Big Lineman Likes Duke's Approach

In order for the Blue Devils new offensive system to work, head coach David Cutcliffe knows Duke will need to get more consistent play from the offensive line. So Cutcliffe has gone to work on the recruiting trail, targeting several big time players along the OL. One of which has several schools chasing him.

"Right now I've got offers from Duke, Tulane, UAB, and Memphis," says Auburn (Ala.) High standout offensive tackle John Sullen. "I've also gotten a lot of interest from the coaches at Alabama and Auburn, and my coach has heard from Louisville, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, and LSU. All of them have said they like me and just want to see more film and see how I do heading into my senior season."

Standing 6-foot-4 and tipping the scales at 315lbs, Sullen certainly fits the profile of a massive offensive tackle prospect. And, oddly enough, that was one of his game's short comings early on in the recruiting process.

"I was up around 345 pounds last year, and that was too much weight. I could get away with it at the high school level, but in college I need to be stronger, not just bigger. I've spent the spring and summer losing the bad weight and improving my overall game - I am working to improve my foot speed and my overall quickness - especially my hand speed."

That effort to become a better player has caught the attention of Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils, who were one of the first programs to offer Sullen a scholarship. Since the offer, Duke has been among the most active players in this race.

"With Duke you can tell they want me to come in. They are really stressing the idea that the program is changing. They've struggled in the past, but now the school has gotten serious about putting a football program together. The coaches they have there now all have experience from the highest levels, and I think they are moving Duke in the right direction."

But, as with most programs with which they are directly competing, Duke has some obstacles to overcome in terms of recent history and tradition - which seems to be a practiced approach according to Sullen.

"The coaches are up front about the program's recent history, but they are also up front about the fact that they want to change Duke from just a basketball school. They also bring a different approach in that they show you just how valuable a degree from Duke will be in the real world once football ends."

As the summer begins to wind down Sullen says he's going to look to start scheduling official visits to different programs and the begin to sit down with his coaches and family and begin to look hard at a decision.

"It'll be sometime after my season - maybe December or January. I'm really looking for the right balance of family, fit, and competition. Tradition isn't overly important to me, but I do want to go to a program that's going to be able to compete. I want to compete in practice and I want our team to compete every time we're playing. It would be hard to play somewhere that has no real chance of doing that."

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