|Duke freshman DE Hud Mellencamp signs autographs for fans. (Laura Keeley - firstname.lastname@example.org)|
Sunday marked the first day of camp without any on-the-field work for Duke. The term "off day" might not be completely appropriate though, as the team was planning on going to church and lunch together as well as getting in some classroom work. Below, though, is a recap from Saturday's Meet the Blue Devils day, which was attended by 1,500 fans--the biggest crowd in at least 25 years (no Duke officials cold vouch for further back than that).
DURHAM -- "Upgraded Swag" is the term DE Kenny Anunike used to describe Duke's new helmets at the annual Meet the Blue Devils day this weekend. But, really, that term could be applied to the way the Blue Devils feel about the program in its entirety.
"I think we've really turned the corner," Anunike said. "This is it, this is it for us. Coach Cut has done everything he could... All the pieces are falling into the puzzle. All we have to do is go out there and play."
Playing--and earning wins--is easier said than done, especially with a schedule that features four top-25 teams (Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Stanford) and two others that received votes (North Carolina and Georgia Tech).
But even though Duke hasn't been to a bowl game or turned in a winning record since 1994, excitement around the program is building. More than 1,500 fans came to meet the team, the largest crowd in at least 25 years.
"A real Duke football fan has got to go up at the top of the ladder of the most loyal fans in all of college athletics," head coach David Cutcliffe said. "It's in my heart every year that, for so many people, you want to be successful because so many people deserve that."
Anyone searching for signs of a bright future doesn't have to look further than the Blue Devils' pair of true freshmen running backs, Shaquille Powell and Jela Duncan. Powell has led Duke in rushing in each of the two scrimmages the Blue Devils have had so far, and Duncan turned in a nine carry, 29-yard performance in his most recent action. Cutcliffe expects them both to contribute this year.
"I'm not afraid to use either one of them going into the first game," Cutcliffe said, noting that he has also been pleased with the performance of Juwan Thompson, the starter heading into camp.
• LB David Helton did suffer a mild concussion in Friday's scrimmage, according to Cutcliffe (that looked to be the case to the untrained eye). Once he gets back to his baseline measurements, he will resume football activities. Other than Helton, there were no noteworthy injuries from the scrimmage.
-- Laura Keeley