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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.


Football Friday: TWIDF

Does Major League Baseball still produce TWIB? I used to watch This Week In Baseball every weekend when I was a kid. Well, if MLB has TWIB, then BDN has TWIDF. BDN Premium’s Football Friday is your weekly look inside the world of Duke Football. It’s been a busy week in Durham, as the Blue Devils were recognized for their work in the classroom and also added a verbal commitment to the class of 2012.

Duke placed 15 teams in the top 10 percent of the APR - GoDuke.com photo


Duke named among top 10 percent in APR

The NCAA honored the Duke football program, along with 14 other Duke teams, for placing among the top 10 percent in the multi-year Academic Progress Report. The APR is an attempt to provide a real-time evaluation of each student-athlete’s academic progress (as opposed to graduation rates, which are retrospective). While this kind of recognition has become expected among Duke teams, it’s still a great acommlishment. The Blue Devils were first in the ACC and second overall with 15 teams recognized; Notre Dame had 17 teams honored. As the Duke football program strives for excellence on the field, they also continue to excel in the classroom.

The NCAA has more questions for Butch Davis and the Tar Heels after Quinton Coples' appearance at a post-draft party

NCAA visits UNC, again

UNC defensive end Quinton Coples was spotted at a post-draft party in Washington, DC along with former teammates Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn in pictures posted on Facebook. This is either a complete non-story or a really big deal. Here’s why. If Coples paid his own way for the trip and related expenses, his attendance at the party is allowed by NCAA regulations (though ill-advised given UNC’s recent issues). If, however, Coples did not pay for any part of his trip to DC, Coples will likely be ruled ineligible for at least part of his senior season. Experts have Coples ranked among the top 5 NFL draft picks in 2012, so this could be another high-profile UNC player with eligibility issues. Given the similar infractions last year, the NCAA could have solid ground for strong sanctions against UNC. Stay tuned.

Duke receives third verbal commitment for 2012

The Blue Devils added a hard-hitting safety in Dwayne Norman


As you know by now, Dwayne Norman committed to Duke on Wednesday night. The Blue Devils were the first to offer the 6’0” 185 pound strong safety prospect from University Christian in Jacksonville, Florida. Norman joins fellow Jacksonville native TE Erich Schneider and DE Allen Jackson as the first three members of Duke’s class of 2012. Thus far, all three prospects appear to be solid verbal commitments to the Blue Devils.

As for Norman, he’s a hard-hitting safety prospect who totaled over 70 tackles and an interception as a junior, while also lining up at wide receiver. His highlights can be viewed here. Norman finishes tackles very well and does an excellent job getting into the opposing backfield. He will need to improve his coverage skills to play at the college level, but has the speed (4.5 sec 40-yard dash) and athleticism (33 inch vertical) to make the transition.

OG Cody Robinson is among the Blue Devils who arrived on campus this week

New Blue Devils on campus

Several members of the class of 2011 moved on to campus and began their first college courses this week. The first summer semester began on Wednesday, and the Blue Devils will have 8 players enrolled for this term. Several of these players worked hard to finish up their final semester in high school early so that they could arrive on campus as early as possible. The remaining members of the class of 2011 will join them for the second summer term at the beginning of July. Fall training camp will open during the first week of August, at which time all members of the team are required to report to campus.

The players enrolled on campus are:

OG Cody Robinson 6’3” 290 pounds

OG Lucas Patrick 6’3” 305 pounds

CB Tim Burton 5’9” 170 pounds

CB Jared Boyd 5’9” 170 pounds

P Will Monday 6’4” 185 pounds

TE David Reeves 6’6” 245 pounds

WR Nick Hill 6’2” 200 pounds

LB Jon Woodruff 6’3” 205 pounds (January enrollee)

Duke to host Nike camp this weekend

NFTC will host an invite-only camp at Duke this weekend


Spring football is in full swing for most high school prospects, and that includes both spring football practices as well as combines and camps. On Sunday, Nike will hold an invitation-only football camp on Duke’s campus for top prospects in the class of 2012 and 2013. Needless to say, this is great exposure for the Duke program, and a testament to the recent improvements in Duke’s football facilities. With the indoor practice facility under construction, Duke’s commitment to football should be clear to prospects. Duke will host their own football camps the 2nd and 3rd week in June, but this camp is another great opportunity to get top prospects on Duke’s campus for unofficial visits.

Here’s the list of Nike Football Training Camps this spring:

March 27         Miami

April 3              USC

April 10            TCU

April 15            Georgia

April 17            Florida State

April 30           Penn State

May 1               Rutgers

May 7              Houston

May 15            Stanford

May 21            Ohio State

May 22            Duke

June 5              Oregon

June 19            Washington

Desmond Scott leads an improved Blue Devil running game

Al Featherston does it again

If you’ve read this far, clearly Hooked on Phonics worked for you. Maybe you’re willing to read a little more. If so, we highly recommend the next installment of preview articles by Al Featherston at GoDuke. This week, Al speaks with Kurt Roper and analyzes what should be an improved running game for the 2011 Blue Devils.


That’s what’s happening in the world of Duke Football this week. Until next week, WE ARE DUKE. [/private]


Cody Robinson Interview

On Saturday, Duke had two commitments play in the annual Tennessee East-West All Star Game in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Lucas Patrick suited up for the West, while Cody Robinson took the field for the East. Fellow Duke commit Nick Hill was invited to play, but unable to attend. Blue Devil Nation was able to catch up with Cody Robinson just before he took the field to get his thoughts on his recent official visit to Duke and his senior year.

BDN: Can you recap your recent official visit to Duke for us?
The visit – it went great. I had a great time and met a lot of great people.

BDN: Can you talk about your relationship with the other offensive line commits?
I know all those guys now – Lucas [Patrick], Carson [Ginn], and Marcus [Aprahamian] and Matt [Skura], all those guys are really good guys. They’re really good players and great people.

BDN: Who was your host for your official visit?
John Coleman

BDN: Did you get to spend some time with the Duke offensive linemen and coaches?
I spent a lot of time with them. I met with the coaches and went out with the players, mostly the offensive line. It was really good.

BDN: What do you and the coaches expect your role to be at Duke?
Right now, I’ll be playing left guard most likely. As far as my role, we’ll see when I get up there. I mean just make the older guys better, learn the system, and try to contribute in any way I can.

BDN: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience at the Tennessee East-West Game this week?
It’s been a lot of fun. There are a lot of good players up here and it’s been really good. Yesterday we got to go to the hospital and spend time with the kids, which was a lot of fun, just to see them happy.

BDN: Are there any other Duke commitments or prospects at the game?
Lucas Patrick is up here. Nick Hill was supposed to be up here, but he didn’t make the trip. Cam Clear isn’t at this game, I think he’s playing basketball, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on him, encouraging him to…well, come to Duke.

BDN: How did your senior year end up at Warren County?
The team had some trouble, you know, we ended up 3-7, and it was a growing year. I had a good year, I ended up with just over 100 tackles and some sacks and tackles for loss. On offense, I averaged grading out in the 90s, so I had a good year on offense too.

BDN: What are your plans for the offseason?
Just working out and stuff. Working on getting stronger and faster. I’ll start track – shot put and discus - probably the end of February.

BDN: When can Duke fans expect to see you on campus?
Most likely May 15.

BDN: Thanks so much, Cody, and best of luck in the East-West game.
Thanks a lot.

Tennessee OL Cody Robinson commits to Duke

David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff secured another commitment from a top prospect out of the state of Tennessee on Friday, as 6’4” 305 pound Cody Robinson announced his decision to join the Duke program. Cody made his announcement at noon central time in the Warren County High School gymnasium.

Duke was the first program to offer a scholarship to Cody, and he has formed a good relationship with the coaching staff over the past several months. Cody attended a Duke camp in June and also visited Durham for the Alabama game last weekend. His father played on the offensive line at Tennessee under Coach Fulmer, a close friend to Coach Cutcliffe.

Cody is the fifth offensive line commit for the class of 2011, joining Marcus Aprahamian, Lucas Patrick, Caron Ginn, and Matt Skura.

For more on Cody, please see our recent interview and view his highlight video.

Tennessee offensive lineman Cody Robinson set to announce decision

Cody Robinson is a 6’4” 305 pound offensive guard from McMinnville, Tennessee. He recently visited Durham to take in the Duke vs. Alabama game and BDN caught up with him to get his thoughts on his visit and his senior year.

“The visit went really good. I really enjoyed talking with all of the coaches and the players a lot,” he said. The visit to Durham capped off what has been a busy few months, and Cody will announce his college decision on Friday at noon at Warren County high school.

Warren County has started their season with a 2-3 record, getting a big win last week. “We definitely have some issues with being young and starting seven freshmen,” Cody said, “but we just got a big win.” As a senior team captain, he’s been piling up the tackles so far this year, and said that the offensive line has had a pretty good year so far.

Cody holds scholarship offers from nine schools, and has received interest from many more. Duke was the first to offer and has been recruiting Robinson the longest; Kentucky was his most recent offer, which came in June. Over the summer, Cody attended camps at Kentucky, Tennessee, Duke, Arkansas, Middle Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. He also fit in trips to Memphis and Syracuse.

Cody recapped his summer visits as follows:

Kentucky: “They offered me right after camp. It’s a good school and an up-and-coming program. Lexington is a really nice city.”

Tennessee: “I’ve always loved Tennessee. There’s lots of changes going on there with the program, with a new coaching staff.”

Duke: “They’re going to get really big, really fast. They have great coaches and some really good players. They’re fixin’ to take off.”

Arkansas: “They’ve got a nice thing going there and have really nice facilities.”

Middle Tennessee: “It’s really close to home – just 35 minutes from my house, and they’re just really good people there.”

Memphis: “That’s a good staff that’s done really well in their first year, it’s definitely another up-and-coming program.”

Syracuse: “When I visited in June, it was 25 degrees cooler there than in Tennessee. It was really nice and wasn’t what I was expecting at all. When you think New York, you always think the city, but Syracuse is really nice with mountains and it’s very laid back.”

Vanderbilt: “It’s about 90 minutes from my house. They’re going through a coaching change there.”

Cody also holds scholarship offers from Western Kentucky, Tulane, and Chattanooga.

Cody’s father, Ray Robinson, was an offensive lineman at Tennessee under Head Coach Johnny Majors and Offensive Line Coach Philip Fulmer in the mid-1980s. Cody has lived up to his father’s legacy, becoming one of the top offensive line prospects in the state of Tennessee. The program he chooses on Friday will be getting a good football player and a very good young man.

Duke eyeing OL prospect Cody Robinson

Cody Robinson is a 6’4” 305 pound offensive guard from Mc Minnville, Tennessee. He describes himself as a “high motor” player who thrives in fast-paced games where he can utilize his size and strength to make blocks. He bench-presses 445 pounds and squats 565 pounds, combined with a 4.92 second 40-yard time and 4.39 second shuttle. For his senior year, he says “every player dreams of winning a state championship, that’s my goal. I also want to just be the best football player I can, improving on my speed and strength.”

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Cody hasn’t finalized his summer plans yet, but intends to attend camps at Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Duke, and Arkansas. He’s looking to find a school where he fits in with the players and coaches, and hopes to further evaluate that during camps and other visits.

Currently, Cody holds 8 scholarship offers, from Duke, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Tulane, and Chattanooga. He’s also been in contact with coaches from Tennessee, Georgia Tech, UCLA, and Arkansas. Location will not be a big factor in Cody’s decision, once he finds the school that is the perfect fit, whether it’s from the SEC, ACC, or PAC-10.

Duke and Vanderbilt have been recruiting him the longest, and he has visited both campuses. He has also recently visited Illinois, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, and Kentucky. On his visits, he’s found a couple schools that stood out because he felt he “naturally got along with the people there,” but he’s not ready to declare a leader. From the Duke staff, he’s been mostly in contact with offensive line coach Matt Luke and is looking to finalize his choice before his senior year.

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