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Future Duke quarterback prepared for transition

5/5/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Duke backup quarterback Sean Renfree was recruited by Tennessee and had committed to Georgia Tech, but he knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he called an audible and signed a letter of intent to play for Duke.

After all, David Cutcliffe was the one recruiting Renfree to Tennessee before he became the head coach at Duke.

"It's not that he had to tell me anything, it was mostly looking at his history and his track record," Renfree said of his recruiting process to Duke. "Not just who he coached -- that was great -- but what he did at Ole Miss, how he brought that program to life and took them to big places and great bowls. You just see what he's done with the offense at Tennessee when he was the offensive coordinator there and you just know he's the guy.

"In talking to him, you just feel he's a really confident guy. That's the one thing when I was on my visit, he was just confident he was going to take this team to bowls and we were going to win a lot of games. I became confident as well before I committed."

If it weren't for the coaching change at Georgia Tech, Renfree would be in Atlanta right now. Instead, he's in Durham, N.C., working with Cutcliffe to gradually change the face of Duke football.

This fall, Duke's transition from the previous coaching staff will be even more evident, as Renfree is part of Cutcliffe's first recruiting class. He's the future of Duke's offense and is expected to see some playing time as the No. 2 quarterback behind Thaddeus Lewis. Renfree earned the playing time this spring, but it's also a necessary move as the Blue Devils prepare for the graduation of Lewis, one of the most productive signal-callers in the ACC.

"Obviously it depends on what coach sees my role being," Renfree said. "I think coach makes us practice like games so that really helps. He treats it like a game for me. Obviously getting reps in games would be great, but I think I'd be prepared just from getting reps in practice."

Renfree, who redshirted last season, and Lewis are the only two scholarship quarterbacks currently on the roster, but it doesn't seem to be a problem.

"Renfree is awesome," said receiver Donovan Varner. "He goes out there and makes the check down calls, and he gets the ball out to you. Sean is going to be a big player."

As a senior at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Ariz., Renfree threw for 3,353 yards and 41 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Renfree's growth will give the Blue Devils the option to throw more. Opponents could see more three-receiver sets instead of two tight ends, a system likely to suit the up and coming pro-style quarterback.

Renfree said his responsibilities have to go beyond the field if the culture of Duke football is going to change.

"The main thing with our class is to be leaders for guys who are coming in behind us," he said. "We were coach Cut's first class and we're going to be leaders for classes that come after us and set the tone for how we work and how we play and the attitude we take towards the game."