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 leadership.
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 habits.
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 done?
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 spring.
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 way.
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 question.
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 the country.
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 situation stand?
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 it.
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 number one.
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.
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