Duke has different mind-set this spring

Winning has changed plenty for Duke, including the way players have approached practice this spring.

The Blue Devils are a bowl team now, and that means attitudes have changed, goals have changed and responsibilities have changed.

"We know now that we are considered a bowl team, the pressure to make another bowl has increased with good reason," defensive end Kenny Anunike said in a recent phone interview. "And we’re up to that challenge. Like coach (David Cutcliffe) always told us, 'I promise you -- you won’t want to do without it again.' Having those bowl practices, getting those bowl gifts, doing bowl events -- it was amazing. Why wouldn’t we want to reach that again? We want to go higher. We almost made it to the ACC championship this year. We missed it by one game. We’re still hungry. Nobody’s content on the team. I love that, so I’m looking forward to the season."

And Anunike already has a bold prediction for 2013.

"I think we’re going to be even more successful than we were last year," he said. "The mind-set has changed. We’ve got an even higher caliber of player now in the locker room. We have guys coming here to play football now. They see an excellent school, and they see a program on the rise. We’ll have a pretty good season."

Anunike has made it his mission to make sure of it.

"I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing, and that’s leading through example and leading the way for my fellow teammates, especially the younger guys," he said. "They look up to the older guys. Their eyes are going to be on me. We have to take this team to an even greater height. If we slack off, they slack off, and I know I’m not going to slack off. This is my last year. This is it."