One On One With Ronnie Drummer

When you first glance at the Duke media guide one position jumps out: "Devilback". This unique position (a creation of the Duke coaching staff) is filled by junior speedster Ronnie Drummer, who sat down with TDD for a preseason chat.

Just what is a "Devil-back"

Ronnie Drummer: It's a position the coaches created that is sort of a combination of receiver and runningback. It's a position where a player has to be able to make plays and make good things happen.

Coach Roof talked about you working to be more durable. Can you elaborate on that?

I spent the off season lifting weights and just trying to get stronger and faster. When I got here I wasn't as big as I needed to be, which means I wasn't ready to take the kinds of hits you can take as a running back in this league. So I've worked hard to get bigger.

It sounds like this new position will give you a chance to avoid some of those interior collisions.

I think so. I feel like I can do better when I get into the open field. I can make a linebacker miss easier when I've got room to move, and a hit from a cornerback or safety isn't the same thing as a 300 pound lineman. They try to grab you more than hit you.

How much more do you have to study the playbook when you line up at Devilback, which could be a receiver and a runningback?

Not as much as you'd think. I learn two halves of the position. Half receiver and half running back. So really I'm just learning one position.

What is the biggest thing you've had to work on in going from a running back to this new role?

Catching the ball. I have worked a lot on improving my ability to catch the ball -- it's something that is really important. As a receiver I can get into open space easier than I can by running inside.

Ideally, how many touches do you want per game?

That's up to the coaching staff, but I would hope to get at least between 10 and 15 per game.

You came to Duke from California. What has been the biggest adjustment?

Probably the climate change. When I came here I had never seen snow. I was down to California and Duke, but the decision was made when I came here and saw the campus and met Coach Roof. His energy and attitude was the deciding factor. Also, my dad is on the east coast, so he gets to see me play a lot more than he did in high school.

Outside of football I had to really get used to the level of excellence the school expects from you in the classroom.

You and Chris Davis have both had a lot of success on kick off returns. What is your mindset as the ball is kicked?

I'm always trying to make the big play. That's my role on this team - to try and get six every time I touch the ball. I take a lot of pride that the coaches have that confidence in my ability.

What are your impressions of the new players on the roster?

All the freshmen are really big and fast. Leon Wright is a guy that I think will be really, really good for us sooner than later.


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