Looking at Duke's football depth chart
The publication of Duke’s football media guide and its distribution for the ACC Kickoff media event today and Monday at Greensboro’s Grandover Resort means we have a preseson depth chart to analyze.
Duke’s large number of returning players removes most of the intrigue from the first team, particularly on offense.
Quarterback Anthony Boone, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Braxton Deaver return to anchor the offense as seniors this season.
Junior Shaquille Powell is listed as the starter at running back but redshirt senior Josh Snead and redshirt freshman Joseph Ajeigbe will also get plenty of carries as coach David Cutcliffe prefers to spread the load.
Along the offensive line, right guard Laken Tomlinson and left tackle Takoby Cofield are redshirt seniors who have started the last three years. Center Matt Skura, a redshirt junior, begins his second season as a starter.
The interesting points on offense come at left guard and right tackle, where Dave Harding and Perry Simmons need to be replaced.
Lucas Patrick took over the right tackle job when Simmons was injured prior to the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December. Patrick, a 6-4, 305-pound redshirt junior, is listed as the starter at left guard.
At right tackle, redshirt sophomore Casey Blaser and redshirt sophomore Tanner Stone are battling for the starting position. That will be something to watch when practice begins Aug. 4.
Another position that’s listed as up for grabs in the preseason (pardon the pun) is at wide receiver. Redshirt senior Isaac Blakeney and sophomore Ryan Smith are listed as either/or on the depth chart.
They couldn’t be more different in terms of physical tools. Blakeney stands 6-6 and weighs 225 pounds. Smith is 5-7 and weighs 165 pounds. Blakeney is the big target, while Smith’s has the more trusted hands of the two.
On defense, Duke has some holes to fill which makes things more interesting on the depth chart.
Up front, defensive tackle Jamal Bruce is the lone returning starter of the four positions. Redshirt seniors Dezmond Johnson and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo are listed as starters at defensive ends. Both have extensive playing experience, although mostly as reserves.
Junior Carlos Wray is listed as the starter at defensive tackle alongside of Bruce.
At linebacker, Duke is set with experienced and productive players in redshirt senior Kelby Brown and senior David Helton. Brown was an all-ACC selection last season, recording 114 tackles with 11 for losses. He also intercepted two passes. Helton led the ACC in tackles last season (133) .
The secondary sees an overhaul in the starting jobs but the players taking the jobs are not unknowns.
With Ross Cockrell off to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and Garett Patterson also having graduated, sophomores Bryon Fields and Breon Borders are listed as the starting cornerbacks. Fields had six pass breakups in a reserve role last season, while Borders tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
At safeties, Jeremy Cash returns as a redshirt junior as one of the ACC’s top defensive backs. Cash also had four interceptions last season while finishing second on the Blue Devils with 121 tackles (including 9.5 for losses).
Sophomores Deondre Singleton and DeVon Edwards fill the other two starting jobs at safety. Edwards returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns last season, while Singleton had one interception, four pass breakups and three tackles for losses.
QB: Anthony Boone, Thomas Sirk
RB: Shaquille Powell, Josh Snead
WR (X): Max McCaffrey, Anthony Nash
WR (Z): Jamison Crowder, Johnell Barnes
WR (Y): Isaac Blakeney or Ryan Smith, Quay Chambers
TE: Braxton Deaver, David Reeves
LT: Takoby Cofield, Gabe Bradner
LG: Lucas Patrick, Carson Ginn or Marcus Aprahamian
C: Matt Skura, Austin Davis
RG: Laken Tomlinson, Cody Robinson
RT: Casey Blaser or Tanner Stone
K: Ross Martin, Jack Willoughby
LDE: Dezmond Johnson, Kyler Brown
LDT: Jamal Bruce, A.J. Wolf
RDT: Carlos Wray, Jamal Wallace
RDE: Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo
LB (Mike): Kelby Brown, C.J. France or Deion Williams
LB (Will): David Helton, Chris Holmes
CB: Bryon Fields, DeVon Edwards
CB: Breon Borders, Evrett Edwards
S (Rover): DeVon Edwards, Dwyane Norman or Quay Mann
S (Strike): Jeremy Cash, Corbin McCarthy
S (Bandit): Deondre Singleton, Evrett Edwards or Phillip Carter
P: Will Monday, Danny Stirt
LS: Thomas Hennessey