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With spring practice in swing, Duke football welcomes back Mark Gilbert and searches for a QB

Mark Gilbert participated in Duke's first spring practice Monday after missing the majority of the last two seasons due to  injury. Gilbert's return was met with open arms from Michael Carter II and other Blue Devil defensive backs.
Mark Gilbert participated in Duke's first spring practice Monday after missing the majority of the last two seasons due to injury. Gilbert's return was met with open arms from Michael Carter II and other Blue Devil defensive backs.

Ninety-three days after concluding a 5-7 2019 campaign, the Blue Devils returned to the practice field, holding their first spring practice Monday morning. After the practice, a trio of Duke players, quarterbacks Gunnar Holmberg and Chris Katrenick and safety Michael Carter II, and head coach David Cutcliffe addressed the media. Here are some key quotes from the media availability Monday.

Carter on seeing cornerback Mark Gilbert, who has missed the majority of the last two seasons, back on the practice field:

"It made us all happy to see him out here today, moving full speed. Just knowing everything he's had to go through, all the adversity he's faced. For him to be able to overcome it and get out here and smile through it all is really powerful for us. It makes us want to work hard for him, especially."

Cutcliffe on communication with incoming graduate transfer quarterback Chase Brice: 

“You always have technology today, so [Brice] gets a lot of information. Everything we can legally do, we’re doing. He’s willing to study, he’s hungry, we have phone conversations, so all the things you can do, we do. I have to be respectful of the fact that he’s a full time student at another university, he’s busy, but he’s a sponge. So we will continuously be in that mode.” 

Cutcliffe on the mindset of Gilbert throughout his battle with a hip injury:

“He’s full speed. His effort in rehab has been phenomenal and he’s gone through the initial surgery and another one to try to correct a few things. The doctors, the training room, and our physical therapists have done a great job with him, [he has] a willingness to work, and his attitude has been the best I’ve seen Mark have. He’s really been upbeat, and I think as he got closer to the realization, ‘I am going to be able to play this game again,’ he really got excited. So, he had a good time out there today, it was really evident.”

Cutcliffe on sophomore receiver Jalon Calhoun taking the next step and depth at the receiver position:

“I think he did it today. I told [wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor] after practice, when I’m coaching offense or coaching quarterbacks, I’m coaching all of them. Coaching him in detail today, I think he understands defenses, I think he understands instructions, and he goes and tries to do exactly what you ask him to do. His short-space quickness is better, his strength is better. He’s a guy that literally could catch ninety balls, but thank goodness he’s not alone. The receiving core today, we don’t have a bunch of numbers, we’ve got people coming in to help them, but we have to keep them healthy. Jarett Garner is still out, so we’re down one scholarship receiver, but I thought they had tremendous attitudes today and they played fast. We had a true freshman working out there [as well].”

Holmberg on the sense of competition amongst the quarterbacks:

"Iron sharpens iron. Me and [Katrenick] are good friends. Off the field, on the field, we're always trying to make each other better. We'll talk about certain things, but when we're out there, we're definitely competing against each other.... Don't do anything that you wouldn't out of character just because you're trying to win a job."

Katrenick on Cutcliffe taking reins of the offense:

"Big thing for us is going to be tempo and that'll show in practice. So, every drill we do, we're going to have tempo and focus on ball security, things like that. But, it's great learning from [Cutcliffe]. You know, when you mess up, there's always a good explanation and that's kind of how we're growing."

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