Duke Blue Devils head football coach David Cutcliffe got his first college coaching job at the University of Tennessee in 1982. The now 62-year-old joined The Jim Rome Show Tuesday on CBS Sports Radio and shared his insight on how much the recruiting game has changed for the worse since taking that job as a Volunteers assistant 35 years ago.
“It’s completely different because of the internet, social media, recruiting services, the awareness, that we start way too early, which I think is not healthy for young people. It’s not even healthy for parents who haven’t been through this before,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m a little frightened by the trend of legislation, because these are people that really aren’t living it day to day. It’s drastically changed.
“We see in a lot of sports they’re trying to go back the other way in some of the Olympic sports. They have found that they are committing people as 9th and 10th graders. The other day, I had another sport here that asked me to talk to one of their prospects, their top prospects, and the youngster 2021 graduate. I couldn’t even do the math on that one for a minute, you know, what grade? It’s young people’s lives. These are big time decisions. And what I would tell them is the same thing I’d tell any coach, you need to find places that fit the value system that you have. You need to find places that really fulfill your personality and your purpose. It’s a serious decision, and I hate all of these early, early, early commitments to be honest with you.”
Every off-season Cutcliffe works out his former Ole Miss and current New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning along with his skill position teammates. The 2013 Maxwell Coach of The Year award winner talked about how the workout comes together each off-season, and how his former signal caller looked.
“Before he comes in for about a week I watch a bunch of their tape very closely,” Cutcliffe said. “I make cut-ups, and he and I sit down with that, and then I ask him what he wants to accomplish with his receivers. We go through all those guys, backs, tight ends, what we have to do to make it better -timing, trust, communication between the two – to where they can throw the ball and he can know exactly what to expect. That’s a big thing in our world that we’ve done for 30 years in the passing game, it’s an interesting sport. Receivers and quarterbacks do communicate, but it’s completely nonverbal. It’s all body language and even really kind of the mentality, a mental clock. I love it, because it’s the pure parts of coaching. I get to do that for a week with them.
“And by the way, he’s healthy, or at least he was then. He’s had to battle some things that he privately keeps quiet, but he’s healthy, he looked tremendous, and I thought those guys worked with a hunger. And I’ve checked with him via text, we’re both in camp, but he feels like that attitude has stayed there with them. He’s excited about the way they’re going about their work and that’s good to hear.”
Manning has already won two Super Bowl rings and is quickly approaching 50,000 career yards in the NFL, but Cutcliffe says the 36-year-old is still hungry to prove more.
“You never get satisfied. He loves to compete, and if you’re a true competitor, you want to be your best,” Cutcliffe said. “I pray he stays healthy. He’s throwing the ball better right now. His strength, his quickness, his hand quickness, all of those things that we worked on just absolutely on fire right now. I was really happy for him when he was in there, and I just pray he can be protected and stay healthy and it all works out. He’s got some good players around him in that skill position. I don’t know a lot about their line, but they have some people right now.”