The Duke football team, which has been galvanized by the leadership of first-year head coach Ted Roof, announced Thursday the selection of five captains who hope to maintain that positive energy throughout the season.
Earlier this week the team voted Giuseppe Aguanno, Phillip Alexander, Chris Dapolito, Ben Patrick and Kenneth Stanford captains for the upcoming season, which kicks off at Navy next Saturday afternoon.
“I think for any athlete for the team to respect them and vote them as a captain is probably the greatest honor,” said Dapolito, who enters the season as the backup quarterback.
Of the captains, tight end Patrick is the lone non-senior, but Roof said his selection is not a surprise.
“I think he pushes himself through his workouts,” Roof said. “Not just himself, but when other people are dragging, he encourages them. That’s leadership.”
Patrick, however, feels comfortable in his unusual role and thinks that his election to captain will help motivate some of the underclassmen.
“I have to step up,” Patrick said. “I think for the younger guys, it’s an uplifting thing.”
Aguanno, Alexander and Stanford represent each defensive unit. Stanford has started 27 games for the Blue Devils and is the most experienced player on the roster with 35 games played. Alexander, a defensive end, recorded 6.5 sacks and 59 tackles in 2003. Meanwhile, Aguanno anchors the linebacking core and had 34 tackles last season.
“I am going to take more of a leadership role now,” Aguanno said. “We’ve got a of leaders on this team, a lot of fifth-year guys who came back.”
While the team sorted out the captain slots, Roof was busy evaluating young talent at two of the key offensive skill positions, running back and wide receiver. The Blue Devils are extremely thin at both positions and will rely on true freshmen.
Triggered by the departure of receivers Khary Sharpe and Lance Johnson, Roof has decided not to redshirt freshmen Corey Thompson, Jomar Wright and Chancellor Young.
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At running back, junior Cedric Dargan has secured the starting slot, but the rest of the running back corps is highly inexperienced. Aaron Fryer is the only other returning running back to record a carry last season, and he had only eight.
“Aaron Fryer’s done some good things at times,” Roof said. “But from a consistency standpoint, he needs to pick it up.”
True freshman Justin Boyle, a hardnose runner, will also see time in the backfield this season.
“Justin Boyle, there’s no doubt about which way he’s going when he gets the ball and how he’s getting it, it’s just a matter of being precise on his assignments and that’s going to come with more reps. I’m very excited about his future,” Roof said.
Another freshman tailback, Ronnie Drummer, could return punts and kickoffs. Roof noted, however, that the speedy Drummer needs to get stronger.
“He’s got the one thing that we can’t coach, and that’s jet-like speed, so we’re definitely going to find something for Ronnie Drummer to do,” Roof said.