Tag Archives: Chris Tavarez

BDN Free Football Friday Encore

DL Carlos Wray is the 6th verbal commitment in the class of 2012

Is it Friday already? Time flies when you’re knee deep in recruiting season. As we did last week, we’ll share Football Friday with everyone this week. If you like reading what we have to say, please consider joining BDN Premium. We’ve quickly become the best resource for all things Duke athletics around, and we’d love to have you join our community.


College football preview season

We mentioned last week that college football previews are in full swing as magazines hit newsstands and websites begin publishing their own predictions. While Duke is flying under the radar for most prognosticators in 2011, several Blue Devil players have garnered pre-season accolades. Will Snyderwine and Conner Vernon were named as preseason 1st Team All-ACC, while Matt Daniels, Cooper Helfet, Kyle Hill, Sean Renfree, and Donovan Varner were tabbed on the 3rd Team by Athlon Sports. I would caution those who are sleeping on Renfree and Varner in 2011; both have taken huge steps forward this offseason and are poised to lead the Blue Devils to a bowl this fall.

Chris Tavarez featured

Duke’s freshman safety has already made a name for himself in the acting world, and will star in a new NBC movie, “Field of Vision.” The Blue Devils are looking forward to Tavarez’s arrival on campus later this month.

Busy week

It’s been rapid fire at BDN this week, kicking off with the Blue Devils’ 6th verbal commitment in the class of 2012. Carlos Wray joins Allen Jackson as future Duke defensive linemen under new Coach Rick Petri. Wray and Jackson are both athletic prospects who will be fun to watch in Wallace Wade Stadium in the years to come.

With camp season in full swing, BDN checked in with several new Blue Devil prospects to learn more about where they are in their recruiting process, and learned that Duke has made a significant impression on many of them. Some of the new interviews we featured this week included:

LB Jeremiah Allison

OL Steven Foster

OL Bryce Kennedy

OL Casey Blaser

Duke would love for Keilin Rayner to join Deion Williams at LB in the class of 2012

We’ve also recently checked back in with two of Duke’s top targets on the defensive side of the ball:

LB Keilin Rayner

DT Korren Kirven

If you’ve followed Duke football recruiting in recent years, you know we are just getting started here in early June. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!


Recruiting rewind

Most Duke fans are conditioned to expect recruiting success due to Coach K’s historic run in Durham. In football recruiting, you win some and you lose some. At BDN, we believe it’s more important to focus on the recruiting victories and keep things in perspective. Here’s a quick recap of some of Duke’s biggest recruiting coups in the last two classes alone.

Class of 2010

LB Kelby Brown

Duke fans didn’t know how good of a player they were getting when Brown committed to the Blue Devils in July 2009. The coaching staff was able to secure Kelby’s commitment over nine other scholarship offers from programs like Arkansas, Boston College, Louisville, Northwestern, UCLA, and Wisconsin. After knee surgery cut his freshman year short in 2010, Duke fans are expecting Brown to lead the Blue Devil defense in 2011 and beyond.

QB Brandon Connette

With Sean Renfree entrenched as the heir to Thad Lewis, it was easy to overlook the commitment from Connette, which the Blue Devils received early in the recruiting season, in May 2009. The Duke staff was able to beat out in-state power Stanford for Connette, who came in and led the Blue Devils with 8 rushing touchdowns as a freshman, a new school record.

RB Juwan Thompson

The Duke coaching staff went down to Georgia in the spring of 2009 and stole a pretty good running back prospect from the Peach State. Thompson committed to Duke in June 2009 over offers from Minnesota, Ole Miss, Stanford, UVA, and Wake Forest. After finishing in the ACC’s top 10 in kickoff returns as a freshman, the Blue Devils expect Thompson to see an increased workload in 2011.

RB Josh Snead

After landing 4-star prospect Desmond Scott in 2009, the Duke staff continued their impressive in-state recruiting, adding the speedy Snead to the class of 2010 in December 2009. Snead chose the Blue Devils over Georgia Tech, Louisville, NC State, and Vanderbilt. Along with Scott and Thompson, Snead is expected to be a key playmaker in the 2011 Blue Devil backfield.


Kyler and Kelby Brown are two of the Blue Devils' biggest recent recruiting successes

Class of 2011

OL Cody Robinson

The Duke coaching staff landed four impressive prospects from the state of Tennessee in the class of 2011, led by the 300-pound Robinson. Cody chose the Blue Devils over 8 other scholarship offers and is expected to anchor the Duke offensive line for years to come.

OL Marcus Aprahamian

Coach Luke and the Blue Devils went into the Midwest and secured a commitment from the top offensive line prospect in the state of Wisconsin in May 2010. Aprahamian, who called Duke his “dream school,” is expected to join fellow 300-pounder Robinson and anchor the Blue Devil offensive line.

LB David Helton

Another good-looking Tennessee prospect, Helton chose Duke over 7 other scholarship offers, including ACC rival Georgia Tech. Helton is a player many think could contribute as a true freshman in 2011.

CB Jared Boyd, CB Tim Burton, S Chris Tavarez

Duke fans are going to love watching this trio of defensive backs develop in Wallace Wade Stadium. The three bring a distinct swagger to Durham, and they all know how to make plays. Boyd, who hails from Georgia powerhouse Stephenson High School, chose Duke over 14 other scholarship offers, including programs like Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Stanford, and Vanderbilt. Burton brings the reputation of a big-time speedster and trash-talker from the talent-rich state of Florida, where he chose Duke over 7 other offers, including Big Ten power Wisconsin. Tavarez may be best known for his career as an actor so far, but he plans to make a name for himself on the gridiron at Duke, which he chose over 6 other offers, which included Maryland and Vanderbilt.

DE/LB Kyler Brown, ATH Jamison Crowder

Do you remember where you were on February 9, 2011? What about March 13, 2011? Of course, you were watching the Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels on the hardwood. What a great feeling for a Duke fan! So why don’t you remember July 20, 2010? Or February 1, 2011? Duke beat the Tar Heels on those days as well, landing commitments from Jamison Crowder and Kyler Brown. With Crowder’s athleticism and Brown’s family lineage, Blue Devil fans should know to expect both to find a way to make an impact this fall.

You could certainly add more to this list – TE David Reeves, who signed with Duke after a late push by SEC power Auburn; WR Blair Holliday, who chose Duke over hometown UCLA; big DL Sam Marshall, who chose Duke over ACC rivals NC State and Virginia; Will Monday, the top ranked punter in the class; and several others. For a program whose last bowl game was over 15 years ago, the Blue Devil coaching staff is doing an impressive job on the recruiting trail. If recruiting success is any indicator, Duke fans should expect to see results on the field sooner rather than later.


Keep up with all things Duke athletics here at BDN. As always, thanks for reading. Until next week, WE ARE DUKE.


2011 Commit Chris Tavarez Updates BDN on his Official Visit and Senior Year

Happy New Year, Blue Devil Nation! 2011 will be an important year for Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devil football program, as they look to continue their rebuilding effort and bring Duke to its first bowl game since 1994. While Duke will return a number of talented players on both sides of the ball, the 2011 recruiting class also features an impressive group of athletes that will bolster the depth at several positions. It is no secret that the Duke defensive secondary struggled in 2010, and the class of 2011 will add 3 players who expect to fight for playing time in the backfield as true freshmen. Among these is Chris Tavarez, a 5’11” safety out of Atlanta, Georgia. Chris was in Durham on an official visit in December and caught up with Blue Devil Nation afterwards.

BDN: Can you briefly recap your official visit to Duke?

I went down there with all of the other committed players and a few of them that weren’t committed and I had a lot of fun. My host was Matt Daniels, who is the starting strong safety, which I’m trying to play at Duke, and also the leading tackler. That was cool to see, you know, from a leader’s standpoint; I got to ask him questions and see how he likes Duke and his experiences, and even the bad parts about Duke, what he doesn’t like or what he wishes he could change, what he wants to improve on. That was cool, he was a great host. We ate a whole bunch, we ate a lot, probably four times a day, which is great because I’m always hungry and I’m always stressing to my parents that I’ve got to eat. It was fun and I learned a lot. I got to meet with a business major and talk to him, because I’m planning on either being a business major or a sociology major, so I got to talk to the business major and that was great to get his insight and his points. I think the most important part for me was that I got to talk to the safeties coach, Coach Knowles, and we broke down film and we got on board and he explained to me that I would best at playing the rover position at safety, and broke down every position in the defense. He told me what my best assets were and what Duke needed me for basically. I loved it, it was a great time, I got to talk to Coach Cutcliffe, the head coach, and yeah, everything was good.

BDN: There were some other commits in the secondary on campus that weekend. Can you talk about your relationship with them?

I was with Tim Burton and Jared Boyd. That was my first time meeting Tim, but I had met Jared, because Jared plays for Stephenson, a school – actually a powerhouse – over here in Georgia. He’s one of the best d-backs in Georgia, so I’ve met him through combines and we’ve played each other, and they really gave it to us, they killed us. [Laughs] Yeah, though, I actually met Jared at a combine at Georgia Tech, so that was cool to kind of be in competition with someone and then realize that he’s going to the same school as you. So that’s good to know we’re going to be on the same team. I met Tim, who I had heard a lot about Tim going into the official. I heard that he was probably one of the fastest recruits that we’ve got, so that’s good because speed is always needed. He’s a small guy, but what I love about Tim is that he talks a big game. Usually people that talk a big game have to bring some results after it, they have to bring some skill, so I love those guys, because I’m like that. I’m really talkative on the field, always trying to hype my boys up, always trying to make the next play, so I think that’s what we really need in 2011 and that’s going to be a great asset on the football field. I’m really psyched about our secondary, I think we’re going to look strong – all three of us have the potential to start and play as freshmen.

BDN: How much were you able to follow Duke’s season and where do you think the program is headed?

Duke’s 2010 season, it wasn’t all that, obviously. I think that we could have won a lot of games, we could have won at least 5 of those games that we lost. A lot of those games were lost by a touchdown or below, so it’s not like we’re just getting pummeled by these teams. It was just the little mistakes, I mean, we’re a young team and it’s the little mistakes that we’re making that didn’t get us the victory. I think with a lot of changes and with the recruits, we can definitely be top ACC contenders. I give us, probably two years, and we’ll be top ACC contenders, because it’s only the small things we have to change. We definitely have a bright future, our recruiting is getting way stronger and by no time we’ll be up there with the basketball program.

BDN: It looks like your team had a tough season. Can you give us a brief recap of your senior year for us?

What’s ironic is that we were going through the same thing Duke was with a very inexperienced, young team. We ended up 3-7 and it was kind of hard, because I’m coming off of a season, my junior year, where we only lost 2 games during the season and made it to the playoffs, to come to 3-7. So it was a pretty difficult time for me and I was also injured, mostly half of the season with a high ankle sprain, that I had to take easy and ice everyday in practice. It really sucked, but when I came back they put me at middle linebacker because I was one of the strongest hitters and one of the guys that makes sure tackles, so they put me at middle linebacker and I tried to do the best I could there, even though I was undersized being 190 or 185. I also played special teams, kickoff, kick return and that’s about it. I think Westlake, just like Duke, is going to have a good future in the years to come because we’re a really young team.

BDN: What are your plans for the offseason? What’s next for you?

My plan right now, Patrick, is just to get faster, stronger, and bigger. That’s my whole thing. What I got a lot from the players is really stress conditioning. After I sign my letter of intent, Duke will be sending me a book on the conditioning that I need to start working on and my workout plan. The players and the coaches really, I mean in capitals, REALLY stressed the conditioning because no one wants to go there as a freshman planning on playing and can’t even run the conditioning requirements. I’m really working on that. I want to get big, but I also want to keep my stamina where it is. Those are my plans. I want to at least get to Duke at around 205 or 210 pounds, and then during summer camp and all the conditioning I’ll probably slim back down to 200, 195 so I can be solid enough to play. Those are really my things. I also want to be able to learn the playbook pretty fast, so I’m always in touch with Matt Daniels, the safety over there, asking him about the plays and coverages and stuff like that.

BDN: When can Duke fans expect to see you on campus?

I actually have to talk to my counselor about that, but most likely the first session, I’ll be there, I think it’s May 18. I’d then have to fly back down for my graduation and then I’ll go back up there. It’s looking like the first session, I don’t know for sure.

BDN: That’s great. Thanks so much, Chris. We all look forward to seeing you in Durham. Best of luck with your senior year.

Yessir, thank you Patrick.

Blue Devil fans can catch Chris in the annual Metro Atlanta All Star Game, which will be played on January 8 at Grady Stadium in Atlanta. Blue Devil Nation will continue to bring updates on Duke football’s class of 2011 right up through signing day.

Prospect Chris Tavarez looking for a home away from home

Duke prospect Chris Tavarez

Chris Tavarez is a 5'11” 193 pound strong safety prospect from Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Chris played outside linebacker as a junior, and is being recruited by several schools to play safety. His strengths on the field are his aggressiveness, hits, and instincts. Heading into his senior year, Chris is working to improve his speed, hoping to clock a 4.3 second 40 yard time (down from about 4.5), and is always working on his fluidity and fundamentals.


Chris missed most of the spring evaluation period while he was in New Zealand, filming a new Disney movie, and thus, his recruitment is a little behind schedule. He's looking for a school with “academics first, with coaches who understand the student-athlete concept.” Since his return, Chris has been getting a lot of attention from big-name academic and football programs, including Duke, Maryland, Kentucky, Harvard, Tulane, Princeton, Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Oregon. He plans on making several visits over the next few weeks to find a place where he'll feel “still at home” when not on the football field. Academically, Chris has an interest in sports journalism, but is still pretty much undecided on a collegiate major. He's looking for a football program that will take him “to the next level in football.” 

Though Chris has received lots of interest from schools over the past few months, “Duke was the first to offer and I'm a loyal person,” he said, “I went up there for junior day and they showed me so much love. All the coaches on the staff knew me. They sent me a huge envelope with a letter written by every coach on why they liked me.” During his visit, he was also able to sit down and talk to Coach Cutcliffe. Growing up in Atlanta, Chris has a lot of respect for the ACC, noting that they “play differently than the SEC” and praising the conference for promoting the student-athlete. 

Chris hopes to make his decision sometime during the fall, but admits that he has “lots of places to visit and a lot of homework to do” before making a final decision. 

For Chris' highlight video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X77y-RXl6I.