Duke CB Josh Blackwell: We're Confident Against Anybody We Play


Duke cornerback Josh Blackwell and Leonard Johnson have developed into solid starters for Duke in the secondary. Now, the Blue Devils will add a former All-ACC corner to the mix, as Mark Gilbert returns from an injury that has kept him out the last two seasons.

“It means a lot,” Blackwell said of getting Gilbert back. “Not having him on the field for two years has been detrimental, but it’s made people like me and Leonard Johnson that much better, being leaders when he’s away. Now that we have him back, we have us and then him on top of that to bring back that spark we needed on the field. Even off the field the past two seasons, he’s been huge for us mentally, just teaching us the ropes really to get to where we need to be with (former defensive backs) Coach (Derek) Jones and now Coach (Chris) Hampton, he’s been a huge, huge part of our success here, on and off the field.”

Needless to say, Duke’s secondary is now a group with plenty of self-confidence.

“We’re confident,” he said. “We’re really confident, especially because all of us were starters or big role players last year. We’re confident against anybody we play. As long as we play our brand of football, we have no worries.”

The secondary also gets a boost from a pass rush that looks promising.

“My past four years, the defensive line has been huge part of our success in the back end,” Blackwell said. “They’ve come together very well the past couple seasons. They’re grown together and figured out ways to rush the passer successfully. That helped us out in the back end.”