Sophomore wide receiver Jamison Crowder had a breakout season in 2012 with 70 receptions for a team-leading 1,025 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Crowder, who hails from Monroe, N.C., also broke an ACC record with a 99-yard touchdown reception in the regular season finale against Miami. He will lead Duke into the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 27 where the Blue Devils will face Cincinnati.
GoDuke.com: What was your reaction on finding out the
team would be playing Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl Dec. 27 in Charlotte?
Jamison Crowder: It was a great thing. Since I'm from
the Charlotte area, being able to go home and play in a bowl in front of my
friends and family -- it's going to be a great experience. Our first bowl game
and being at home, I couldn't be in a better situation.
GoDuke.com: Being from the Charlotte area, do you have
friends or family that will be in attendance at the game?
JC: I do. I've had a lot of friends and family ask me
about tickets here recently. I believe we only get like six tickets, so it's
going to be tough trying to find a way for my friends and family to come. Some
of them, I have to guarantee.
GoDuke.com: How will this season and participating in the
Belk Bowl add to the Duke brand?
JC: It puts us out there. As a recruit, you want to
see teams that are getting exposure and winning ball games. Even now with our
new uniforms, just seeing stuff like that, it kind of fascinates high
schoolers. From that aspect, we're bringing a lot of attention to our school
and our program. And getting players can only make us better.
GoDuke.com: What are you most looking forward to about
the whole Belk Bowl experience?
JC: I hear we get a shopping spree, so I'm looking
forward to buying some clothes [laughs], and just the game itself - playing in the
Panthers' Stadium. It's a stadium I'm familiar with. I've been to a lot of
games, and just being able to play on the field, I'm probably going to have to
settle myself down. I'm going to be so hyped up about it.
GoDuke.com: In the future, what will it mean to you to be
able to say you were part of a team that earned a berth in a bowl game?
JC: It means a lot because it's been a while since we
had a bowl team here at Duke. After I leave, being able to say I was a part of
that team that went to the bowl game 18 years after the last one, that's a
great accomplishment as a team and as an individual. It'll be great to look
back and reflect on this year and being able to go to a bowl. But I've got two
more years, so hopefully these next few years we can continue to progress and
go to another bowl.
GoDuke.com: Given all the ups and downs of this season,
how has it felt to be a part of this team and to cap the win over North
Carolina with the winning touchdown?
JC: It's a great feeling, being a part of a team
that's always successful. Even though towards the end of the season we didn't
finish out as strong as we wanted to, we had a good first half of the season
and we know that we have great ball players. Hopefully we can end the season
with a win in the bowl game. But it's been great going out there practicing
with the team and growing as a team, even through all the trials and
tribulations we went through this year. It's been a real fun experience.
GoDuke.com: In what ways has the Duke coaching staff --
and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick in particular -- helped you develop in your
JC: Coach Lubick, he's helped me develop on the field
as far as route running and recognizing the importance of route running and
different aspects of the game. In high school, you're just kind of out there,
happy-go-lucky. But once you come to college, everything is a little more
structured and the competition is a lot better. So just being able to pay
attention to detail from defenders, just staying in the game -- he's helped me
out a lot with that. Coach Cutcliffe -- he's a great influence. Every time he
speaks about something, he's pretty much always right. A lot of things he's
saying, I can relate to. So the coaches have a lot of influence on me and the
team as well.
GoDuke.com: As you approach the end of your second season
at Duke, how do you think you've grown from the player you were when you got to
JC: I think the most important aspect I've grown in
is my confidence. Especially coming to college, you don't really know what to
expect on the field and off the field. As far as on the field, the competition
gets better than high school. I've gained a lot of confidence this year - just
going out there and feeling comfortable in my position and playing my role.
GoDuke.com: As a returning player next year, how
important is it to simultaneously treat the Belk Bowl game as the start of the
JC: It's the last game of 2012 but also the first
game of 2013. It's going to be a statement of how we'll be going into next
year. I think that's the way a lot of us are approaching it, from the young
guys to everybody. We just want to go out there and end the season right. But
at the same time, have a good look at what we're going to have coming back next
GoDuke.com: What have you learned from the leadership of
this year's senior class?
JC: I've learned that hard work will pay off. For the
seniors, it's been four or five years of not being able to go to a bowl game
and enjoy the different activities that come with a bowl game. But they worked
hard in the offseason and they made sure that us young guys were in shape. They
were teammates to look up to.
JC: Just seeing their work ethic and knowing that
when you work with those two guys, it's pretty much strictly business; no
playing around. Me personally, I like to joke a little bit. But when you're
working with them, you've got to be serious and locked in and focused on what's
GoDuke.com: With Vernon set to graduate, do you feel as
though you'll be expected to step up as a leader of the wide receiver group
JC: Most definitely. I think I'm going to have to
step up because we'll have some younger receivers. Even though I'm still young
and I'm still learning, we'll have some younger receivers coming in next year.
Max McCaffrey, Nick Hill and Anthony Nash are just a few of them. As far as me
getting good experience this year, I'm going to have to lead and kind of help
them with certain situations. I've been thinking about that - I'm going to have
to step up my leadership role. I'm not much of a vocal leader - I like to lead
by example. But I'm going to have to step my game up next year and make sure
everything is right as far as the receiver corps.
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