Before the national signing day dust has even had time to settle on the fax machine, Duke is pushing ahead to the next part of the football calendar.
For the second consecutive year, Duke will be the first Power Five school to start spring practice, and the Blue Devils will be done long before the calendar actually turns to spring.
Practices start Friday and the spring game will be Feb. 28, still held on campus despite ongoing construction (the indoor or outdoor practice field will likely serve as the venue).
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The to-do list is quite long for the Blue Devils. They need to find three defensive linemen, two top receivers, two offensive linemen and, most importantly, a quarterback.
We’ll hear from the Blue Devils next week, after they go through a few practices, so projecting some of those new starters will become easier then. But it is worth looking at the No. 1 question facing Duke next season: Who is the starting quarterback?
In coach David Cutcliffe’s eight seasons in Durham, he has never returned less quarterback experience. When Thad Lewis graduated after the 2009 season, Sean Renfree had attempted 50 career passes during that campaign.
When Renfree left after the 2012 season, Anthony Boone had started a game and attempted 148 passes. Brandon Connette had seen game time, too.
Now, with Boone’s departure, Duke is left with three quarterbacks who have a combined 16 career pass attempts.
Cutcliffe said Wednesday that rising redshirt junior Thomas Sirk will enter spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback.
Sirk, who redshirted and then tore his Achilles, wiping out his 2013 season, too, scored the winning touchdown in double overtime against Pittsburgh this past season, running it in from 5 yards. He was used primarily as a short-yardage runner last season – Sirk only attempted 14 passes, completing 10.
Redshirt sophomore Parker Boehme is the No. 2. He has played just 15 snaps and attempted two passes, appearing late in games against Elon, Kansas and Wake Forest.
Nico Pierre was a four-star recruit and ranked among the 300 best prospects, according to ESPN, when he committed to Duke in August 2013. By the time signing day came around, his stock had fallen a bit, as he was no longer in ESPN’s top 300. After a year of running the scout team offense, Pierre enters the spring as the No. 3.
There are no clear answers to Duke’s quarterback question (and that was made clear by the Blue Devils’ interest in potential graduate transfers at that position). Starting Friday, though, Duke will be looking for answers.