DURHAM There are no true freshmen on Dukes preseason depth chart at wide receiver, but a few of the youngest players have caught the attention of Jamison Crowder.
Crowder, who led Duke with 1,074 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season (on 76 receptions) was asked about Johnell Barnes and listed his speed and quickness, especially at getting off the press and jam at the line, as his most impressive traits.
Despite not yet catching a pass for Duke, Barnes already has made an impression on quarterback Anthony Boone.
Hes the most extroverted, Boone said of Barnes last month in Greensboro. Hell pull me aside and say, listen, Im going to be the best receiver youve got. Or hey, listen, throw the ball to me.
First day he stepped foot on campus, he had a point to prove. He wants to prove a point, and I dont blame him. Hes a receiver.
When asked Monday if there were any other standouts, Crowder was quick with a name.
Ryan Smith, one of the new guys that came in from (Las Vegas) Bishop Gorman High School, his speed and quickness also, along with great hands, Crowder said. He impressed me a lot, too.
Boone and Crowder spent the latter part of the summer working with the freshmen and the rest of the offense during player-led workouts. In addition to Crowder, Duke will likely start sophomore Max McCaffrey, the most introverted of the group, Boone said, and redshirt junior Issac Blakeney in the slot. Blakeneys size 6-foot-6, 235 pounds has Boone excited.
Hes not scared to go get the ball, Boone said.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Nash will also be in the mix at receiver for the Blue Devils, as will 6-7 Erich Schneider in the slot. Unlike last year, when seniors Conner Vernon and Desmond Scott, along with Crowder, took the lions share of the catches, there should be opportunities for young receivers to, as Boone put it, show out and display their talents.
Wide receivers are all in a sense cocky and want to get their shine, Boone said. Every receiver in the country is like, hey, get me the ball, Im open. Everybody is open all the time.
LT Crisp back, ready
RALEIGH Rob Crisp broke his tailbone in N.C. States first game of the 2012 season.
That wasnt even the most painful part of the left tackles junior season. He missed five games after the initial injury and then labored through the final seven games despite the pain.
I never got back to 100 percent the rest of the season, said Crisp, the Wolfpacks top offensive lineman.
Crisp is finally healthy and of all the offseason body transformations on the roster under the care of new strength coach Jason Veltkamp, his might be the most dramatic.
At 6-7 and 298 pounds, Crisp looks more like an NBA power forward than NFL left tackle. He has lost only seven pounds since the end of last season but hes noticeably slimmer.
In order to run the style of offense, you have to be in pretty good shape, Crisp said.
Crisp, who was a five-star recruit out of Athens Drive High, looks like a senior ready for his last go-round and ready for an audition for the NFL.
That time will come, Im just worried about whats best for the team, Crisp said. If we win games, it makes everyone look good. Joe Giglio
Backup QB gets another chance
CHAPEL HILL After leaving school last spring because of an academic issue, North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams knew he had work to do. He focused on internal improvement, he said after a recent practice.
Im working on my maturity and just being more focused, Williams said. Thats one thing Ive been focusing on this year when I went through my adversity being a more mature guy than I was.
A lack of maturity cost Williams, a highly recruited prospect out of Mallard Creek High in Charlotte. Because of what he described as a mistake, he was dismissed from school and missed spring practice.
He re-enrolled during the first summer session. During his time away, he said he prayed to become a better man.
He said he attempted to concentrate on the future, but he also knew he had to win back trust from his teammates and coaches.
Williams, a redshirt sophomore, spent last season as the backup to Bryn Renner. Its not a given that he will regain the backup job. Hes competing with Mitch Trubisky, a freshman who enrolled in the spring.
He actually surprised me a little bit, coach Larry Fedora said of Williams. Just how smooth hes transitioned back in. Andrew Carter