DURHAM, N.C. – Rising redshirt senior center Austin Davis returns to the Duke football team for his second year as the team’s starting center. The Mansfield, Texas, native is one of seven returning starters on the Blue Devil offense after playing 869 total snaps during the 2016 campaign.
GoDuke.com: After seven spring workouts, how has the offensive line unit developed?
Austin Davis: Everyone has really done a good job of living up to our standards so far. Today was the end of practice No. 7 and I think everybody has done a good job gelling together. Even though Gabe Brandner isn’t out there now, I think Robert Kraeling has done a great job filling in for him. I think we’re all getting our chemistry out there. We have three new guys with Evan Lisle, Julian Santos and Kraeling in the starting group. It’s about being connected out there and how each of us is going to play.
GoDuke.com: One of Coach Cutcliffe’s points of emphasis is effort. How would you describe that element from the offensive line group right now?
AD: I think we’re doing a great job with effort. I think Coach [Marcus] Johnson has really put an emphasis on effort. You control how hard you go each and every play. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, as long as you go out and give it your all and hit someone, it’s probably going to work out in our favor. It’s all about having the effort to finish through the whistle. We can’t give up on blocks or plays because you never know what block could set a running back, quarterback or receiver free. Any given play can win a game, so you always have to give 100 percent.
GoDuke.com: How have you gotten to know Evan Lisle since he joined the program in January?
AD: I got to meet Evan one of his first few days on campus. It was during the January snowstorm, so we got to spend a lot of time together. It was a great time. I got lunch with him and really got to know and understand him and where he comes from. He’s a great guy. He comes from a great family and has great morals. He fits right in to our program here. The first day, he was able to fit in with the guys like he’d been here for three or four years. He really fits in well with his personality. I’m really amazed with what he can do on the field. He, obviously, has wonderful talent he has shown us out here each and every day. He was only a month out of pads when he got here, but he was ready to go. He was itching for the pads the first few days of spring. You love a guy who wants to hit and give it his all. That’s the type of guy Evan is.
GoDuke.com: What is it like for Daniel Jones entering his second year and being an established starter?
AD: Like I say every time, Daniel grows and grows every day. One thing I’ve really seen him grow in this spring is his leadership in the huddle. He commands the huddle. He’s willing to admit when he’s wrong. He’s willing to hold people accountable and make sure everyone is giving his all out there on the field. Daniel will go out, make checks and put us in the best position possible. He does a great job being a general on the field, commanding everybody where to go and making sure he runs this operation. When he runs this operation, we’re 100 percent behind him. We know he will lead us to get things if we continue to run for him, block for him and give it our all for him.