Coach Cutcliffe has talked a lot about the team's weight loss goals. What's your contribution been?
I've lost around three pounds overall, but I gained a lot more muscle, which has really been a positive thing. As a team we are a lot stronger. The ACC is a league full of teams with a ton of speed, and we have to be able to match that.
What's the biggest difference you've noticed in yourself physically?
We are really focusing on getting our bodies right. Personally, I am feeling a lot better than I have in the last few years. Honestly, I haven't felt this good since my freshman year. I have noticed a real difference in my speed and quickness.
What's it like working with the new coaching staff?
It's been really great. Each coach has a different personality, but all of them are really easy to get a long with. They coaches make it a lot easier to be loose around them - not so uptight. We know that tomorrow it's time to go to work, but I don't think they'll change too much when they step between the lines. They have been intense since they got here for conditioning and that kind of thing, and I don't see that changing. They are really consistent.
What, if anything, has changed in terms of the program's overall structure over the last few months?
A lot of things have changed since Coach Cutcliffe got here. The atmosphere is different as a whole around Duke. People are genuinely excited about football. And, of course, the team conditioning is a lot different. Expectations in the weight room are a lot higher. You are expected to constantly push yourself, which is only going to make us better. There has also been a real focus on improving our team speed and our power. Overall I just feel like things are a lining up for us to have a great year.
Can you give us a memorable experience from the conditioning sessions?
We first started doing 60 yard sprints there and back repeatedly. Each group had different time structures - linemen had 20 seconds; ends and linebackers had 18 seconds; and skill players had 16 seconds. One set was four or five times with everyone making it. We ended up doing something like 12 when we were only going to have to do six. Another time was they set up stations with each station having a non-stop continuous activity and you moved from station to station. It was a long day, but we got through it.
How is this year's Spring Practice going to be different from previous years?
We are going to be a lot faster and a lot quicker than in years past. We will also play a lot more physical than people are used to seeing with Duke. On offense we're going to open things up. We're going to use our wide receivers and our line will be in better shape so we can hold blocks longer when it's time to run.
Which teammates have you noticed the biggest improvements?
One player that has stuck out to me is Adam Banks. Just has a non-stop motor and he is always working. Another one is Wesley Oglesby who also seems to never stop working. Those two guys are really impressing people so far.
Which players do you see really breaking out this season?
I think Banks will surprise a lot of people on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively I think you are going to see a lot out of Sheldon Bell and Jeremy Ringfield.
What's your most memorable Coach Cutcliffe moment to date?
Any time he talks to us , I feel it's memorable. You hang on to every word he says. He's not only teaching football, but he's also put a section called life lessons in notebook. And he's got a story for everything. There's not a situation that comes up where Coach doesn't have some kind of story.
How will your role in the offense be different this year in the new offense?
I'll be a senior so my role will increase in all types of way -- both in productivity and as a team leader. I need to do whatever I can to make this team successful. If that means improving as a playmaker or as a blocker, or if it means helping on special teams, then that's what I need to do.
What's the biggest difference in the offensive unit as a whole that you've noticed so far with Coach Cutcliffe?
We've only been in meetings so far, but from what I've seen our offense if going to open up a lot. We're going to score a lot of points because we're going to have an explosive philosophy. We want to score 30 points per game. Guys like Thad, Eron, and Cliff are going to help us get there, and I just want to do my part.