Tavarez Ready For Duke

Chris Tavarez

Not many players from the recruiting class of 2011 will have the kind of story of Atlanta prospect Chris Tavarez. After taking most of the summer off to film a feature film for Disney, the talented safety prospect has turned his attention towards Duke and helping the program continue to gain momentum.

I visited Duke during the first weekend of December," said Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake standout Chris Tavarez. "The entire visit was fantastic."

A great visit was a nice change in the football world for Tavarez who missed almost half his senior season with a high ankle sprain as Westlake finished the year with a 3-7 overall record.

"It was rough [being injured], but I think our record was mainly a result of being a young and pretty inexperienced team. When I was healthy I played mostly middle linebacker and then on special teams."

Despite the limited time on the field, Tavarez says he feels like the experience really helped prepare him for the next level.

"I feel that I improved on my tackling skills and overall stamina. Playing linebacker really helps when it comes to breaking down and squaring up on the runner. The fundamentals I learned to play the linebacker position will definitely help me when I play safety at Duke next season."

Next year seems to imply there will be no redshirt season for the talented prospect. At least that's his plan.

"I am not planning on redshirting. I am working on reaching 210 pounds over the summer so I can be physically ready to play as a freshman. I know my abilities and skills are there to play as a freshman just want my body to be there as well."

His desire and plan to break into the two-deep at safety sounds a lot like another former Georgia prospect who came to Duke a few years ago. In fact it sounds a lot like the player who served as host for Tavarez during his visit.

"Matt Daniels was my host for the visit. He's also from Atlanta so we had a lot in common and he was able to answer a lot of the questions I had about college. When I wasn't hanging out with Matt, my days were pretty busy. We toured the campus and the different schools and got a chance to talk over the different majors while also talking to the directors of admissions. We also got a ton of food!"

"Out of all the coaches I think I interacted the most with Coach Middleton, my recruiter. He's been with me from the beginning showing me loyalty and love. I interacted with Coach Knowles as well. We broke down film and did some work on the board. He gave me a great idea of what I would be playing on defense and what I will be best at."

Certainly 2010 was a rough season for the Blue Devils who were close to winning a number of games against tough opponents, but it wasn't enough as Duke finished just 3-9 on the season. Despite the disappointment of 2010 overall, Tavarez says the coaches were upbeat and looking forward to making 2011 that much better.

"Coach Cutcliffe and the coaching staff are working up something special at Duke. Many people don't realize that we lost five games this year by five points or less. The future is very bright and we are going to be top ACC contenders in the years to come."

"[The coaches] are the reason I chose Duke in the first place. They are stressing loyalty, academics, and the bright future ahead. These three things made my choose Duke and they have lived up to all three areas. They were the first school to contact me and the first to offer. Their academics are extremely prestigious and a degree from Duke will speak volumes in the future. I think they liked my intensity and drive on the field and I think it's a perfect situation for me and for Duke."

After the holidays Tavarez will sign his national letter of intent and then focus on enjoying the rest of his senior year. He plans to enrolled at Duke in mid-May before heading home to Georgia to graduate on May 27th.

"All the players said that was the best way to do it because you get an early jump on classes and adjusting to college life. I'm really excited to get there."

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