Sophomore wide receiver Jamison Crowder had a breakout season in 2012 with 70 receptions for a team-leading 1,025 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Crowder, who hails from Monroe, N.C., also broke an ACC record with a 99-yard touchdown reception in the regular season finale against Miami. He will lead Duke into the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 27 where the Blue Devils will face Cincinnati.
GoDuke.com: What was your reaction on finding out the team would be playing Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl Dec. 27 in Charlotte?
Jamison Crowder: It was a great thing. Since I'm from the Charlotte area, being able to go home and play in a bowl in front of my friends and family -- it's going to be a great experience. Our first bowl game and being at home, I couldn't be in a better situation.
GoDuke.com: Being from the Charlotte area, do you have friends or family that will be in attendance at the game?
JC: I do. I've had a lot of friends and family ask me about tickets here recently. I believe we only get like six tickets, so it's going to be tough trying to find a way for my friends and family to come. Some of them, I have to guarantee.
GoDuke.com: How will this season and participating in the Belk Bowl add to the Duke brand?
JC: It puts us out there. As a recruit, you want to see teams that are getting exposure and winning ball games. Even now with our new uniforms, just seeing stuff like that, it kind of fascinates high schoolers. From that aspect, we're bringing a lot of attention to our school and our program. And getting players can only make us better.
GoDuke.com: What are you most looking forward to about the whole Belk Bowl experience?
JC: I hear we get a shopping spree, so I'm looking forward to buying some clothes [laughs], and just the game itself - playing in the Panthers' Stadium. It's a stadium I'm familiar with. I've been to a lot of games, and just being able to play on the field, I'm probably going to have to settle myself down. I'm going to be so hyped up about it.
GoDuke.com: In the future, what will it mean to you to be able to say you were part of a team that earned a berth in a bowl game?
JC: It means a lot because it's been a while since we had a bowl team here at Duke. After I leave, being able to say I was a part of that team that went to the bowl game 18 years after the last one, that's a great accomplishment as a team and as an individual. It'll be great to look back and reflect on this year and being able to go to a bowl. But I've got two more years, so hopefully these next few years we can continue to progress and go to another bowl.
GoDuke.com: Given all the ups and downs of this season, how has it felt to be a part of this team and to cap the win over North Carolina with the winning touchdown?
JC: It's a great feeling, being a part of a team that's always successful. Even though towards the end of the season we didn't finish out as strong as we wanted to, we had a good first half of the season and we know that we have great ball players. Hopefully we can end the season with a win in the bowl game. But it's been great going out there practicing with the team and growing as a team, even through all the trials and tribulations we went through this year. It's been a real fun experience.
GoDuke.com: In what ways has the Duke coaching staff -- and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick in particular -- helped you develop in your time here?
JC: Coach Lubick, he's helped me develop on the field as far as route running and recognizing the importance of route running and different aspects of the game. In high school, you're just kind of out there, happy-go-lucky. But once you come to college, everything is a little more structured and the competition is a lot better. So just being able to pay attention to detail from defenders, just staying in the game -- he's helped me out a lot with that. Coach Cutcliffe -- he's a great influence. Every time he speaks about something, he's pretty much always right. A lot of things he's saying, I can relate to. So the coaches have a lot of influence on me and the team as well.
GoDuke.com: As you approach the end of your second season at Duke, how do you think you've grown from the player you were when you got to Duke?
JC: I think the most important aspect I've grown in is my confidence. Especially coming to college, you don't really know what to expect on the field and off the field. As far as on the field, the competition gets better than high school. I've gained a lot of confidence this year - just going out there and feeling comfortable in my position and playing my role.
GoDuke.com: As a returning player next year, how important is it to simultaneously treat the Belk Bowl game as the start of the 2013 season?
JC: It's the last game of 2012 but also the first game of 2013. It's going to be a statement of how we'll be going into next year. I think that's the way a lot of us are approaching it, from the young guys to everybody. We just want to go out there and end the season right. But at the same time, have a good look at what we're going to have coming back next year.
GoDuke.com: What have you learned from the leadership of this year's senior class?
JC: I've learned that hard work will pay off. For the seniors, it's been four or five years of not being able to go to a bowl game and enjoy the different activities that come with a bowl game. But they worked hard in the offseason and they made sure that us young guys were in shape. They were teammates to look up to.
JC: Just seeing their work ethic and knowing that when you work with those two guys, it's pretty much strictly business; no playing around. Me personally, I like to joke a little bit. But when you're working with them, you've got to be serious and locked in and focused on what's going on.
GoDuke.com: With Vernon set to graduate, do you feel as though you'll be expected to step up as a leader of the wide receiver group next season?
JC: Most definitely. I think I'm going to have to step up because we'll have some younger receivers. Even though I'm still young and I'm still learning, we'll have some younger receivers coming in next year. Max McCaffrey, Nick Hill and Anthony Nash are just a few of them. As far as me getting good experience this year, I'm going to have to lead and kind of help them with certain situations. I've been thinking about that - I'm going to have to step up my leadership role. I'm not much of a vocal leader - I like to lead by example. But I'm going to have to step my game up next year and make sure everything is right as far as the receiver corps.