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Duke Football Notes

As Duke’s date with Notre Dame draws closer

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Chick-fil-A Kickoff - Duke v Alabama
TLANTA, GA - AUGUST 31: Duke Blue Devils defensive end Victor Dimukeje (51) during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Duke Blue Devils on August 31, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Duke defensive lineman Victor Dimukeje and offensive lineman Jacob Monk spoke to the media Thursday, via ZOOM, of course, and provided some position updates.

Dimukeje, Drew Jordan and Chris Rumph are a trio of defensive ends that should combine with defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo to anchor Duke’s defensive line.

You may have noticed that this group comprises one tackle and three ends.

If you’re a depth-chart wonk like myself you might also have noticed that Dimukeje and Jordan are listed at 265 and 270 pounds respectively. Presumptive other starting defensive tackle Ben Frye is listed at 255 pounds.

A position move?

Dimukeje doesn’t give away much. He’s the guy in the John Ford western who doesn’t say much but always seems to matter in the end.

Here’s what he did say.

“The coaches are trying to find ways to play us in many different situations. We really don’t know what we’re going to do. They’re still testing us out. I’m willing to do that. We’re all versatile and we can all move around the D-line.”

The youngsters?

“We’re going to have to play everybody. They are all making strides to play. Derrick [Tangelo] and Ben [Frye] are doing a good job of coaching those young guys.”

For the record those youngsters include redshirt freshmen DeWayne Carter, Christian Rorie, Caleb Oppan, Ahmad Craig, R.J. Oben and true freshmen Aeneas Peebles, Gary Smith and Michael Reese.

The numbers are there. Will the production follow?

Peebles is 6-2, 280 and seems to be the one guy whose names pops up the most. He’s from the Raleigh suburb of Knightdale. And Smith is listed at 320, Carter at 300, the kind of size that comes in handy in the ACC. It’s hard to see Duke having much success without several of these guys being ready to play at a level beyond their years.

The other side of the line was shaken this week by news that Jack Wohlabaugh is out with a knee injury, with ACL surgery imminent. The official word is that Wohlabaugh is out “indefinitely” but we’ve all seen enough ACL injuries to translate “indefinitely” into “next year at best.” Given that Wohlabaugh is a redshirt senior it’s a logical inference to assume we shall not again see him in a Duke uniform.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Wohlabaugh was on the preseason Remington Award watch list as one of the nation’s top centers and was on some All-America checklists and 2021 NFL mock drafts.


Monk confirmed that the next-man-up is Will Taylor, a redshirt junior who started three games late last season when Wohlabaugh was out with a foot injury. Taylor is listed at 305 pounds and has overcome some serious injury problems from early in his Duke career.

Monk says his teammates have noticed.

“He was told after his injury his freshman year that he would never play football again, would never run again and he’s battled through all the odds and here he is, now he’s a starter for Duke football. I can really see how much he’s grown since fall camp last year . . . He’s really embraced the leadership role.”

Duke has also moved true freshman Graham Barton from tackle to center to provide interior depth. Barton is a 315-pounder from Tennessee and was one of Duke’s top recruits last season.

Monk says he worked a little bit everywhere along the offensive line but right now seems to be at guard, “lot of competition” for playing time at that position, along with incumbent starter Rakavius Chambers, backup Maurice McIntyre and converted tackle Robert Kraeling.

Chambers and McIntyre are listed at 335 and 330 respectively.

Grad-student transfer Devery Hamilton (6-9, 310) and returning starter Casey Holman look to be the starters at tackle. Patrick Leitten has fully recovered from knee surgery and is pushing for playing time.

You may recall Jacob Monk’s father Stanley, a running back-and track sprinter-at Duke in the middle 1980s. Jacob’s late uncle Quincy was a linebacker at UNC and the NFL.

In other words, he comes from a football family.

Jacob says “Pretty much since birth I’ve known I was going to be a Blue Devil. I’ve been to every game since I was young. I’m just living the dream. It’s everything I imagined it would be and more.”

Hopefully, living the dream will soon include protecting Chase Brice, opening holes for Deon Jackson and shutting up the skeptics who see Duke as a second-division ACC team.