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Duke-football

BDN Football Friday: Spring update, to ease the pain

Duke hosted Mallard Creek WR Marquez North earlier this spring

It has been suggested that writing a spring update on Duke Football might help make the nightmares about mountain hawks go away, so here it is. In fact, there’s actually a lot to be excited about with regards to Duke Football. Yeah, yeah, we always say that and then we’re all disappointed come the fall. But you’ve got to see the forest instead of the trees, people!

Recruiting off to a hot start

Ok, show of hands. How many of you just went and checked the Duke 2013 commitment list when you read that sub-headline? Or, another way of asking the same question, how many of you have been following Duke Football recruiting during basketball season? Well, either way, you’ve probably figured out that Duke has yet to secure a verbal commitment in the class of 2013. (Saturday afternoon edit: Duke landed a commitment from QB Quay Chambers and OL Austin Davis this morning)

So, how can recruiting be off to a hot start? Generally speaking, you’ve got to get a prospect on campus if you have any hope of landing a commitment, and Coach Cutcliffe and his staff have hosted an impressive list of visitors already this spring. In fact, Duke has already had more than 10 members of the ESPNU150 Watch List (an unofficial list of the top 300 HS rising seniors in the country) on campus in Durham. Most recently, the Blue Devils had 9 top targets in the class of 2013 on campus for the North Carolina basketball game, including Watch List members WR Marquez North, LB Peter Kalambayi, OL Mike McGlinchey, and OL Tyrone Crowder. The coaching staff has been in contact early and often with a number of other Watch List members, including several on the West Coast, and hope to host several more visitors later this spring and summer. As you know, we’ll continue to bring you the best coverage of Duke Football and Duke Football Recruiting around.

Duke WR Conner Vernon scores his 1st of 2 TDs against Tulane last year -BDN Photo

Spring practice highly competitive

The Blue Devils returned to the field this past week to start the second half of their spring practice, and the competition level has been at its highest in the Cutcliffe era. We checked in with WR Conner Vernon earlier this week, and he confirmed that across the board, Duke is a deeper and more competitive team. The Blue Devils return 17 starters this fall, but each of those players will be pushed by younger players on the depth chart. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

The Duke defense loses two of its leaders to graduation in S Matt Daniels and NG Charlie Hatcher, but there is real competition to fill their starting job. At safety, Walt Canty, Jordon Byas, and August Campbell will be projected to start heading into the fall, but they are being pushed everyday in practice by newcomer Jeremy Cash, former WR Brandon Braxton, and youngsters such as Chris Tavarez and Britton Grier. Also, it can’t be ruled out that Issac Blakeney won’t see some time on defense, as he has established himself as one of the team’s best pass-rushers last spring from the safety position. To fill Hatcher’s void up front, the Blue Devils have Jamal Bruce, along with two 300-pound players in Will Bryant (recently returned from injury) and Steven Ingram. To put it in March Madness terms, I wouldn’t “go Sharpie” on anyone’s starting job quite yet.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Blue Devils have struggled in the red zone in recent years. The coaching staff has utilized an option style attack with Brandon Connette or Anthony Boone under center. Fans and media alike have questioned the success of this approach, as it seemed to lack creativity and often stalled drives. This year, however, it appears that won’t be the case. Coach Cutcliffe has used the “best 22 players” mantra as a focus for this offseason, and the quarterback position has been one of the most impacted. With three players with significant game experience under center in Sean Renfree, Connette, and Boone, Duke is looking at ways to put all of their weapons on the field, especially in red zone situations. Based on early returns from this spring, both Boone and Connette will not only be used under center, but also at tailback and tight end. As two of the better athletes on the roster, these alignments, if nothing else, should have fans excited for the fall.

Kenny Anunike granted 6th year of eligibility

This is big-time news. Duke defensive end Kenny Anunike has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.  Based on the ruling, he is eligible to participate in the 2012 and 2013 football seasons.

A 6-5, 250-pound native Galena, Ohio, Anunike appeared in four games last fall before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Tulane. Prior to the injury, he was leading the ACC in quarterback sacks (4.0) and was credited with 13 total tackles including five for loss on the year.  Anunike has not participated in spring drills while recovering from knee surgery performed last fall.

Anunike also missed the 2008 season while recovering from knee surgery.  He played in all 12 games in 2009 as a reserve tight end before shifting to the defensive line, where he registered 23 tackles in 12 games during the 2010 campaign.

Kelby Brown undergoes 2nd ACL repair

Duke rising junior Kelby Brown underwent his 2nd ACL repair on February 22, putting his health for the 2012 season into question. The revision surgery was performed on Wednesday by Dr. Claude T. Moorman III, Duke’s head team physician and the director of Duke Sports Medicine.  Brown originally injured the knee on November 20, 2010 against Georgia Tech, and underwent surgery weeks later.  He re-injured the knee earlier in February 2012.

A 6-2, 220-pound native of Matthews, N.C., Brown has played in 19 games with 17 starting assignments over the past two years.  Last year, he led Duke in tackles for loss (7.0) while posting 65 total stops and received the program’s Mike Curtis Award as Duke’s most outstanding linebacker.

Brown’s career totals include 128 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, four fumble recoveries, one caused fumble, three pass breakups and seven quarterback pressures.  In addition, he is a two-time selection to the Academic All-ACC squad.

Should Kelby not be available to play this fall, he does have a redshirt year available, and would therefore still have two years of eligibility remaining. It should also be noted that WR Conner Vernon pointed to Kelby’s younger (but bigger) brother, Kyler, as one of the young Blue Devils who has been most impressive this spring.

Preferred walk-on program thriving

Ok, so I don’t leave you in Negative Town, let’s talk about another bright spot for the Duke Football program. Since Coach Cutcliffe’s arrival, he has built the walk-on program at Duke into an asset for Duke Football. First, allow me to give you some perspective.

A 5’10” 165 pound, slow-footed freshman from upstate New York enrolled at Duke a few (I mean several – ok, fine, it was over a decade) years ago, and within his welcome packet to the university, he received a letter inviting him to walk on to the football team. While I did not elect to subject my body to the punishment of collegiate football, I imagine several other equally qualified freshmen received similar letters back then, and some probably did. Flash forward to 2012, and Duke Football secures a commitment from one of the top 10 long snappers in the nation…as a preferred walk-on.

Slightly different use of the walk-on program, eh? Last week’s commitment from Thomas Hennessy was just the latest among several preferred walk-ons for the program. When Coach Cutcliffe arrived in Durham, he had one quarterback to get through spring practice. This year, he has seven, including two preferred walk-ons. That’s seven QBs to practice snaps under center, seven QBs to practice handoffs to RBs, seven QBs to practice routes with WRs, and seven QBs for defenders to pass rush. Across the board, the walk-ons that Coach Cutcliffe have brought in have improved the program by allowing for more reps and more productive practices. While many of these preferred walk-ons may not make a significant individual contribution to the box score, they make their teammates better everyday in practice.

Sweet, I knew I could make it through an article without mentioning Peyton Manning (he’s been working out at Duke, in case you’ve been living under a rock). So, I haven’t forgotten about Football Friday, but my schedule simply doesn’t allow me to commit the time needed to it. But I’ll make a deal with you, since we’re all feeling down today. This won’t be the last football update you read this spring. We’ll keep it coming, as time allows. And also, we’ll have lots of prospect interviews and several updates from current players and coaches as we head towards the spring game – March 31, Wallace Wade Stadium, 1:00 PM ET. Be there. I’ll be looking for you.

WE ARE DUKE.

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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Best of luck to Abraham Kromah and the rest of Duke's NFL hopefuls this week. -Lance King Images

Football Friday: the book light that comes with your Snuggie

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.

Best of luck to Abraham Kromah and the rest of Duke's NFL hopefuls this week. -Lance King Images

 

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?).

Recruiting updates

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:

With Anthony Boone's play this spring, it may not be essential to take a QB in 2012.

 

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.

DT Korren Kirven sounded impressed with Duke, UVA, and VT

 

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.

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Duke is evaluating dual-threat QB Matt Johnson

Dual-threat QB Matt Johnson is looking for a school close to home

Duke is evaluating dual-threat QB Matt Johnson

Head Coach David Cutcliffe is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks, thanks to his work with Thad Lewis and Sean Renfree at Duke, and Peyton and Eli Manning at Tennessee and Ole Miss. In the class of 2012, Duke has already been in contact with many of the top quarterback prospects around the country, including a sleeper in-state dual-threat prospect. Matt Johnson is a 6’3” 210 pound quarterback from Maiden, North Carolina. He’s been in contact with several in-state ACC schools and made a trip to Durham earlier this year for Duke’s Junior Day. Highlights of Matt’s junior season can be viewed here.

 

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

Yeah, my coach coordinates offense, we run a shotgun offense, but I am – we run a 50% passage percent, but I have found strength in being a good runner, and I play behind my pads, I’ve been told, but I really try to just get every yard when I’m running, and I have focused on passing to strengthen myself in passing, but running’s definitely been my biggest strength, and slowing the game down a little bit and playing at my own pace has been my big thing that I’ve been pretty good at this year.  I don’t really kind of pride myself in anything, but just my reads and everything like that going in.  But I’m more of a dual threat quarterback.

BDN: What are some of your goals for your senior year?

This year, I want to help my team.  I want to pass for over 1500 yards.  I was just 1000 this year, with run a lot more than that, but I want to be considered as a college level passer, and not just a dual threat quarterback.  I also want to strive to win a state championship, that’s what I want for my team, but the passing and reading the coverages better, and making – slowing the game down even more, just to have control over the situation is really what I want, and complete passes, basically.

BDN: Is there a college or NFL quarterback you have studied closely or have tried to emulate?

I’ve always admired Peyton Manning, just for his – his poise in the pocket, and then the way he calls the game, and seems to have everything in his hands.  He’s working with everybody, and they’re reacting to it.  It’s what I love about it, and it’s kind of where I want to be.  But I want to play with the maturity level that is far passed my own, just to have control of the situation mainly.  But – I loved Brett Favre until just recently, but –

BDN: As you approach your college decision, what are the most important things you are looking for in a school?

A big thing about it, and I’ve put it on all my seats, is the location of where it is.  I kind of want to stay pretty close to home.  I don’t really want to leave my parents that much, and I think I probably have an opportunity to do that, but also I want to find a place that has a communications major.  I kind of want to be a broadcaster when I grow up, but a lot of it is academics for me.  I want to go somewhere where I can maybe be out in 4 years, but have a good degree, and I want to go somewhere where I can play and that I can grow as a football player, and as a leader.

Maiden QB Matt Johnson is hearing a lot from NC ACC programs

 

 

 

BDN: Who are the schools that you have been hearing from the most and which schools were the first to contact you?

It all kind of started with, I think it was Wake Forest, NC State, ECU, and Duke in there, and that was really cool, getting those letters from Coach Roper at Duke, and going to the game, I was very excited about getting that stuff and receiving letters of just, “Come to our game, come watch.”  It was all surreal to me, but I never really felt like I was lost in the crowd.  I felt like it was a privilege being in the place I was at; I count it as a blessing, being able to go.  But I went to NC State a couple times, ECU a couple of times, and I think it’s been ECU and Duke that has talked to me the most in just recruiting-wise, and keeping up contact with me.  But it’s been a great thing for me, I’m humbled by the entire thing, but I really want to just find a place I’m comfortable at, and I really felt comfortable at all 3 of those places.  But a lot of other colleges were talking to me just through letters, just sending me stuff.  But communication-wise, I talked to the other colleges.

BDN: Do you have plans for any additional visits this spring or summer?

I definitely want to – I went to Duke’s Junior Day the other day.  I had a great time there, I’m actually looking forward to another visit there.  Thinking about going to ECU’s Junior Day, and that’ll be a big thing, and any other Junior Day I’m invited to, I’ll be happy to accept that invitation no matter where it is, but I definitely liked NC State, ECU, and Duke as a place I’ve been to.  I wanted to visit Wake Forest, I don’t know all about that, I don’t know what my opportunities are gonna be, but I’m not sure if there’s anywhere else I want to go.  I want to go anywhere, really.

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

I try to be the same person I am on the field as I am off the field.  I’ve never been the most skilled player, I wouldn’t say, but I’d say I’d be able to pull a team through anything, just with – it doesn’t matter if we’re down 40 or up 40, I’m gonna play my heart out.  I don’t know the whole give up or let off thing, I just know how to play football and how to score touchdowns, and how to go 100% every play.  I’m not – I just want to keep everybody’s spirits up on the field; I’m a good motivator, and I’m not gonna pride myself in being a leader, but I think somebody has to do it, and it’s gotta be somebody willing to step up, and I try to do that most of the time, and I think I do a pretty good job of it.

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

All right man, thank you. God bless you.  Bye.

 

QB Casey Cochran was the 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year in CT

Coach Cutcliffe and Duke are evaluating CT QB Casey Cochran

QB Casey Cochran was the 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year in CT

Head Coach David Cutcliffe is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks, thanks to his work with Thad Lewis and Sean Renfree at Duke, and Peyton and Eli Manning at Tennessee and Ole Miss. In the class of 2012, Duke has already been in contact with many of the top quarterback prospects around the country, including Casey Cochran of Connecticut. Cochran is a 6’1” 205 pound pro-style quarterback from Masuk High School in Monroe, CT. As a junior, Cochran led the top offense in the state to a championship, earning himself the state Gatorade Player of the Year award. Highlights of his junior season, during which he threw 2,670 yards and 36 touchdowns, can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths as a quarterback?

Some of my strengths are, I think, are accuracy in all throws, moving in the pocket, arm strength, and reading coverages.

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

I’ve been working on depth and quickness of my drops, footwork.  Every day I’ve been working on footwork.  Throwing on the run was a big thing to work on; I didn’t do it much this year, but work on that a lot.

BDN: Are there any quarterbacks in the NFL or college game that you have studied or modeled your game after?

Definitely, I’ve been watching a lot of Aaron Rodgers this year, he has like impeccable form.  It’s perfect.  Same thing with Tom Brady.  He holds the ball a little low, but I love watching him.  They’re 2 great quarterbacks I love watching, as well as Peyton Manning, just how he runs offense is awesome.

BDN: What are your goals for your senior season?

Definitely want to win the championship again, go undefeated, we did that this year, and I definitely want to repeat, go out with a bang.  I want to be the number one offense in the state, and just do better than last year.

BDN: What are the most important factors you’re considering when looking at colleges?

First of all, academics.  Academics are the strongest thing I’m looking for.  Also facilities and academic support, as well as the type of offense run there.

BDN: Is there a specific academic field you think you would like to study in college?

Yes, sports medicine, I’d like to get into physical therapy or personal training.

BDN: Do you have a preference for a particular offensive style?

Yeah, I’m looking for pro-style, with a mix-up of spread too.

BDN: What schools have you had the most contact with so far and who were the first schools to contact you?

Cochran has an early offer from Boston College

The first – I have an offer from BC, and they were the strongest at first.  I have – I went to the UConn and Rutgers Junior Day, and I am scheduled to go to Virginia, Duke, and NC State Junior Days, as well as Penn State this spring.

BDN: Have any schools stood out to you at this point in the process, either on your visits or through your contact with coaches?

Not necessarily yet, no, it’s still pretty early.

BDN: Do you know what camps you plan on attending this summer?

Not yet, but I’m definitely going to UConn and Rutgers.  We haven’t planned every camp out yet, but definitely UConn and Rutgers and BC.

BDN: At this point in the process, do you have an idea when you would like to make your college decision?

No, I’m taking my time now, but I am scheduled to graduate January of my senior year, so I’m trying to take my time, but before then I would definitely make my decision.