offensive player. Unfortunately, he was subsequently suspended from game competition for a violation of team rules so his status for the 2015 season is currently unknown. His status is expected to be updated prior to the season commencing, but there is no guarantee.

And there are two true freshmen on the roster who will head to practice in August intent on jumping over the competition to earn immediate playing time:

T.J. Rahming shined at the U.S. Army All American Bowl scoring two touchdowns against top level talent. He is dimunitive at 5'10" 165 so adding strength will have to be a priority for his development. Rahming is an interesting situation as his size definitely singles him out as a redshirt candidate; however, his talent level indicates he could make an immediate impact.

Aaron Young is 6'2" 200 and a redshirt candidate in 2015.

The 2015 receiving corps will be a young group, but they are a group with a great deal of unproven talent which equates to unlimited potential or a high ceiling. It will be important for the group to take advantage of the favorable early season schedule, four home games in a row after the opener at Tulane, to work out the kinks in order to be firing on all eight cylinders when the calendar turns to October and the conference schedule starts in earnest.

Football Friday: Wide Receiver Competition


Duke vs Tulane Preview

DSC_0108Duke vs Tulane
12:30 PM ET
Saturday, September 20
Durham, NC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 112 and XM Ch 201
Duke in 2014: 3-0
Tulane in 2014: 1-2


QUESTIONABLE - Dezmond Johnson (DE), Lucas Patrick (OG)
OUT – Dan Beilinson (TE), Johnathan Lloyd (CB), Trip McNeill (OL), Jake Sanders (OL)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)

TULANE INJURIES - not available

Duke and Tulane last faced each other on September 24, 2011 in a game Duke won 48-27 at Wallace Wade Stadium. Tulane leads the overall series 2-1 with wins over Duke in 1964 and 1973. Duke defeated Kansas 41-3 last week, while Tulane defeated Southeastern Louisiana 35-20.


Executing on special teams, achieving balance on offense and ball hawking on defense will be the paths to success for Duke this Saturday.

In Tuesday press conference, Head Coach David Cutcliffe emphasized his desire to pin teams inside the 15 yard line on kick-offs. Look for Duke to use Jack Willoughby to hang the ball up just in front of the goal line in an effort to force Tulane to start their offensive possessions inside the 20 yard line. Moreover, Tulane is averaging 30.6 yards per punt on the season so Duke has an opportunity to exploit this weakness to win the field position battle.

When talking Duke and offense, balance is the key. Duke is averaging 510 yards offense per game through three games with 262.7 of those yards coming via the run game and 247.3 yards via the passing game. Not surprisingly, everyone is buzzing about the emergence of freshman running back Shaun Wilson and his record setting performance against Kansas; however, Duke starts three talented receivers who have the skills to burn the opponent's defense. Taking a look at the season statistics to date: Max McCaffrey has 16 receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns; Jamison Crowder has 16 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns; Issac Blakeney has 13 receptions for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Add in proven upperclassmen running backs Josh Snead and Shaq Powell, and Duke has a laundry list of options the opponent must account for when designing a defensive game plan. Involving all the offensive options to keep Tulane guessing is how Duke will achieve success.

On defense, Duke must pressure Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee and force him to make mistakes. Lee has thrown six interceptions in three games so it is imperative Duke mixes up coverage looks to confuse Lee while simultaneously bringing the heat to hurry him up. If Duke can force Lee out of his comfort zone, odds are he will make mistakes. It is up to Duke's defensive playmakers to capitalize on Lee's mistakes.


Turnovers and Tulane's speed are the two things Duke needs to be concerned with on Saturday. Duke has not turned the ball over in their first three games and that needs to continue for Duke to achieve success against the Green Wave. If Duke gets sloppy with the ball, the results could be disastrous. Tulane will be the fastest team Duke has faced in 2014 so Duke must be prepared to counter speed with speed and solid fundamentals. Players must execute their assignments and tackle and block with precision. Tulane has the speed to convert a small mistake into a big advantage.


The Blue Devils are looking to wrap up the out-of-conference schedule with a victory to improve to 4-0 on the season and equal last season's non-conference record. After being held to 14 yards on two receptions last week, Jamison Crowder will crank up his star power and combine with quarterback Anthony Boone to lead the stacked Blue Devils offense to victory.

On defense, Duke will emphasize keeping the plays in front of them to limit explosive opportunities to Tulane's offense, while mixing in blitz packages in an effort to create turnover opportunities.

Finally, Duke will utilize superior athleticism to dominate on special teams to win the vital field position battle. With Tulane facing a long field and Duke playing on a short field it will be a long afternoon for the Green Wave.


Duke has too many offensive weapons for Tulane to handle. Add to the mix a Blue Devils defense that has allowed opponents to score only 10 points in the 2nd half through three games, against a turnover prone Tulane offense and this event ends up as a game where Duke opens it up in the 4th quarter to win by four touchdowns.

Duke 38, Tulane 10

Duke WR Max McCaffrey hauled in 2 TDs on Saturday against Kansas.

Max McCaffrey and DeVon Edwards discuss Duke’s big win

DURHAM - Duke WR Max McCaffrey fought his way into the end zone twice on Saturday as the Blue Devils topped the Kansas Jayhawks, 41-3. McCaffrey led all Blue Devil receivers with 79 yards and 7 catches on the day. Defensively, All-American safety DeVon Edwards had another big day, hauling in the Blue Devils' first interception on the young season. He finished with 7 tackles. Blue Devil Nation caught up with both McCaffrey and Edwards shortly after Duke's big victory to move to 3-0.



BDN Quick Hitter – Max McCaffrey ready for expanded role

SONY DSCOne of the key things to watch this pre-season is which wideouts step up to fill the void left by the departed Conner Vernon.  Blue Devil Nation spoke with Max McCaffrey about that earlier today as Duke Football opens practice for the coming season.


A lot of pre season buzz suggests you will have to step into Conner Vernon's role from a season ago. Are you prepared for that?

I feel prepared for it and there is no pressure. Conner was a good role model and he helped prepare me and I have been able to ease in having played last season.

How is your game different from Conner?

I think we are a lot different actually. Conner was a great player but I am just excited to go out and play. He was good at the deep ball and where he would use his speed to break off of the defenders, I use more of my body to do so.

You've had family members attend or that are familiar with Duke ...

I have had a lot of family members come to Duke and they've all been happy with my decision. My younger brother was a recruit here too, and my Dad and all are real supportive.

Do you deal with mental pressure in trying to fill roles open from a season ago?

I don't necessarily feel pressure but it is definitely another role and I feel like I need to produce now. So I need to imprint the guys below me and try to start becoming a leader for this years team.

You have caught balls from Sean Renfree and Boone.  How do the two differ?

Boone and Renfree are definitely two different quarterbacks. I think Boone can make plays that aren't necessarily there in the running game. I am used to passing with him in that he's the player I was paired with in practice a lot last season, so I am looking forward to see what will happen this year.


Duke Football Signing Day 2012


It's Signing Day for Duke Football! Coach Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils officially will welcome the class of 2012 into the Duke family today. BDN has all the coverage, including Mark Watson live at Coach Cutcliffe's afternoon press conference.

National Letters of Intent Received

TE Erich Schneider
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 220 pounds
High School: Episcopal
Hometown: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #151 WR

TE Dan Beilinson
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 240 pounds
High School: Panther Creek
Hometown: Cary, North Carolina
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #22 TE

OL Casey Blaser
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 255 pounds
High School: South Mecklenburg
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #105 OT

K Ross Martin
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 190 pounds
High School: Walsh Jesuit
Hometown: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #2 K

DL A.J. Wolf
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 245 pounds
High School: Hackley
Hometown: Tarrytown, New York
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #167 DE

DL Allen Jackson
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 235 pounds
High School: McDonough
Hometown: Owings Mills, Maryland
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #86 DE

DL Carlos Wray
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 280 pounds
High School: Shelby
Hometown: Shelby, North Carolina
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #94 DE

WR Anthony Nash
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 180 pounds
High School: Bayard Rustin
Hometown: West Chester, Pennsylvania
ESPN ranking: 2 stars, #187 WR

ATH DeVon Edwards
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 170 pounds
High School: Alcovy
Hometown: Covington, Georgia
ESPN ranking: Not Available

OL Tanner Stone
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 280 pounds
High School: Highland Park
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
ESPN ranking: 2 stars, #163 OG

SAF Michael Westray
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195 pounds
High School: Westlake
Hometown: Waldorf, Maryland
ESPN ranking: 2 stars, #168 SAF

WR Max McCaffrey
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190 pounds
High School: Valor Christian
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
ESPN ranking: 2 stars, #232 WR

DL Michael Mann
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 220 pounds
High School: Valor Christian
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #122 DE

SAF Dwayne Norman
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195 pounds
High School: University Christian
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #50 SAF

RB Jela Duncan
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 190 pounds
High School: Mallard Creek
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #40 RB

SAF Corbin McCarthy
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 200 pounds
High School: Norco
Hometown: Norco, California
ESPN ranking: 2 stars, #143 SAF

LB Deion Williams
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 225 pounds
High School: Lutheran
Hometown: Orange, California
ESPN ranking: 2 stars, #7 FB

LB Keilin Rayner
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 215 pounds
High School: North Brunswick
Hometown: Leland, North Carolina
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #74 OLB

RB Shaquille Powell
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 196 pounds
High School: Bishop Gorman
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
ESPN ranking: 3 stars, #56 RB

Dwayne Norman signs his NLI










Jela Duncan picks Duke on National Signing Day













Casey Blaser signs his NLI
Valor Christian DE Michael Mann committed to Duke over the weekend.

Valor Christian DE Michael Mann recaps his official visit for BDN Premium

With the recent decision by Terrell Jackson to re-open his recruitment, the Blue Devils find themselves looking to bulk up their defensive line in the class of 2012. With that in mind, Duke hosted Valor Christian DE Michael Mann on an official visit over the weekend. Originally committed to Arizona State, Mann opted to re-open his own recruitment after the coaching staff change in Tempe. A teammate and close friend of Duke WR commit Max McCaffrey, the Blue Devils have had Mann on their radar for awhile. The 6’4” 220 pound DE prospect is coming off his third straight Colorado HS Championship and spoke with BDN shortly after his visit to Durham. [private]

BDN: How did your official visit to Duke go?

I’m at the airport right now; I just got done with my visit. It was a fun weekend. It was a lot of fun. They did a great job of hosting it. Definitely the high points were the basketball game, getting to walk around and see the campus for the first time, and just hanging out with the coaches, they are some great guys, they’re funny, and we got along really well.

BDN: You had originally committed to Arizona State. Can you talk a little about how Duke entered your recruitment and when you first heard from them?

Definitely. I committed to Arizona State in the summer and I was all set and ready to go, but due to the coaching changes and all that stuff, it really opened up things for me. I re-opened my recruitment. It turns out that my best friend, I think you know him, Max McCaffrey, he goes to my school and he lives right next door. He committed to Duke as well. He’s a great kid and it would be really fun to come with him. But that’s how I got introduced to Coach Lubick. He was out here and was able to see me play and he liked me and that’s kind of how Duke got a hold of me.

BDN: What other schools are you considering at this point?

I took an official visit to Colorado State last weekend. It’s definitely CSU, Duke, and UCLA. I can still go to Arizona State but I don’t really want to because of the new coaching staff, they want me to gray shirt and all this weird stuff.

BDN: It’s obviously always a tough situation when there’s a coaching change. What will be the most important factors as you sit down and make your final decision?

Yeah. After being at Duke, my priority is definitely to get an education first. I’m going to college to get an education. AS much as I’d like to play in the league, I’m going to put forth my best effort, but I want to be realistic and know that I’m probably going to rely on my degree one day. That’s very important to me. I want to go into business, so I want a good business school and a good education. Next for me would be the football aspect. And last would be socially and the location. Those are the factors that will definitely come into play when I make this big decision.

BDN: Do you have an idea when you would like to make that final decision?

I’d like to make it definitely soon. Duke is going to call me, they’re going to keep in touch with me. I’m anxious to hear something from them in the next few days, it could be as early as tonight, it could be by Tuesday, to know officially what I’ve got going on with Duke.

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

I appreciate that, sir, thank you so much.