DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – There’s just something different about the first day of football practice in full pads.
The hits are harder.
The moves are a bit quicker.
All the senses are heightened just a touch when there’s the possibility of hard contact.
This is the one day that has created more former football players and created the most basketball and baseball players than any other day of the year.
The Duke Blue Devils held their first practice this morning all suited up.
It went a little longer than scheduled as Coach David Cutcliffe pushed his guys to finish out the session strong.
“That’s practicing 4th quarter football,” said Cutcliffe. “You want to know who’s going to bring it in the 4th quarter.”
One of the guys he’s counting on to “bring it” is graduate student Ben Frye.
He showed up to Durham as a freshman having made his mark in high school as a defensive end.
He then bulked up considerably to play defensive tackle.
This year, he slimmed back down in order to move outside and once again be a defensive end.
“Things are a little slower on the outside,” said Frye. “You have to kind of read the play with your eyes and make sure you know, depending on the play, to know your responsibility.”
“He’s got great balance. I think that’s part of the wrestler in him,” said Cutcliffe. “At defensive end, being able to play the zone reads and being able to manage the edge you got to have good feet and good balance.”
Another key piece to the Blue Devils’ success will be Jake Bobo.
The senior wideout is not only going to be a favorite target of quarterback Gunnar Holmberg but is expected to step into more of a leadership role on the team as well.
“I’ve always been a lead by example kind of guy first and that’s going to have to change a little bit this year,” said Bobo. “I had to change a little bit last year, being more vocal so that’s something I have to work on and will continue to work on.”
The Duke Blue Devils will get a better idea of how much more work needs to be done this Saturday when they hold their first scrimmage.