Before David Cutcliffe resurrected Duke, he helped resurrect the career of Peyton Manning. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
DURHAM—In between his coaching duties to the only team that controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe keeps in touch with his former players and friends. Monday night, he spent 50 minutes on the phone with perhaps his most famous former tutee: Peyton Manning.
Manning was back in North Carolina for a game against the Panthers Sunday, and it was the first time he had come back to the state after spending the winter rehabbing with Cutcliffe at Duke. Manning picked apart the Panthers defense, going 27-of-38 for 301 yards and a touchdown in the Denver Broncos’ 36-14 win.
Cutcliffe, who was Manning’s quarterback coach at Tennessee, said Manning was emotional about his return to the Tar Heel State, and the two reminisced about reuniting last winter.
“That was the gist of our conversation last night,” Cutcliffe said. “It was a little emotional for me. It was an interesting time. We both decided that we got to go back in time and really do that. And you don’t ever get to do that. All of the sudden, I was a quarterback coach with hair. It was incredible. And he was a really young, skinny quarterback. It was pretty special.”
Cutcliffe also keeps tabs on Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who also worked out with Manning on Duke’s campus. Stokley caught Manning’s touchdown pass against the Panthers and has 28 receptions for 332 yards on the year.
I think Stokley is playing great. He was hurt when he was here and he pushed through it. I think his son is 9 or 10, but I sent Stokley a text saying, ‘hey, you’re playing so good that I’m offering your son right now. A scholarship.’ That’s probably an NCAA violation to say it, but that’s ok. I’m happy for those guys.”
It is, in fact, a secondary violation, as coaches are not allowed to talk about recruits before they sign National Letters of Intent in February of their senior year. All jokes aside, Cutcliffe’s pride in Manning and Stokley’s success was clear.