Derrick Tangelo, Deon Jackson on Duke's First Day in Pads


Duke’s football team hit a preseason milestone on Friday when the team held its first practice in pads. That means going full out and hitting each other.

“It was amazing,” senior defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo said. “Just getting that physicality back, bringing it to another whole level. We’ve been inching it toward full pads as we’ve been preparing, so to finally let it happen, it was amazing.”

Senior running back Deon Jackson was on the other side of the hits, but he was just as excited about moving to pads.

“It definitely felt good to get the pads back on,” he said. “Just being able to go full speed, to take everything we’ve been working on and put it all together. We got a little taste of the action today. Hopefully, tomorrow, we get after it little bit more.”

Tangelo, who plays in the trenches, probably saw the biggest difference between practicing without pads and full-on hitting, since he had to battle offensive linemen on every play.

“Everybody is going to push each other,” he said. “It’s a competition to see who wins the day. Everybody’s just making sure that their side wins the day.”

Jackson’s preseason workload is a little heavier, since he’s splitting time between three different quarterbacks, tripling the amount of time he needs to spend getting familiar with each player’s style.

“The main thing for me is just trying to get timing and chemistry with all three quarterbacks,” he said. “I’m impressed with how all of the quarterbacks have been during the little quarterback battle we’ve been having. It’s nice to watch them working. You can tell they’re all getting better.”

The full-pad workout wrapped up a successful first week of practice for Duke.

“It was nerve wracking with the pandemic going on,” Tangelo said. “We didn’t really know what it was going to be like. We ve been following the right instructions. It’s definitely been exciting for everybody to be back with each other, practicing, working hard, going against each other. We had a good week building off something every day. We’ve been focusing more on conditioning, trying to get ourselves in the best shape possible.”

“Honestly, I think we’ve had a great first week of practice,” Jackson said. “Our chemistry is definitely further along than I thought it would have been, just because we have so many new pieces. We’re pretty ahead of schedule, I think. I feel like we’re going to do good this year.”