"Honestly the move [to safety] has gone really well for me," said Brandon Braxton. "Any time there is a change you have to wonder how it'll go, but I've really enjoyed it so far. It's been a lot of fun and I'm happy to do anything to make my team better."
Last season Braxton played in all 12 games as a wide receiver, catching 40 passes for 352 yards. He also earned time on special teams where he recorded 9 solo tackles on coverage duty. It was that performance that appears to have motivated the coaching staff to make the switch. Even before telling Braxton.
"I didn't know too much about it, really. I had heard some things throughout the grapevine, but didn't think too much of it until my dad called and asked if I was playing defense this year. At that point I called Coach Cutcliffe and he told me I was moving. He said he felt like I was going to be able to really help out there this year. I told him that I would do whatever I can to get us to a bowl."
Bowl game talk has always been a favorite topic of the off-season in Durham, and there have been a number of positive signs that indicate the team is inching closer to that goal. And yet, Duke remains shut out of the post season since 1994. So what, in Braxton's opinion, has changed?
"I think as each team cycles out and new guys come in you have a change of attitude. The guys who are here aren't going to settle or be OK with just being competitive. Being competitive is another way of saying you're still losing. We're not gong to accept that around here. Not the coaches. Not the players."
One logistical concern for Braxton has been how to quickly pick up Duke's 4-2-5 defensive scheme after learning the Blue Devil offense for nearly three years. However, the junior to be says it's the scheme's simplicity that allows for an easy transition.
"In this scheme it's all about flying around on the field and making plays - especially from the safety position. I'm picking it up pretty quickly I think. It's also really great to have a familiar scheme in place for everyone. All the guys who played last year have really fallen back into step because they already know the system. That's a huge advantage for me since everyone knows what is going on. It's made it seamless for me."
Duke will host the program’s annual Spring Game presented by PNC Bank on Saturday, March 31 at Wallace Wade Stadium. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m., and admission is free of charge.