Ready or not it's time for Zavier Carmichael

Sophomore linebacker Zavier Carmichael is being asked to do quite a lot for a second year player. In addition to learning a new position, he’s also being asked to step up for a former all-ACC performer who has been lost to injury. We sat down with the defense's new quarterback to discuss the changes and challenges ahead.

During the off-season Zavier Carmichael was promoted to starting linebacker after appearing in all 13 games a season ago and recording 20 tackles and two interceptions. That transition wasn’t expected to take place for another year with the 6-foot, 220 pound Alabama native scheduled to serve as an understudy to redshirt senior Kelby Brown. But, Brown’s career was ended by yet another off-season ACL tear, and Carmichael is now thrust into the limelight. Ready or not.

Despite the steep learning curve and truncated timetable, Carmichael says he will still lean and rely heavily on Brown.

“Kelby will be like a student coach,” said the former three star prospect. “He has already picked up the role. He has sent out film to us. He’s more of a teacher now, but he’s also still the emotional leader we need.”

In addition to the support from Brown, both Carmichael and new starting WILL Linebacker - and converted safety - Dwayne Norman have undergone an intensive on-the-job training program courtesy of the Duke coaching staff.

“We have had a lot of meetings. This summer we came in to meet the coaches and started the process by going one on one with them. Now it’s up to us, me and Dwayne. This is our first year as starting linebackers.”

For his part, Brown has facilitated some additional meetings that Carmichael says will prove useful as he and Norman prepare for the team’s season opener against Tulane.

“We’ve had tons and tons of meetings, but it’s not just the coaches. We have met with the older players on the defensive line like Carlos Wray, A.J. Wolf, and Kyler Brown. They have been telling us, “Hey we know this is your first time playing linebacker, and it’s a big role to step into, but we’re behind you and you know we have got your back.” That kind of faith from your teammates really helps us out.”

Young Defensive Linemen Stepping Up

Inexperience isn’t only on display at the starting linebacker positions, but also along the defensive line where the Blue Devils’ much improved recruiting efforts have begun to creep into the two-deep as camp begins to open.

“There are a bunch [of young players] who have stood out to me,” said Carmichael. “Marquise Price who came in January of last year is one. He’s really stood out, and he’s really given his all. He’s going to be a great asset for the team in the coming years.”

Price, a former three star prospect, is listed at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds after being a three-year letterman at Peach County High School. But he’s not the only freshman who has drawn rave reviews early on. Duke will also get some help on the interior of the defensive line from redshirt freshmen Edgar Cerenord and Quaven Ferguson.

“Edgar is a lot quicker than you would think for a big guy. Most people haven’t seen him play since he was redshirted, but he and Quaven Ferguson have worked hard. I can see them both making a big impact in the coming years.

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