DAVID CUTCLIFFE: As Mike mentioned,
February 28th we had our spring game. We
started immediately after national Signing Day in
recruiting. So we were pleased. Obviously, the
big questions were replacing a big defensive front.
Four of our starters are gone. Lose two
outstanding longtime starters
on the offensive line.
And then replacing Anthony Boone and
Jamison Crowder and David Helton, very
productive players for us. David leading the ACC
in tackles the last two years. Anthony, the
winningest quarterback in Duke football history.
And Jamison Crowder, who has caught more
passes than anyone other than Conner Vernon in
ACC football history.
So that’s our focus. We like our team. We
like their work ethic. We just have to go see what
we can do on the field at this point. Our guys are
working hard in the off-season, which is a great
thing to see.
I’ll take your questions.
Q. I know that it’s kind of off the
football field, but the Penn relays this weekend,
you have a few guys, and I know you like your
fast guys to get faster, so DeVon Edwards,
Ryan Smith, just what you can say how
important it is to have some of these guys do
track and field before they go to football?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: It started early in my
career at the University of Tennessee when Stan
Huntsman was our track coach. We had a lot of
people — Willie Gault, Sam Graddy probably being
the most well-known that were extremely
successful in both sports, and they go hand in
hand, and I like our speed.
We have more guys that
can run, but also they love it, and one of the things I do is I make
sure they’re doing every other thing right before we
let them do it, and DeVon and Ryan continue to
earn that opportunity. And DeVon Edwards is
probably our fastest player on our squad, and I say
probably because it would be a good race.
But I’m happy for them, and I think it’s
great for Duke track and field. Those guys — last
year we had a full group run 400 meters, and they
almost set the school record the first time out. So
I’m happy for them. It should be fun.
Q. And then as far as the spring, just
what you were able to take away, maybe some
of the leaders that you saw step up for you
coming out of spring, some of those guys that
really have meant something to you as far as
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I think on the
defensive side, it was very evident, starting with
Jeremy Cash, the entire secondary. DeVon
Edwards, who we already talked about, Deondre
Singleton, Bryon Fields, Breon Borders. We
returned our entire secondary, and those guys
have great energy and tempo.
We’ll just flip quickly over to the offensive
side, Matt Skura, our fine center. Lucas Patrick,
the returning guard, that are both seniors that just
really do a tremendous job. Shaquille Powell is as
good a leader as I’ve been around, our starting
tailback. And Max McCaffery out at wide receiver.
So I thought our habits, our work habits all
spring were outstanding, really based — and Carlos
Wray, I should mention in our defensive front.
Those guys really did set a tempo along with the
returning of Kelby Brown and Braxton Deaver, who
are back, thank goodness, for sixth years. So you
really like this team’s temperament and work
Q. I wanted to ask you about the
defensive front. Since you’ve had a couple of
months now since spring practice ended, what
have you seen from your film review of spring
ball and the way that group got their work
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I was really
pleased with our starters, really good spring. A.J.
Wolf solidified himself starting alongside Carlos
Wray, and he has just become more and more
powerful and has done a nice job of improving
himself. And he’s played a lot of football, but he’s
ready and showed that.
Kyler Brown had a great spring. He’s
comfortable at defensive end. Britton Grier is
coming into his own. Both of those guys played a
lot of football, but they
played like seniors.
And then I was pleased what we have with
our young people inside, Mike Ramsey, Quaven
Ferguson, Edgar Cerenord, Keilin Rayner. And
then on the outside, we moved Allen Jackson
outside, and I thought he had a really good spring.
Deion Williams finished strong. Marquies Price,
who is a midyear guy, got a ways to go, but he
could be as talented as anybody we’ve ever had.
So just a lot of positives about our
defensive front, and the more we study it, the more
we like what we’re seeing. And then I think,
obviously, we do believe we have some guys
coming in here this summer to join us that could
impact us. So I think that’s another great part of
what we’re looking at from a depth standpoint.
Q. One followup. You mentioned Kelby
and Braxton. I know they didn’t work out in
spring ball, but how are they coming along with
their injuries? Do you expect any drawbacks
for them come the start of practice?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: No. They’ll be full
speed. They’re close to that now. There’s no
benefit in rushing them out there. Their rehab is
going outstanding. Both of them feel good. Their
presence, their leadership presence was felt all
They did a great job of being out on the
field, basically coaching, encouraging, challenging.
It’s like having, instead of
9 assistant coaches this
spring, it was like having 11, seriously. So I
thought they impacted our spring practice in a big
Q. Just curious the last couple years
with your guys’ recent success, how much
easier, how much more receptive, have you
seemed to notice a difference on the road in
recruiting and going out on the road? How
much difference is it for you guys?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I can go back to
pinpoint all the way back to playing Texas A&M in
a great slot, national television slot on New Year’s
Eve, where so many people saw us. I think that
was a turning point in recruiting because people
view you differently, and they do view us
differently, thank goodness. So it’s helped without
We’ve always had great name recognition.
I think people know that and believe that we do
things the right way, but kids want to win. When
you win, it certainly impacts everything about your
program. Also, the other part of it is, when you
win, you have a lot of continuity within your staff,
and I’m very pleased with our coaching staff. I
think we have as fine a coaching staff as there is in
Q. Obviously, Thomas Sirk got a head
start because he’s got game experience, but
have you seen anybody step forward in the
quarterback race this spring? Where does that
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Right now Thomas
Sirk is our number one. Parker Boehme is our
number two, and Parker had a great spring. I’ve
just gained more and more confidence in both of
them. I trust both of them in every aspect of who
they are, which is fun as the coach. They’re
talented. They throw it well.
They will be the pair, and then you throw
Nico Pierre is number three. As a threesome,
they’re the best running quarterbacks we’ve ever
had, but these guys can throw it. I thought
Thomas Sirk had a great spring throwing the
football. He’s a big guy, 6’5″, 220. He’s got touch.
He’s got great arm strength, and then he can
create as well as Parker.
So it’s just going to be an interesting
continuing battle, but it’s obviously one of the
things we like to do is play multiple quarterbacks.
You just mentioned it. I believe these guys are
going to allow us to do that.
Q. Just out of curiosity, how much
bump, or do you get one at all for what the
basketball team did last month?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: It’s awesome. Love
it. People think Duke, they think winning. It’s just
an all around positive impact for our university, and
Duke basketball has been for a long time.
We won the championship back in 2010
and we felt it. You’re in the public eye, and we
have already felt it again. So we are thrilled for
them, proud of them, but we certainly benefit from
Q. Good afternoon. Obviously, you
lost a very talented receiver, as you said, you
lost a couple of receivers and a couple of
offensive linemen. How do those positions
look to you coming out of the spring?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: We had veterans,
Cody Robinson and Tanner Stone, competing for
that right guard spot. Our left tackle spot, we have
a sophomore, Gabe Brandner, that ended up
I thought he had a great spring. I feel
good. I feel better about our depth. We have
some good young talent, and some of them have
now played some. So really not backed up in
many places where people haven’t played in the
offensive line, which I think is important.
I thought our receivers had an exceptional
spring. I thought Jeff Faris, our receiver coach, set
a great tempo. You lose Jamison. You lose Isaac
Blakeney, who were two of our starters. We got
Max McCaffery and Johnell, who we considered
starters, Johnell Barnes. And our young people
really got better. Ryan Smith really got better.
We got a receiving corps, and I think that our depth
is better, and we will be able to play more people.
Again, I thought from practice habits and overall
drill performance, which is a lot of what spring
practice is, our receivers led the way for our team.
So I was pleased with their work.