Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Offseason spotlight: Duke
By Heather Dinich
Duke returns 17 starters from last year's historic 10-win season that included an appearance in the ACC title game and Chick-fil-A Bowl. Of the eight starters that have to be replaced, though, three are on the defensive line. Here's a look at who's in the spotlight up front for the Blue Devils this offseason:
Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo has made some big plays at Duke, but will be counted upon to be a more consistent force in 2014.
2013 summary: He played in 10 games last season (224 snaps), and finished with nine total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback pressures. In spite of his reserve role, DeWalt-Ondijo has a knack for making game-changing plays. His hit on North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams last season led to the game-sealing interception by DeVon Edwards with 13 seconds left in the 27-25 road victory that secured the ACC’s Coastal Division championship.
The skinny: Duke must replace both starting defensive ends from 2013, including Kenny Anunike, a two-time All-ACC selection, and Justin Foxx, who was also a team captain. The only starter returning on Duke’s defensive line is nose guard Jamal Bruce. Anunike, Foxx, Bruce and Sydney Sarmiento, who also has to be replaced, started all 14 games for Duke last season.
When he’s healthy, DeWalt-Ondijo has big-play ability and good speed and quickness, but the key is keeping him on the field. He had surgery on his left ankle last May and has missed seven games in his career because of injuries, including four last season (North Carolina Central, Memphis, Georgia Tech and NC State).
He has only started nine games in his career, but when he’s in, he’s clutch. His two forced fumbles came on sacks and set up the game-winning, fourth-quarter drives against FIU in 2011 and Wake Forest in 2012. DeWalt-Ondijo had two sacks in Duke's spring game and has shown potential with his pass-rushing abilities as a backup, but now it’s time for him to showcase those skills on a consistent basis.