DURHAM—David Cutcliffe wasn’t short on optimism or information at his first press conference of the preseason. In addition to Desmond Scott’s position switch, here are a few other odds and ends from Cutcliffe:
*Even though Cutcliffe opted not to single out any incoming freshman that he expected to play right away, he couldn’t help mentioning how impressed he was with kicker Ross Martin. The No. 1 rated high school kicker by Rivals and Under Armour All-American wowed Cutcliffe during Duke’s camp and impressed his teammates this summer.
“It was the most impressive thing I had seen in my career during a camp setting,” Cutcliffe said. “I kept trying to figure out a way to make him miss.”
Redshirt freshman Will Monday, who is expected to handle punting duties, and sophomore walk-on Jack Willoughby will compete with Martin for the job. Willoughby will miss the first five days of preseason while he is studying at Oxford.
The Blue Devils are looking for more consistency out of the kicking game this season. After an All-American junior year, Will Synderwine struggled during his senior campaign, going 8-for-17 in field goal attempts last season.
*In his 14-minute opening statement, Cutcliffe touched an a number of personnel issues:
- Duke hopes to know Thursday whether Ohio State transfer Jeremy Cash, a four-star safety coming out of high school, will be eligible to play this season. Cash, a sophomore, appeared in five games last season for the Buckeyes and transferred to Duke in January.
- Despite losing tight end Braxton Deaver and wide receiver Blair Holliday to injuries, Brandon Braxton will not move back to receiver, the position he played last year. He is expected to start at safety.
- Linebacker Kelby Brown, defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and nose guard Jamal Bruce—50 percent of the Blue Devils’ starting front six—are out indefinitely with injuries.
-Incoming freshman Keilin Rayner is moving from linebacker to nose guard. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, but Cutcliffe said he is now over 265. Redshirt sophomore Steven Ingram (6-foot-2, 315 pounds) is listed as the backup to Bruce on the depth chart.
-Redshirt sophomore Jamal Wallace, the backup left defensive end, has moved to defensive tackle. Wallace recorded 15 total tackles last season.