What was your mindset heading into the visit?
We were just kinda rushed a little bit actually because we were running a little bit late getting to O’Hare. It was a quick flight down there, but I was definitely excited to get down there and was just really wondering what everything was going to be like because I had heard some great things. I was excited going down there.
Who had you heard good things about Duke from?
Jake Marwede mostly, he’s a Duke commit and I’ve gotten in close contact with him since he’s one of the top people in this state. Then one of my friends that goes to Northwestern right now, Flynn Nagel, he had originally committed to Duke I think last year, but he was saying that he had a great time out there and that I need to get out there and see the program.
How long have you and Jake Marwede known each other?
Just a little bit, we got in touch with each other after the season. We had played against each other in the state championship and we had seen each other in a few different places since then. He’s definitely talked with me about all the good things that he saw in Duke when he decided on them and the family feel there, and he was really excited that I was going to be able to get my chance to go out and experience it. He was just raving about the community there and the Duke experience.
Did you two get to touch base after the Duke visit?
Oh yeah I talked to him earlier today. It went well, I definitely told him that it was a lot of what he said it was going to be and I was comparing similarities to what he saw and we just continued to dialogue about what’s coming forward.
Based on your expectations going into the visit from your talks with Jake, Coach Bridge and others, how do you feel the visit measured up?
Definitely from what I heard from those two, I knew it was going to be a great time and things like that, and they put so much light on it and talked about it with such a high standard, it definitely met and somewhat exceeded expectations when I was able to see it all. I’ve always heard it was a beautiful campus, so it was really great to get a chance to see it on such a beautiful day like it was yesterday.
Did anything you either saw or heard exceed your expectations?
Definitely the strength of the family feel there. When I was talking with Coach Cutcliffe, he was telling me about what they do there that helps them have trust amongst each other. Even in the locker room, they don’t have locks on the player lockers, so you could see how much they trust each other and how much of a family feel they have there. Seeing and hearing that from Coach Cut really solidified that message and how they are as a whole program.
So you get on the ground in Durham, what came next?
Well, we drove to campus, then the first thing was we sat down with Coach Knowles and Coach Bridge and we got to have lunch and we got to talk with Coach Knowles about the entire defensive philosophy there and it was great to get a chance to get to know Coach Knowles better as a coach and a person. Then after that we did a tour around the entire campus including going into the Duke Chapel, going into Cameron, getting to sit down with the Academic Dean and had a great conversation there that included the ins and outs of how they support their student-athletes. Then from there we went to sit down with Coach Cutcliffe and talked with him for a good amount of time. We got to pick his brain and really get to know him and then after that we kinda headed out. It was good and we tried to make sure we could do as much as we could in the limited amount of time that we had before we had to head back. All in all, it was really great to see all the different components that I was able to see.
Where would you say the relationship is now between you and Coach Knowles and Coach Cutcliffe after this visit as opposed to where it was prior to the visit?
Definitely better, it’s always going to be better when you get a chance to sit down and really talk with them. I have a much better sense about how they operate, how the young players should be. Then it was great to communicate with them about their whole message, it really helped me get a better idea about them than I had going into the visit.
In your talks with the Duke coaches was there anything you heard that was surprising and what was really helpful for you to hear from them?
Nothing too surprising. Coach Knowles used to coach at Cornell and one my friends has a family member who goes there, and he has a pretty good relationship with the coaches at my high school. I knew about Coach Cut being at Ole Miss and Tennessee and coaching the Manning brothers, so nothing too surprising was shared. Coach Cut talking with me about how they had turned the whole program around definitely got me excited and he talked about and you could see how they were continuing to build on that success to make the program even better. He told me about the different people they are bringing in and how they are moving forward with how they recruiting different people and continuing to build on things which also got me really excited and more amped up about Duke.
How much did they discuss with you about where they see you fitting in with their current recruiting class if you went there and did they discuss in general at all where the rest of that class is headed?
Well I know they have a lot of guys already in the class and they had a guy from Maryland who committed today, a defensive lineman. We talked overall about how great a class they have coming in including Jake Marwede from my home state and how I would be a great addition to the class if I came in.
Did they give any indication to you that they were willing to wait for however long you needed to decide, or did they take more of an upfront approach that space may be filling up potentially in that class?
They definitely don’t want to rush me, they felt good from their perspective in knowing where the process has been and is going in terms of communication with me. That’s how I like for the process to go because for the schools that kinda tried to put more pressure on me, I kinda wrote them off because it’s a very important decision to me. It was great to hear from them that I could take all the time I need to really think about things and being able to hear that from Coach Knowles and Coach Bridge was really great. It was good knowing that they were good with me taking the time that I need to make this very important decision.
So based on everything you experienced at Duke, did you feel a change for you with how you feel about them as a program, or did it more confirm how you already felt about them?
Definitely it confirmed it because I was coming in with high expectations and through them being able to show me everything about them and the people I was able to meet, it definitely confirmed how I felt about Duke.
How hard a decision do you think this will be for you?
Yeah, it’s going to be hard and it’s going to come down to where I, there’s going to different aspects wherever I go that will be really different from the other schools. I definitely think it’s going to be tough the next couple of weeks as I finalize my decision, but I definitely think I’m in a good place to do that. It’s final discussion time with my mom and coach, I just need to make sure that my heart is in the right place and I want to make sure that I know that I have given this decision some sincere thought. I’ll probably be making my decision by the end of July, I don’t think I need more time for that.