One on one with Zavier Carmichael

He was the first player to commit to Duke from the class of 2014, making his decision in June of 2012. Since that time Zavier Carmichael has developed a strong relationship with his future coaches and focused on improving his all around game. He spoke about that and much more with TDD this week.

Though he's listed as a linebacker in the database, Zavier Carmichael is a jack of all trades for his high school team, and he'll fill a different role when he arrives in Durham.

"Right now I mainly play outside linebacker for my high school team, but I have also spent time at middle linebacker and fullback," said Carmichael. "When I get to Duke, they are looking for me to play the rover position. It's like a safety/linebacker hybrid."

Carmichael currently measures out at six-feet and 210 pounds, and has a personal best 40 time of 4.66. He has a one-rep bench press max of 350 pounds, a squat max of 505 pounds, and a power clean best of 300 pounds. Those numbers have gone up over the course of the last year as he's reported putting in extra work to help his high school team as a senior captain. It's just one of the things he's learned as he's matured.

"I've learned a lot over the course of my high school career, but I think the most important lesson is that it takes a team, and not just one person to win a game. You have to trust your teammates to do their job, just like they trust you to do yours. Over the last few years I've had older guys give me pointers and tidbits on how to be a better player - how to read receivers, and things like that. As a sophomore I wasn't very good, but I've worked hard to improve greatly."

Since committing to Duke over a year ago, Carmichael has gone through periods where he thought about 'looking around', but those days are long past. He's been firmly committed for a while, and talks to his future coaches quite often.

"I talk with the staff by Twitter or Facebook almost every week. I've talked to Coach Cutcliffe, Coach Collins, and Coach Knowles recently via phone. One of the things Coach Cutcliffe has talked with me about is how he looks to find guys who are leaders on and off the field. He's told me he loves my on field abilities as well. He pointed out my physicality, open-field tackling, and speed. Aside from what he wants from guys on the field, Coach said he was a player with a good personality. Someone he's not having to run behind to check up on things like grades."

Despite his future coach providing a positive scouting review, Carmichael says he's got things he needs to work on in order to earn the trust of his new teammates.

"I would like to improve my speed this year. I want to be able to make plays all over the field. Also, I want to work on my abilities in coverage. I feel like I'm good at it, but I want to be great…hopefully I'll be closer to that by the end of the season."

Improving his speed is one thing, but some analysts likely underestimate Carmichael as a linebacker because he lacks prototypical size. Still, he believes he has what it takes to surprise and out-perform his ranking at the collegiate level.

"My biggest strength is my physical approach to the game. I might not be the biggest person on the field, but I will be the guy who plays the hardest. Some things you just can't teach a player, like when it's game time. If you don't have the kind instinct already, then when things go badly you will always be an extra step behind. When we're out there I love to blitz. Coaches use me to cause havoc for the opponents, especially when we've got them in a third and long situation."

With his recruiting long out of the way, Carmichael says he's spent time reflecting on the process, and his decision to end it all so early on. Now, firmly at peace with, and excited about his future, he's says looking back over it all is fun.

"My best memory in general is talking to all the different coaches. It's great when a coach tells you they want you to play for them. The variety of colleges I talked to surprised me. All schools had their advantages.  I chose Duke over others because to me, Duke was a family. Duke has an upcoming football program and I want to be a part of it.  I have a high chance of starting early in my career, which is great. Duke also has a great education program which is important to me. I have many plans in life and going to Duke will only put me that much closer to achieving them."

Which means, there's only one step left…to schedule an official visit to Durham. And plans are already in place for doing just that.

"The coaches have talked to me and all the other guys who are committed about doing big visits together. Right now the plan is for me to go up there in December for my official, and I'm looking forward to it. It'll be my only official visit."

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