Depth Chart Notables

The depth chart for the 2009 season opener against Richmond has been released with several notable players moving up and down the list.

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  • Redshirt Freshman Conor Irwin has won the back-up job at left tackle behind Kyle Hill. Irwin, who came in at 250 pounds a season ago, is now listed at 265lbs. Though he's a bit light for a tackle, the Tennessee native has great footwork and is quick off the snap. He's certainly got the family lines to become a solid lineman for Cutcliffe, being the son of former Tennessee standout Tim Irwin, who played in the NFL from 1981-94 for the Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Miami.
  • Fellow redshirt freshman Brian Moore has won the right guard position over third year player Jon Needham. Again this appears to be a case of greater speed winning out over size.
  • On special teams, starting running back Re'quan Boyette and backup Patrick Kurunwune will handle the kick-off return duties. This follows through with Cutcliffe's decree of preferring that position being called on for those roles. Many believed this is a role that would favor highly prized newcomer Desmond Scott. However, it would appear the coaching staff will keep Scott on the sideline this season in a redshirt - preferring not to burn it just to have him return kicks.
  • Speaking of the running backs, Duke will have one of the best two-headed attacks at tailback in recent memory with Boyette and second year back Jay Hollingsworth splitting carries out of the back. Both players have starters experience with Hollingsworth taking over last season when Boyette was lost for the year with a knee injury in preseason.
  • Freshmen receivers Conner Vernon and Tyree Watkins have polished off a strong preseason camp and earned high placement on the depth chart. Vernon is listed as a spot-starter with Austin Kelly, while Watkins is the back-up to Johnny Williams.
  • Third year sophomore Charlie Hatcher has won the starting nose guard position, but has been pushed hard by true freshman John Drew. Drew got a high number of reps with the first team offensive line throughout the preseason.
  • There's a hotly contested battle on the left defensive end position where fourth year juniors Patrick Egboh and Wesley Oglesby are listed as co-starters.
  • The freshman class is highly relevant in the linebacking discussion where three of the eight listed positions on the depth chart are occupied by newcomers. Most notable is Tyree Glover who has earned the backup role to Damian Thornton at the WLB position. Classmate August Campbell will pull similar duty at the SLB position. As Cutcliffe told the media after one practice: "they new players look and act like linebackers should" in reference to the average freshman backers' measurables (an average of 6'2, 230 pounds for the three who have made the depth chart).
  • Third string quarterback Sean Schroeder will redshirt unless either Thaddeus Lewis or redshirt freshman Sean Renfree are injured in which case the California native gets promoted and the shirt is removed.
  • The youth movement is also very much in effect at the safety position where three of the four players listed (Matt Daniels, Walt Canty, and Jordon Byas) have a combined half season of experience.

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