Ross Cockrell sat down at the Duke table in the writer’s room, and he didn’t draw quite the crowd Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone did. Even so, he still talked with writers for an hour and told me afterwards that he wouldn’t want to do that for another hour or two. Answering question after question can be pretty draining. But for a player whose goal is to be an athletic director, it is something he will have to get used to.
When asked if he was nervous or worried about the young secondary, Cockrell said he wasn’t concerned.
“We’ve got so many guys up front that are strong, physical and will protect us,” he said. “When you look
at all the great defenses around the nation, they all have one thing in common. They all have a great defensive front.”
On the back end, he described the team as young, talented and athletic. He couldn’t remember all of the talented young players because there are so many.
“They just got here two weeks ago,” he said and laughed. “I’m still trying to learn everybody.”
All of this talent is a huge change from a few years ago when he started at Duke.
“I’m seeing guys now that you would never see on Duke’s campus,” he said. “We’ve got corners now that are 6’0”, 180 lb. coming in when I was 6’0”, 180 lb. playing last year… We’ve got bigger, physical more athletic guys coming into the program into the defensive secondary.”
One player he expects to make an impact is Jeremy Cash.
“I expect him to be one of our leading tacklers,” Cockrell said. “He has a nose for the ball. He has good instincts for that, and he’s not afraid to put his head in there.”
He said the team is focused on finishing this year. If that phrase sounds familiar, it should. Besides being a sports cliché, Anthony Boone said the same thing.
“We lost the last five games of the season,” Cockrell said. “We all know that. We all understand that. And it’s not a good feeling.”
When he heard that Duke had never been to bowl games in consecutive years, he was shocked but said the team is focused on finishing.
“Last season we kind of let the bowl game get to our heads a little bit,” he said. “This year, we understand that whether it is practice, a drill or even going through the course of the season, it is all about finishing.”