Who attended the Duke visit with you?
I went with my father and then I stayed over-night with Chris Taylor, one of the Duke players. I stayed the night with some of the Duke players including the d-lineman Edgar (Cenerod), another guy who wears #10 for them, it was cool.
Before diving into the visit recap, how would you describe yourself on and off the field?
I’m a very outgoing person, football and school is basically my life these days and during the summer it’s a bunch of workouts and then during the school year it’s academics. I have a 3.5 GPA and my dad is very big on academics, so for me it’s basically, school, football, workouts, that’s all.
From an academic perspective, what are you looking to major in?
When I go to college, I want to study broadcasting, that’s what I want to major in. I’ve always liked broadcasters and newscasters, I’ve always been interested in doing that since I was little.
Who would you say are your favorite broadcasters?
I like Mike Tirico a lot and the late Stuart Scott, he was my favorite. Mike just moved from ESPN, I really liked him as a broadcaster on Monday Night Football, I liked the combo with him and Gruden. When I’m by myself I try to test out my skills a little bit, it’s getting better haha.
When you have visited schools so far, do any of them have a really interesting broadcast journalism program to you?
I know which schools have the best broadcasting academic programs and there are also schools that have great broadcasting internship opportunities. So schools like Syracuse are great at broadcasting programs or Northwestern is too, and then a school like Duke and schools like Maryland have great internship opportunities because of the networking they do with broadcasting journalism.
What have you learned in terms of Duke’s internship opportunities in that field?
They don’t have a broadcasting major, but they do have certificates that I could study and then I could learn from some professors there who have experience in the broadcasting field, and Duke also has great networking opportunities through like ESPN and the basketball program since they are on campus so much, I could also network that way. That’s something I learned a little bit more about yesterday during my visit when I met with Duke’s academic advisor.
Let’s talk about that visit a little more, what else were you able to learn while you were there?
I talked with the academic advisor about broadcasting and I got to sit down with Coach Cutcliffe and the offensive coordinator and the receivers coach, Coach Faris. They were talking with me about how I would be utilized in the offense, then after that I had a good campus tour and then I got to meet up with Chris Taylor and we hung out for the rest of the night. It was a very long day.
Was that your first time visiting Duke?
That was my second time on campus, my first time I had visited for the Duke/North Carolina basketball game. The coaches gave us the opportunity to come visit for that game when they came and visited us at the school, I definitely wasn’t going to pass that up with it being a once in a lifetime experience.
What was your experience like with Cameron Indoor?
It’s very crowded is the first thing you notice, but everybody is very loud and it’s a great environment. I loved it a lot.
When you visited for that game, did you also do any kind of a visit with the football program as well?
I got to watch the spring practice and talk with all the coaches then, and then we got to go to the basketball game, so I got to see how the coaches coach in that game.
What were your observations from watching the coaches coach in that setting?
It’s very organized with the coaches, that’s what I got from it, that was my first time watching them. This visit I just did was about getting all my questions answered and they did a good job answering them. Like I was interested to learn how they would use me in the offense and the different ways they might be able to get me the ball. So they answered it, it was a good visit. I was really hoping to learn more about the offense this visit, how they utilized the receivers in it, and I also asked them how I could get better as a receiver and they gave me some good tips. Coach Cutcliffe is great with quarterbacks, so I know he’s a very quarterback friendly guy, and if you are a quarterback friendly guy, the receivers are always happy. They run a 3 wide receiver system and if they have a good receiver, they are going to get him the ball.
If you were to go there, have the Duke coaches identified to you what kind of receiver role they would expect you to play?
They said at the beginning I would start out as an outside receiver, but they said I also have the potential to play all 3 wide receiver positions, both in the slot and both outside positions.
How do you feel about that potential role?
It’s great, as a receiver I just really want the ball in my hands so it doesn’t matter how that happens in my mind.
Did they compare you to any former or current players from the program?
They compared me specifically, but they said they would use me in some similar ways to how they used Jamison Crowder. I love how they moved him around and got him the ball in different ways.
It sounds like you have been following them for awhile if you are aware of how they utilized Jamison Crowder in their offense, is that a good read?
Yes. They offered me when I was a sophomore, so I got to research them for a good year now, actually it’s over a year now worth of research into the school, that’s helped me a lot.
Do you think that research process you just referenced is what led to the questions you asked on this weekend’s visit?
It’s just more like a reflection type questions, just things that stuck out in my mind that I felt like I needed to ask them so they could explain things a little bit more than what I understood before asking.
Do you think you had any either strong questions or concerns going into the visit that you were hoping to have addressed?
I did have concerns about the offense but they showed me film of Jamison Crowder and all the different ways that they used him and they answered my concerns and questions pretty well.
Did you notice a big change in how you felt about Duke coming out of this recent visit from how you felt about them going into the visit?
They definitely caught my interest a lot more with how they run their offense. They are definitely rising in their stock and they were already one of my top schools, but they are definitely in the top tier now.
So was it the experience and the things you heard on the visit that elevated them to the top tier of your recruitment, or did the experience of the visit and the things you heard more kinda confirm how you already felt about them?
They were already in the top group, but it helped them even more, it confirmed them and the way they answered my concerns really helped them a lot.
What were your thoughts on hanging out with the players and what did they say to you about being a part of the program?
They were all real funny, chill guys. I was hanging with the receivers a lot and I liked the group of guys because they were just like me. It was cool, I liked them a lot.
From a relationship perspective—where would you say you are with Duke’s head coach, receivers coach and your recruiting coordinator?
My recruiting coordinator is actually the defensive line coach, I’ve been talking with him ever since he first got hired from Boston College to Duke, so I’ve been talking to him for awhile. Then I spent the whole day with Coach Faris on the visit and then this was actually my first time really spending time with Coach Cut, so it was good to get to know a little bit more about him. I would definitely consider myself to have a really good relationship with all 3 of them.
What were for you were really memorable from your conversation with Coach Cutcliffe?
It wasn’t actually all about football which was cool. He was bringing up academics, life lessons and stuff like that, how he runs his program. It wasn’t really football oriented when I sat down with him. I was expecting him actually to just want to talk about football with me, but he laid down a lot of life lessons that were really great, I learned a lot from him. It was me and Coach Cut in that meeting, then after that I went to a meeting with Coach Roper, then I went to a meeting after that with Coach Faris. Coach Albert, he was like chaperoning me around in a way, like getting me from meeting to meeting.
That’s kinda interesting that your recruiting coordinator actually coaches a different position from what you play, what’s your thoughts on that?
He was, he knows the area well from when he was recruiting me back at Boston College. He just told me that he wanted to keep recruiting me when he left Boston College for Duke, so we were already close before.
So outside of this recent Duke visit—are you regularly communicating with both Coach Albert and Coach Faris?
I’m primarily talking more with Coach Albert, but my relationship with Coach Faris is getting my stronger and we’re talking more and more. Originally they were actually recruiting me as a defensive back, they were recruiting me as both a wide receiver and cornerback, but now I would say they are more strongly recruiting me as a wide receiver.
So are you hoping to play just wide receiver in college, or do you like the idea of potentially playing at DB as well?
It’s really a tossup. Whatever gets me on the field faster is what I want to do. If I play defense I would want to play cornerback.
Has Duke given you any indication on what position you would more likely play if you were to go there between cornerback or wide receiver?
The first visit was more focused on cornerback, the second visit I would say was more geared towards wide receiver. It’s basically a tossup right now. I’m comfortable doing either position. I want to get on the field as quick as possible.
Have any of the programs in your top 5 in your mind presented what appears to be a clear opportunity to earn early playing time more than the other schools have?
All of the schools in basically my top 5 have given me the potential opportunity to play early, that’s why they are the top 5. I have schools in mind that are that top 5 potentially. The top schools basically for me are Duke, Penn State, Maryland, West Virginia and Syracuse, that’s the top tier right now.
Are there different reasons for each of those top 5 schools as to why they are in that top tier, or are there similar reasons for you with any of them?
It’s similar. Some of them are more its because of the relationship with the position coaches while some of them are more towards the general environment of the school and the feeling I get when I’m there. Like with the relationship with the position coach are schools like Maryland and Penn State and Syracuse while the general environment is Duke and West Virginia. I have a good relationship with the position coaches at all of those schools, it’s just different for some of them since I talked with them much earlier on in my high school career, I’ve known them longer.
Have you and your family started considering what will be the major deciding factors be when you make the decision on where you want to go for college?
It’s a lot of factors that go into mine. Some of them include the playing early, some of them it’s the general environment and whether they have what I want to major in with broadcast journalism and basically how their athletic program is with football.
At this point, what would you say are the most important factors that you are paying the closest attention to in figuring out who you like the most?
The most important would be definitely how they could help me with getting into broadcasting and how they run their athletic program. Like I look at the athletic program to see if they really like football and is it their main or one of their main priorities and then also does their athletic program really want football to be competitive.
Have you observed that attitude from any of the athletic programs in the top 5?
That’s why all 5 of them are there in my top 5, they are all basically the same with that.
From a visit perspective—are there any schools you still need to see before your decision?
I might want to visit Virginia Tech still. They are the last school to offer me but I don’t know much about them yet. I may want to take a visit there just to see what the school is like.
Within your recruiting process—do you feel like you are nearing the end or do you still have a long way to go?
I’m nearing the end of it, I’m just trying to get everything into perspective so I can make my decision soon. I’m thinking August will probably be the best, I don’t know which week, just before my high school season starts the last week in August.
Do you feel like anybody is the lead or is really behind at this point?
Those 5 schools are in the lead, it’s just basically sitting down with my father and looking at the pros and cons of those 5 schools and making my decision.
Does your dad feel like’s seen or heard anything at any of the top 5 schools that leads him to like what he saw at that school more than the others?
My dad his thing is the decision is mine to make, he’s really big into academics, so Duke is the best academic school in my top 5, so he really likes that a lot.
What are his thoughts towards the football situation at Duke?
He leaves the football stuff to me because I’m going to be the person playing in the games, he just wants it to be my decision.
Are there for you any of the top 5 that you think you just really like more how they run things in their football program?
It’s hard to say, maybe I like the newer system at Penn State and I like how they do their offense at Duke, but really I like all of the offenses because they are all receiver-friendly. There’s no one that really is in the lead.
Are any of the other schools outside of Duke in the top 5 that are indicating you have the potential to play defense or offense?
Is it a perceived advantage for you with Duke and Maryland that they present two different options for you to potentially get on the field earlier by playing either cornerback or receiver, or is that really irrelevant for you?
It’s a pro, it is a pro.