Practice News & Notes: Monday

The first two practices of the 2007 football season are in the books with the Blue Devils yet to strap on more than helmets and tape. On Wednesday, however, the intensity will begin to crank up and Duke football will take one more step towards the season opener against UConn.

Without much more than a few walk throughs and positional drills being done on Monday and Tuesday it's hard to get a feel of just what's happening with the team to this point. However, one noticable absence is Mike Tauiliili, who has been suspended indefinitely from the program amidst charges of assault by pointing a gun, carrying a concealed weapon, driving while impaired, failing to stop after an accident and simple assault.

Head coach Ted Roof must now replace the team's leading tackler of the last two seasons, as well as one of the most vocal players on the roster. And while Roof was quick to reiterate his desire to investigate the matters, sources confirm that it's unlikely the junior will play another down at Duke - at least for this season.

"We're going to let the facts play out, investigate and make sure we understand the truth to this matter before anybody rushes to do anything, but there are two sides to every story," said Roof. "At the same time, I'm disappointed he put himself in that position off the field. This team is a lot bigger than one person."

While Alfred Williams' name continues to be bantered about as a possible replacement, two other names worth noting are Paul Thornton and Vincent Rey. The most likely heir to the position is Rey, who appeared in 12 games last season, and stood out throughout Spring practice. The 6', 240 pounder was one of the more highly rated LB recruits in Roof's tenure at Duke. Thornton, meanwhile, is tipping the scales in the mid-230lbs range and was another highly rated recruit from one of the most competitive regions in Texas.

Asack Is Back:

While the linebacking corps was missing a highly productive player, the quarterback position gained a familiar face with the return of Zack Asack. Nearly a permanent spectator throughout the summer at during visits to Duke for Spring Practice, Asack returns to a familiar situation - battling for playing time while beginning the season as a back-up.

Just like the 2005 season when he began the season behind appointed starter Mike Schneider, Asack will be looking to push his way to the top of the depth chart. 2007 appears to be a bit different as the named starter, sophomore Thaddeus Lewis is a more gifted opponent. Of course Asack himself is noticably bigger and stronger than he was two falls ago. It all points towards a fierce battle each time the team steps on the field.

"We're definitely going to push each other," said Lewis. "I don't look see it as a race, we're just out here competing. In football, you have to compete."

VO's Ready To Go:

The biggest recruiting victory of Roof's tenure remains Texas five star defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase. After a knee injury required a redshirt season in 2005, and subsequent preventative and clean up procedures limited his stamina a season ago - "VO" is finally ready to make an impact in the middle of the defensive line for the Blue Devils.

Throughout the various summer camps held at Duke, Oghobasse was a fixture on the practice field when not attending summer school. The reason for staying in Durham was to continue working himself into shape. He lost 20 pounds and is now a svelt 297, and likely to lighten up even more as the summer heat wave arrives just in time for practice to kick off.

"I was up around 320lbs, and that was too much," Oghobaase reported. "Now I'm lighter and quicker - and not wearing a knee brace".

Daily Grind To Date For Duke:

So, you think you can be a Duke Football player? There's more to it than just showing up and throwing on some equipment. The team reported to campus over the weekend before reporting to the preseason housing assignments at a local Durham Hotel.

Monday was the first day of practice with a wake up call coming at 5:15 AM. Vans departed the hotel by 5:30 to transport the team to the Yoh Center to allow players a chance to dress out and get taped before hitting the practice field at 6:30. After practice the team returned to the Yoh Center for breakfast. At noon the team reconvened for a two hour lunch session before orientation began around 2 PM. Dinner at 6, followed by positional meetings and then a return trip to the hotel. Lights out by 11 PM before rising before the sun on Tuesday for the second day of mini-camp.

Pads Coming Soon:

The Blue Devils will be in shoulder pads and helmets beginning Wednesday morning at 6:30

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