DURHAM, N.C. – During the final week of practice before the Spring Game, GoDuke.com sat down with redshirt senior defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento to talk about the experience on the defensive line, the young talent on the team and what fans can expect from the Spring Game on Saturday.
GoDuke.com: What was the defensive line able to accomplish during spring practice this year?
Sydney Sarmiento: We have gotten better every day. We’re giving the young guys some of the reps and seeing what they can do. Everybody has been stepping up here and there and everybody has had something that they need to work on. Everyone’s been taking strides to get there.
GoDuke.com: The defensive line finally has multiple seniors – how will that benefit the group?
SS: It’s definitely going to benefit us. Right now even with Kenny [Anunike] and [Justin] Foxx out, the energy is still felt on the sideline. Kenny has been very vocal. Foxx has been here every time we go in doing film work, trying to work with the ends, so it’s really good to have some guys who have been playing for a while.
GoDuke.com: Which young player or two are you most excited to see play in the fall after watching them this spring? What did they do to catch your eye?
SS: Carlos Wray, A.J. Wolf and Keilin [Rayner] have really stepped up on the inside. The ends have been stepping up; they are still young, and it’s a lot of visual stuff that they need to keep working on but it comes with reps in practice. [What stood out about those three] is their hard work, their effort, and always wanting to get better. I’ve been really impressed with their quick feet and their physicality.
GoDuke.com: Coach Petri is a veteran coach with a great track record – what have you learned from him?
SS: He is a great guy. He always wants the best for you. He just wants you to be a better football player and a better person. He’s very technical; teaching technique every day, and making sure that he gets on you for all of the little things. Things that you maybe don’t think about, but things that really work.
GoDuke.com: Not many players get to experience five spring practices – what do you remember about your initial spring season back in 2009?
SS: That was a long time ago. I remember the energy and the competition. When I first got here, we didn’t have too much competition, it was just back and forth, but now it’s really up there as one of the top in the ACC.
GoDuke.com: After a successful season in 2012, and now concluding spring practice this weekend, how do you carry the positive momentum into the summer months and ultimately into next season?
SS: We just need to remember what it was like to get to the bowl game and lose it. It hurt. Everybody thinks about it, and everybody wonders what would’ve happened – what if – but all you can do is change it now. Get better. Take it day-by-day, rep-by-rep.
GoDuke.com: What can Duke fans expect to see in Saturday’s Spring Game?
SS: A lot of fun. A lot of energy; just trying to have a good time.