FB Practice Notebook Aug 10

The Duke football season kicked off Monday with the first day of full practice taking place. Late Monday night TDD got the scoop from our correspondents in attendance. Read on for the practice notebook.

*- For the first time in years the Blue Devils have an excess amount of players competing for time. In total there were 103 total players in attendance Monday, and while the NCAA allows 85 scholarships, it's the first time in over five years that the Devils have had this kind of depth – this means injuries aren't as major if they should happen. The increased depth has also helped practice stay at a furious pace.

*- Some of those 18 walk-ons are going to be in a position to contribute according to the insider word circulating camp. One who has garnered a lot of interest is Heath Grey, who could compete to actually see the field without a scholarship.

*- Perhaps the biggest note with this year's group is that the lowest levels of talent are significantly more impressive than in previous years. That's been a big problem in years past, however there are ‘no dogs' this year. It seems as though anyone on the field can help the team.

*- The new freshman class is a big reason that talent level is taking a big step up from previous seasons. On Monday Duke saw freshmen look good at defensive back, skill positions, and returns. While the prevailing sentiment is that none of them will start early on, they will certainly push the incumbents to improve.

*- At least two upperclassmen were heard saying "Whoa" when watching freshman Ronnie Drummer making cuts on the field turf. The freshman tailback is expected to contribute on returns and perhaps in spot duty on offense this year.

*- Speaking of freshmen running backs, Justin Boyle was very impressive and will be on the depth chart for the first game of the year barring unforeseen changes. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, he's a strong runner who is deceptively fast.

*- One scout in attendance commented to TDD that "We haven't had this kind of competition here in a long time."

*- Sticking with various opinions on the freshmen:

Chancellor Young is a big guy (6'2, 215) who showed good speed in taking a Mike Schneider pass 70 plus yards for a score. Jomar Wright is the most polished freshman receiver in camp. He will probably see the field first of all the freshman "catchers". Corey Thompson also proved to be extremely fast for his 6-foot-2 frame and, like Wright, will likely see the field earlier than others. However Young is considered to have the greatest upside once he polishes his game.

Again there was a lot of concern surrounding the team's ability at the receiver slot heading into camp, but those concerns are not as grave as they once were after Monday. There aren't any saviors here, but there are certainly players who can contribute and will be big timers as the team progresses.

*- Patrick Bailey had looked great in the spring game at tight end, and while a few on the coaching staff would love for him to build on that momentum, he's heading to defensive end. All freshman selection Ben Patrick continues to look very good at the TE slot.

*- Other freshmen to impress were Zack Smith, a 215 LB and Alfred Williams a 245 LB, both of whom are expected to see action as part of the depth chart early on.

Note: Premium subscribers can head to the premium forum for an update on Blue Devil recruiting as well as some insider tidbits on other practice issues.

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