Head coach David Cutcliffe's second season as Duke's leader brings with it not only high expectations, but also a promising freshman class.
After a strong recruiting effort on Cutcliffe's part along with the help of the entire Duke staff, the Class of 2013 comes in with 31 new players hailing from far-away hometowns in the Bahamas and Texas to local products from North Carolina. The new additions to East Campus bring a lot of talent, energy and promise to the Blue Devils as preseason begins to wind down and they look forward to the year.
"As far as the new season goes, we are obviously very excited to get another year under our belt," redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Renfree said. "We have a great new class and Coach did a great job of recruiting athletes, and he is really building a program. [The freshman] are doing really well for us so far and a lot of them can make good plays."
Although Cutcliffe sees all of his new recruits adding positively to the team as a whole, there were two players that stuck out to the coaching staff, the players and fans at a preseason scrimmage last Friday.
One player who had stood out at the scrimmage and looks to be a growing asset for Duke's offense is four-star recruit Desmond Scott. Scott is native to Durham and was charted as the top running back in North Carolina and the 23rd-best in the country by ESPN.com.
As a senior, Scott rushed 256 times for 2,249 yards and 24 touchdowns while catching 30 passes for 532 yards and five touchdowns. The running back added four kickoff returns for touchdowns in the state semifinals in leading Hillside High to a 12-2-1 record for the season. On Friday, Scott rushed four times for 20 yards, but also caught six passes for 39 yards.
"Desmond was real busy today and that is good," Cutcliffe said. "He was more consistent than he has been and he did well with his assignments and it was a good growth day for him."
The other player to catch the coaching staff's eye was Sean Schroeder, a quarterback from Laguna Niguel, Calif., was listed by ESPN.com as the 29th-best quarterback in the country prior to his decision to play for the Blue Devils. As a senior, Schroeder completed 175-of-267 passes for 2,826 yards with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a season that caught Cutcliffe's attention and made him a good fit for Duke.
Schroeder's slight build-he currently weighs in a 185 pounds-and the two quality quarterbacks in front of him on the depth chart will limit his time under center this season.
In the long run, though, he promises to be a good pickup for Duke. The first-year player was 7-of-9 for 61 yards last Friday, splitting time with Renfree and senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis.
"He's done really well, especially for a freshman," Renfree said. "My freshman year I was really dazed and he's done really well and he fits in. Thad and I both love him. He's fun to play with. Obviously, physically, he has to get a bit bigger, but he works really hard."
As the preseason nears its end, the best of the freshmen may still be yet to come. And, with Duke's first matchup against Richmond just a week away, the freshman class will have an immediate opportunity to show its team, its coaches and its fans the strides it has made in preseason to be ready for NCAA play.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.