One on One With Pontus Bondeson

While many recruiting experts certainly believed that the Blue Devils scored a huge coup in the class of 2006 with the commitment of Marcus Lind, few knew that Lind was just the first piece of the puzzle. The second piece, in the form of Pontus Bondeson, is every bit as good, and that is saying something. TDD spoke at length with Bondeson on Monday. Read on the for the interview. What was the deciding factor that lead you to choose Duke?

Pontus Bondeson: The main thing is that Duke was the only University that knew that I existed and thus contacted me. I have had plans applying to College, but I did not know where to start. During my Official visit at Duke the coaches and my host made me feel really comfortable, and they showed a great interest in recruiting me even though that I am a football player who has never played "professional" and organized High School football. And they where also perfectly honest with me, telling me that other big schools (like Miami for example) do send a lot of guys to the NFL, but that it is not the school you go to that matters, but it is the quality of yourself as a player that matters if you go pro or not.

Duke´s great academics is also very appealing to me, since I know that some day in my life I might quit playing football/coaching or whatever, and that is when a degree from Duke gets really useful.

What have the coaches told you in regards to you contributing to the program next year and beyond?

Coach Brown, Coach Kelly and Coach Roof believes that my work-ethic, raw talent for D-line and size will contribute to the program. As long as I work hard and stay focused and learn what the coaches are trying to teach me, they believe that I will develop into something good.

Has it been decided if you will redshirt next season?

If I redshirt, or not, is something that is to be decided after summer camp. I do believe that I have got the size to play, but the big thing is if I am mentally ready to play.

Coming from Sweden and directly into College football is a really big step; I have to learn the system that Duke has; I have to learn my assignments; I have to be able to read the offense properly, all those things matter, and will determine if I redshirt or not. I am going to play against some of the finest football players in college football, and if I am not mentally ready, then I believe that Coach Roof is going to redshirt me to make sure that I will be ready the year after.

How did your relationship with Marcus Lind play into your decision?

Marcus and I know each other from playing together on the Swedish Junior National team in the year of 2004, and during the European Junior Championship in Moscow, Marcus and I became friends. So when he got recruited by Duke he made sure that they would know that back home in Sweden there was a guy who was bigger, stronger, faster and better than him.

I am very thankful that he told Duke the things he did, and I can now truly name him among one of my best friends. But after that he had told them about me and that they had contacted me, Marcus had done his part, and it would now be time for me to do my part -- to convince the coaches that I was the guy they were looking for and that I deserved a scholarship.

How long have you played football? What successes have you achieved to this point?

I have played Football since January 2002, and in 2003 I became a member of the Swedish Junior National team. In the Nordic Championships in 2003 I shared the starting spot as a DT with current Stanford Nose tackle Gustav Rydstedt. The year after I was a starter in the European Junior Championship in Moscow, and ended up at fourth place of total tackles in the Swedish team.

In 2004 I attended a NFL Europe Youth Camp in Glasgow Scotland, and got awarded as the best Defensive linemen. In 2004 I played my last junior season and I got awarded with "Best Offensive Linemen" and "Player of the Year".

In 2005 I became a member of the Swedish Senior National team and was the youngest player in the team when we competed in "The World Games" I have also been contacted by current NFL Europe Senior Manager Player of Development, Dennis Danielson, regarding attending National tryouts for NFLE.

What is your max in the bench press?

15 reps at 225 lbs

What will be the biggest challenge for you next season?

The biggest challenge for me will be the competition that I will be up against. I will compete for a starting spot against players who are older and more experienced than I am. I have only played football for four years; the guys that I compete against have played football for their whole lives. Football is a lot tougher in America than it is in Sweden, and our opponents are tough, so therefore the adjustment will be a factor.

And I must not forget that Duke is known for its great academics, and you have to work really hard to be successful in both football and school. It will be a brand new experience to handle the pressure from both football and academics.

If asked for the complete story of how you came to Duke football, what would it be?

The story is quite easy to tell, and it is quite short. As you know, Marcus told good things about me to Duke, and they got interested. After they had seen my highlight tape that is when they got really interested. They liked my size and were impressed that I could run so well. I had already taken my SAT and TOEFL last year, and I was approved by the Clearinghouse and had a good GPA, and good merits from both my coaches in Sweden and the coaches at the NFLE Youth camps that I have attended.

Coach Kelly interviewed me over the phone a couple of times and they became more certain that they should bring me over for an Official Visit. So last weekend we met and I made a good impression on the coaches. You already know the rest.

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