1. Jeremy Cash, JUNIOR, SAFETY
Last Week: 1
Through five weeks of the season there’s little doubt that Cash is Duke’s best football player and that he’s on a different level than his teammates. Most recently the junior safety was on display in the Blue Devils’ loss to Miami, recording a game-high 10 tackles along with 1.0 tackle for loss, two caused fumbles, two quarterback pressures and one pass breakup. For the season, Cash ranks second on the team with 45 total tackles while pacing the squad in tackles for loss (5.0).
2. Shaun Wilson, FRESHMAN, RUNNING BACK
Last Week: 5
Is this too high for the dynamite newcomer? Perhaps. After all, Wilson is just the third string running back on the depth chart. However, he’s also been the team’s most dynamic offensive threat no matter the competition. After running through, around, and over the weaker opponents on the schedule, Wilson showed off his receiving ability against the Hurricanes, leading the team in total yards in the loss. His touches per game are slowly inching up as well. While he may not be ready to be the featured back in the Duke stable’s rotation, Wilson has proven himself to be the most impactful back on the roster through the first month plus of the year.
3. David Helton, SENIOR, LINEBACKER
Last Week: 3
After easing into the new position, the senior has come alive in both production and fit. Helton leads the team in total tackles (51) and tackles per game (10.2/per). He, like Cash, can always be found at the line of scrimmage and points of impact assisting a Duke defense that has been performing well above what many expected this year.
4. Devon Edwards, SOPHOMORE, SAFETY
Last Week: 9
Not only is Edwards a force in the return game, he’s also been among Duke’s best defenders this season. Currently ranking third on the team in tackles (44) and second in unassisted stops (24), Edwards has established himself as a ball hawk in Duke’s 4-2-5 scheme. Not only is he hitting opponents in the open field, he’s proved to be a game saver when it comes to defending the passing game. He leads the team in pass breakups, and passes defended. He’s also tied with Cash for the team lead in forced fumbles. Not bad for a formerly unknown, two star recruit who didn’t play his senior year of high school ball due to injury.
5. Jamison Crowder, SENIOR, RECEIVER
Crowder has been plagued by a number of factors this season - some reported and obvious (erratic quarterback play and becoming the primary focus of the opposing defense), and some which haven’t been noted (a minor injury sustained in warmups before Miami). It’s all combined to render the preseason All-everything wideout less effective than his junior season, and yet he’s still been pretty good. Crowder trails on Wilson in total yards, and he leads the team in catches (29, 5.9/game), yards per game (68.6), and yards per catch (11.8). The bye week came at a very good time for Crowder who needs to get back to full health.
6. Will Monday, JUNIOR, PUNTER
Lask Week: 8
Duke may have the best punted in the country in Monday who has made a habit of pinning opponents down with less than ideal field position. The junior has been called up 24 times this season and has responded with a 44.8 yards per kick average which includes five touchbacks. He’s booted seven kicks for more than 50 yards, and has a long of 65. Monday has also forced opponents into six fair catches.
Cutcliffe was extremely complementary of his punter this week saying that Monday could end up on the top of the list of all-time punters he’s coached.
7. Anthony Boone, SENIOR, QUARTERBACK
Last Week: 4
Something was wrong with Boone last Saturday in Miami. The senior quarterback seemed rattled and to lose confidence as the game progressed. It culminated in the worst start of his career, and subsequently the first regular season loss Boone has suffered at Duke. We’ve had Boone among the top three to four throughout the season, and the drop to seven may not be steep enough, but for Duke to be successful, Boone must find the level he displayed throughout the end of last season - especially against Texas A&M in Atlanta.
“The biggest thing is just stay on the path he's been on,” said Cutcliffe of his struggling signal caller. “He's really played well for the most part. In five games you really couldn't ask much more. You can't get in the habit. We've had interceptions in each of the last two ball games. We've had two against Miami, and we had one prior to that against Tulane. So we don't want to get back in that habit.”
8. Laken Tomlinson, SENIOR, OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
Last Week: 6
It’s more of a case of others moving up than Tomlinson falling with slotting the big lineman at eighth. Steady production and some highlight blocking sequences are becoming the norm for the player who will likely be the highest drafted Blue Devil in April. In case you missed the Miami game, watch the offense line on first Duke touchdown. Tomlinson exploded off the line of scrimmage and drove back a pair of Hurricane defenders to open a gaping hole for Shaquille Powell. You’ll see that play during his post season and NFL Draft evaluations a lot.
9. Ross Martin, JUNIOR, KICKER
When drives have stalled and Duke needed points, their kicker has been perfect on the season. He’s scored 44 points, setting the program’s all-time record for points in a career this season. And the points seem poised to continue for a player who is 7-of-7 on field goals and 23-of-23 on extra points.
10. Deondre Singleton, SOPHOMORE, SAFETY
Last Week: NR
Much like Cash and Edwards above, Singleton has been extremely productive all over the field for the Blue Devils . He ranks third at the safety position in tackles (34), but that’s good enough for fourth overall. In addition he’s recored a pair of pass breakups and has defended two more passes. Duke is bending but not breaking a lot of the time, but with the serious upgrade in athleticism and speed in the defensive backfield, the Blue Devils are getting more and more stops earlier in drives. Singleton has been a big part of that.