Dontae Johnson figures to be the
busiest target on N.C. State’s defense.
The junior cornerback will line up
on the opposite side of the field as Da−
vid Amerson, who led the country in
interceptions last season.
And that’s fine with Johnson, who’s
making the transition from safety to
the boundary corner, or short side of
“I see it as an opportunity to make
plays,” Johnson said. “The coaches
trust me to put me out
there and make plays
and that’s what I want to
Johnson started two
games at the end of the
2011 season and recorded three sacks
in the final three games, playing pri−
marily as a nickel defender.
Johnson was used as much as a
pass-rusher as he was in pass cover−
age. He will still be used situationally
at nickel, but his job will be to inter−
cept the quarterback, not hit him.
“I got to blitz like a linebacker last
year,” Johnson said. “That can be fun.”
Johnson expects to be tested often
on the opposite side of Amerson, who
set a new ACC record with 13 inter−
ceptions last season.
At 6-3 and 190 pounds, Johnson has
a similar build to Amerson (6-3, 194).
N.C. State is hoping like Amerson,
who played safety in high school,
Johnson will make a smooth transi−
tion to the corner.
Johnson said Amerson has been a
good example in practice of how to
play the outside position.
“I’m starting to catch on to what
he’s doing,” Johnson said. “Hopefully,
I’ll just do the same thing on the other
side.” – J.P. Giglio
UNC freshman wide receiver Davis
close to being cleared to practice
Quinshad Davis couldn’t practice
but there he stood on Monday morn−
ing on the North Carolina practice
fields, wearing a pair of receiving
gloves and his No. 14 jersey. He looked
the part, anyway.
Davis, perhaps the
Tar Heels’ most antici−
pated incoming recruit,
hasn’t yet been cleared to practice be−
cause of an unspecified medical issue.
But his clearance is coming soon,
UNC coach Larry Fedora said.
“I think we’re real close,” Fedora
said. “I mean, it’s really good. I think
there’s a couple signatures to be made
and then we’re ready to go. So I’m an−
ticipating him being out here on
Wednesday is what I’ve been told.”
The Tar Heels won’t practice on
Tuesday but will resume on Wednes−
Davis, a 6-foot-4 receiver from
Gaffney, S.C., earned Parade All-
American honors a season ago, and
also was South Carolina’s Gatorade
Player of the Year.
Once he’s cleared to start practic−
ing, he’ll be a welcome addition to a
receiving corps that is already experi−
encing depth woes.
Erik Highsmith, the senior who is
the Heels’ leading returning receiver,
is the latest to battle an injury. He
wore an orange jersey in practice on
Monday, signifying his limited partici−
pation in practice. Two other receiv−
ers – Reggie Wilkins and Sean Tapley
– have both missed
practice time due to mi−
“We’ve been looking at Quinshad coming back for a while now,” quarterback Bryn Renner said. “He had a great summer. The kid worked his butt off with [strength] coach [Lou] Hernandez and really deserves to be out here and playing with us. I think he’s chomping at the bit.” – Andrew Carter
Blue Devils to capitalize on 4-2-5
scheme for second year in a row
Through the opening days of the
Blue Devils’ preseason, head coach
David Cutcliffe singled out his defen−
sive unit as a group that was ahead of
schedule from years prior.
“Where aour defense is mentally, schematically, I just see a different defense than we’ve seen out here,” he said. “We’re able to do more things, do more things effectively. With the defense, every little part effects the other, and there’s just cohesiveness beyond what we’re had.”
This will be the Blue Devils’ second
year in the 4-2-5 scheme. After study−
ing which formations they most often
faced, Cutcliffe and his staff found
that, far and away, Duke saw some
type of three wide receiver set.
“We are in an era of spread offense,” he said. “What we think is that we can find those versatile athletes at the safety positions that can play like linebackers and cover like DBs.”
Currently, the starters at safety for
Duke are Brandon Braxton, Walt Can−
ty and Jordon Byas. Braxton moved
over from wide receiver last year, and
Canty switched spots to take over for
the graduated Matt Daniels, who is
currently in camp with the St. Louis
Rams. – Laura Keeley