<
>

Assistants in the spotlight: Duke

Our series looking at assistants taking on new roles continues, as we check in on Duke.

Assistant in the spotlight: Jim Collins

Title: assistant defensive coordinator, outside linebackers and defensive ends

Why he's in the spotlight: Collins has been on staff since 2008, but this season he adds defensive ends coach to his title after former defensive line coach Rick Petri left in January. The reason coach David Cutcliffe put Collins in that spot is twofold: the Blue Devils not only have several converted linebackers now playing end, they also hope to use their current linebackers more as rush ends. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles told David Hale back in February they want to use a healthy Kelby Brown as an edge rusher, in the mold of what Scooby Wright III does for Arizona. Brown's brother, Kyler, is a former linebacker now slated to start at one defensive end spot. Britton Grier, another converted linebacker, is projected to start on the other side though his playing experience is limited. Grier only has three career tackles in 249 total snaps. Deion Williams, another hybrid linebacker/end, Allen Jackson and early enrollee Marquies Price are going to be relied on to contribute as well. Duke does have some seniors here, but defensive end remains perhaps the most unproven part of the defense. Its three best ends from 2014 are gone. Only Kyler Brown has played extensively as a reserve. With a strong secondary and Kelby Brown back to anchor the linebackers, all eyes will be on the ends to see just how consistent and productive they can be on a line that needs to hold its own. Cutcliffe said recently he likes the mix he has of veterans and youth at end. What he needs to see is consistency. Collins has had a lot of success grooming linebackers at Duke. If he can do the same with the ends, the Blue Devils won't have as many worries.