Veteran DE Justin Foxx back and will play in Duke's opener
A key piece of Duke’s defensive game plan is rounding into shape with the season fast approaching.
Redshirt senior defensive end Justin Foxx had knee surgery last Jan. 7, causing him to miss spring practice. Foxx remained slowed throughout the offseason and even when Duke began practice on Aug. 5.
But Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Thursday that Foxx is making rapid progress and will play when the Blue Devils open the season Aug. 31 against N.C. Central at Wallace Wade Stadium.
“He looks good,” Cutcliffe said. “He looks ready to play.”
Foxx is among a host of experienced players Duke is counting on to provide a solid defensive front. Kenny Anunike, a sixth-year senior at defensive end, is another along with redshirt senior defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento and redshirt juniors Jamal Wallace at defensive end and Jamal Bruce at nose guard.
Foxx played in nine games with seven starts last season when Duke went 6-7 and played in the Belk Bowl. Foxx missed four games with a ruptured ligament in the ring finger on his right hand.
He still finished with 46 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, and won the Mike McGee Award as Duke’s top defensive lineman.
Cutcliffe said Foxx showed those skills in practice this week.
“He’s been full speed,” Cutcliffe said. “He had a great day rushing the passer in a third-down drill.”
Cutcliffe’s lone concern now is conditioning. Because the plan was to ease Foxx back into things, his repetitions in practice were limited. He went full speed when he did work, Cutcliffe said, but he didn’t take all the snaps in practice.
“We count the number of snaps just like they would pitches in baseball for a guy coming back from injury,” Cutcliffe said.
So while Foxx is healthy again, his playing time against N.C. Central figures to remain on the limited side as he regains his stamina.
But, given where he’s been since last January, that’s still good news for Duke.
Cutcliffe reiterated Thursday that redshirt junior defensive end Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo remains not ready to play.
Dewalt-Ondijo had surgery to repair an ankle injury on May 22. His aggressiveness in the pass rush earned him a start against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. He played in 12 games for Duke and had 2.5 sacks for the season.
But Cutcliffe said Dewalt-Ondijo is still working toward getting healthy so he looks to be out for the NCCU game.
“I do not see him playing,” Cutcliffe said.
Sophomore walk-on cornerback Hud Mellencamp is being allowed to practice with the Blue Devils while his felony battery case is dealt with in the Indiana court system.
The 19-year-old Mellencamp, his 18-year-old brother, Speck, and another teenager were charged with felony battery last week. The charges stem from a July incident when Monroe County, Ind., police say the brothers, sons of rock star John Mellencamp, and Ty Smith allegedly attacked a Bloomington, Ind., another 19-year-old man on his front porch.
Hud Mellencamp returned to Indiana last Sunday and surrendered to police on the charge Monday. He has since returned to Durham to rejoin the team.
“With the information available to me that’s the decision I’ve made,” Cutcliffe said. “We’ll let the legal due process occur.”
Hud Mellencamp has yet to play in a game for Duke since he joined the team last year.