Training camp is less than two weeks away. Hooray! Before this year’s camp, experienced players for Duke are holding player-led practices to help the new guys adjust as much as possible. Redshirt-senior guard Dave Harding said the new guys are energetic, but they need direction.
“They’re trying to do their best, but you can tell that it's out of control,” he said. “Kind of like a baby giraffe trying to walk for the first time. Just flopping all over the place.”
Preseason All-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell said he tells guys not to overextend themselves and to take it slow over the summer.
“Once camp rolls around, everything is high tempo,” he said. “You can get lost out there. Take it slow right now and when it’s time to crank it up, we will crank it up.”
Redshirt-junior guard Laken Tomlinson said these summer practices will help guys adjust to the Duke way. Guys can learn what coaches expect and the fundamentals they want before training camp.
“It’s trying to skip the learning process for camp and get to playing football,” he said. “When you come in as a freshman, you come in and want to hit somebody. Coaches kind of hold you back and are like, ‘You have to learn how to play football first.’ So we are trying to teach them how to play football first and let them go play.”
When asked about his freshman year, Laken laughed first. He can’t quite remember the song he sang for the team, but it was something by Jamie Foxx and Twista. Dave Harding remembered his.
“I sang a Backstreet Boys song,” he said. “If I remember correctly, I was booed pretty much instantly. We as a freshman offensive line coming in made a pyramid...Teddy Force [an offensive tackle]…was the top of the pyramid. And back then he weighed probably 330.”
“I stole my roommate’s song,” Pre-season All-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell said with a smile. “It was Donell Jones, ‘Where I Wanna Be.’”
Unlike Dave, Ross said he was applauded for his effort. Ross also remembered the first day of camp was a “welcome to college” moment.
“The first practice, we were doing individual drills,” he said. “Our corner drill was we had to backpedal, turn, catch the ball and run back. We’re doing that drill. I dropped the ball, so I had to come back and do 10 up-downs. After [those] 10 up-downs, I was gassed for the rest of practice.”
QB Anthony Boone said he is not a morning person and didn’t always start training camp off on the right foot as a freshman.
“I had to get over learning how to stay awake in meetings,” he said. “You had to get up at 6:30 and get started at 7. I’m passed out, and they’re yelling at me…Then I’m on the field and I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Don’t worry, he said he learned his lesson and now stays awake and alert in those meetings. Now he tells the younger guys to look at team playbooks on iPads outside of team meetings.
With all of the advice the older guys have, the question remains whether the younger guys will listen.
“When we came in as freshman we thought all the guys our age were washed up and salty and bitter and ready to leave,” fifth-year player Dave Harding said and laughed. “I hope they don’t think the same thing about us.”