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Duke football's David Cutcliffe discusses spring showcase, Pro Day and more

It's been an eventful week for Duke football.
It's been an eventful week for Duke football.

April has officially arrived, meaning two things—spring football is wrapping up and the NFL Draft is approaching fast.

The Blue Devils, having completed their spring showcase last Saturday, also held their annual Pro Day Monday. Seven players—safety Michael Carter II, cornerback Mark Gilbert, defensive ends Victor Dimukeje and Chris Rumph II, tight end Noah Gray, running back Deon Jackson and offensive lineman Devery Hamilton—participated in drills for NFL scouts. 

While there was no shortage of results for NFL teams to add to their files, a few numbers jumped off the page. For one, Gilbert, whose Duke career went from All-ACC corner to injury-ridden upperclassman, posted a time of 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash. 

Impressive times in the 40 was a common theme Monday, as Carter, Jackson and Gray ran the sprint in 4.30, 4.32 and 4.52 seconds, respectively, as well.

On Tuesday, head coach David Cutcliffe spoke with the media to discuss a laundry list of topics, including spring practice, Pro Day and the team's changes to the coaching staff. Here are a few notable highlights:

On his main takeaways from Saturday’s spring showcase:

“From a showcase standpoint, we got a lot of work [in], situational work not as much pure game-like. I was glad we got some practice time in, because that was really practice nine for us and we needed that—got some scrimmage work on top of it.”

On the plan for the rest of spring practice:

“We are kind of rocking along. What we decided to do…we did our normal game week Sunday, which is meetings and lift and get a good sweat, a light practice following in the indoor, kicking circuit. We’re a pretty young team—to a lot of young players that ended up being [practice] number 10, tomorrow’s number 11, more than likely we’ll go Friday, Saturday to 12, 13 and we’ll finish up next week.”

On associate head coach Trooper Taylor moving to the defensive side of the ball:

“When we lost a coach, we lost our corners coach, and I saw it as an opportunity. Trooper Taylor is one of the most talented coaches I’ve been around in a lot of ways, but from a football perspective, I’ve been with him where he’s been coaching running backs, receivers, secondary and he’s certainly going to play corner. He’s probably spent as much if not more of his time coaching defense and I love the energy that he brought and the enthusiasm that he’s taking to the defensive side of the football.”

On going with a different philosophy in naming co-offensive coordinators:

“We’ve got two really talented coaches in Jeff Faris and Re’quan Boyette. The co-coordinator thing, if you’ve got the right people, kind of adds a little spice to it. You know, none of us individually are as smart as all of us or both of us or whatever the circumstances are, and if they can work together, it creates more imagination and creativity.”

On his emotions after Pro Day:

“You know what was fun for me, you’re asking how it made me feel? When I see them care about each other, they’re encouraging each other. They got joy from their teammates doing well, from whether it was running or making a good play on a drill. It was really an encouraging day. The sad part was we couldn’t have our current players down there just because of the protocol circumstance, but you know, wow was that a good show by those seven young men.”

On Gilbert’s battle through injuries to put together a solid Pro Day performance:

“I think it was an emotional time for Mark. I mean, you want to talk about two years of some real difficulty emotionally. He and I have had a lot of long talks. I think it proved that he’s not only physically tough, he’s mentally tough, to overcome and to work at the level he’s working at right now."

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