SNEAD RETURNING TO FORM
While watching from the sideline during the entire 2011 season was not the original plan, running back Josh Snead has made the most of the situation.
"I'm feeling great," Snead said. "I feel that coming off of the injury, I've matured a little bit more and I understand the playbook - it's really making the game slow down a little bit. It's really helping me out on the field. I've gotten a chance to grasp the playbook, sit back and see the game from another perspective."
Due to an injured foot, Snead missed all 12 games last fall after leading Duke in rushing yards per attempt (4.91) and totaling 704 all-purpose yards in 2010 as a true freshman. Confident that he's completely healed, Snead displayed his natural bust of speed with a 47-yard jaunt during Saturday's scrimmage.
"I'm 100 percent," he said. "I'm ready to go. I'll say I'm 110 percent. I can't be better."
Snead's return helps bolster the depth of Duke's running back group that returns Juwan Thompson, who led the Blue Devils with 457 yards and seven rushing touchdowns last season, and Desmond Scott, who last year became the 39th player in Duke history to reach 1,000 career yards on the ground.
"I think that it's really helping us out that we've got more backs," Snead noted. "A lot of us can play different positions, but it gives us a chance to come out here and compete each and every day for playing time."
ANUNIKE ANXIOUS FOR RETURN
Last week, the NCAA granted a sixth year of eligibility for defensive end Kenny Anunike, providing the defensive end with participation for the 2013 season. Anunike has not competed in spring drills while recovering from knee surgery.
"The rehab process is coming along great," Anunike said. "I'm working out with Kerry Mullenix and Hap Zarzour, and they're really taking care of me. Duke has the best facilities in the nation and the best staff to definitely get me back on track; get me ready for this upcoming summer and the season. I can't wait."
With the graduation of Charlie Hatcher, Anunike becomes the elder statesman of the defensive line unit and will be called upon for leadership within the group.
"I'll bring the fire, the passion," he said. "I'm usually high-powered, motor always going, just keeping everybody in the game. And definitely being an older guy, I feel like the guys under me have seen what I've been through, all the adversity that I've come through - and I've come a long way. And that perseverance and as long as we keep working together, we're going to make things happen. I think that presence on the field definitely aids our defense.
"We're the front line so everything starts with us, and then it trickles down back to the safeties," he continued. "I already have a whole bunch of guys coming up to me saying they can't wait for me to get back because they miss my passion out there and my vocalizations - so I can't wait to get back out there and play with them."
HOLLIDAY LEARNING AS HE GOES
Last fall as a true freshman, wide receiver Blair Holliday got a taste of what it takes to be successful in the Atlantic Coast Conference. With the graduation of Donovan Varner (61 receptions in 2011) and shifting of Brandon Braxton (40 receptions in 2011) into the defensive secondary, the Sherman Oaks, Calif., product has become an integral part of Duke's offense.
"The fall season was a great learning experience - watching Conner [Vernon], watching Brandon [Braxton], watching Don[ovan Varner]," Holliday said. "Just learning - going through tape, meeting with them - it just showed me the amount of work, the amount of hustle and the amount of effort you need to put in. It was a big jump from high school to college, and watching those guys showed me how I need to prepare and practice."
Holliday led all receivers with eight receptions for 84 yards in the first scrimmage of spring drills, and hauled in a 15-yard scoring strike from Sean Renfree. Last fall, Holliday played in 10 games and caught three passes for 30 yards.
"We've done a lot of individual work this spring; more than any other year," said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. "It's paid off with players like Blair Holliday, who you can just see he's jumped leaps and bounds from where he was."
Holliday cites work ethic as the area in which he has made the most improvement.
"Coming out of high school, it was a big jump, and coming in I wasn't doing what I really needed to be doing," he said. "I talked with Conner, talked with Don, and talked with the other guys and I learned from them."
FROM FOOTBALL TO LACROSSE
Two members of the 2011 Blue Devil football squad - Greg DeLuca and Brendan Fowler - are helping the Duke lacrosse team this spring. The Blue Devils are 6-3 on the year - including a perfect 6-0 mark at home - and are ranked 10th nationally this week after defeating rival North Carolina and Dartmouth over the weekend.
Both have played in all nine games, with DeLuca contributing one goal while winning six-of-12 (.500) face-offs while Fowler has one goal and one assist on the season while securing 43-of-67 (.642) draws.
** Duke will hold its annual Pro Timing Day on Thursday, where former Blue Devils will put their abilities on display for NFL scouts.
** The annual Spring Game is slated for Saturday, March 31 in Wallace Wade Stadium. Kick-off will be at 1 p.m., and admission to the event is free of charge.
** Season tickets are on sale now - visit GoDuke.com or call 919-681-BLUE.