Surgan Picks At Duke

After battling through some problems on special teams for much of the past two seasons, the Duke Blue Devils have addressed a major problem as of Monday night. That's when one of the nation's top kickers phoned head coach Ted Roof to select Duke over a number of high major programs.

"I went up to Duke two weeks ago and loved it," says St. Thomas Aquinas High standout Joe Surgan. "In the end it was Duke's academic reputation that put them over the top for me."

After solidifying himself as one of the nation's premiere kickers as a junior, Surgan quickly became of the more highly recruited specialists as a high number of programs showed interest.

Teams such as Florida, Penn State, Alabama, Northwestern, and Georgia had all indicated that offers were on the way, while Auburn had already extended one. However it was the recruiting tactics of the Duke staff that won over Surgan.

"Coach Kelly and Coach Roof are really excited and they sold me on Duke pretty quickly. They told me what having a Duke degree could mean for me off the field. On the field I really believe that program will be turned around in a few years. It's exciting to be a part of that."

As a junior the 6-foot-4, 220 pounder was named 2nd team Florida All-State Place kicker, 1st Team All-Broward County Place kicker, and Miami Herald, 1st Team All-Broward County - Sun Sentinel after hitting on 24-of-25 extra points, and 7-of-10 field goals including a long of 48 yards.

If that's not impressive enough, Surgan routinely prevented any returns on kickoffs, putting 70% of his kicks through the end zone for a touchback. It's something that his special teams coach is used to.

"During spring he hit from 53, 57, 61, and 63 in the spring on four consecutive kicks in live special teams play," says STA High assistant coach Tim Conrad. "We had to have him kick off from the 30 for us to practice our return game, because every kick from the 40 and 35 was in the end zone or out of it."

That kind of production will give Surgan every opportunity to play early on when he gets to Durham in 2005.

"They told me that I would have a chance to go in and compete for playing time right away," said Surgan. "I need to continue to work on my strength and I need to get used to kicking without the block before I get to college."

Surgan becomes the ninth commitment in the class of 2004 for Duke.

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