• 57°

LB Joe Giles-Harris eager to lead Duke back to a bowl game

By Joedy McCreary

AP Sports Writer

DURHAM (AP) — Joe Giles-Harris is proud that he started 12 games as a redshirt freshman at Duke. During his sophomore year, he wants to improve on that number.

Of course, the only way he can make 13 starts is if the Blue Devils qualify for a bowl — something they failed to do in the linebacker’s first season on the field.

Giles-Harris led all Atlantic Coast Conference freshmen with 107 tackles and was second nationally among freshmen with 8.97 stops per game. But those impressive stats felt a bit empty for a program that reached four consecutive bowls before taking a step back in 2016.

“The only number that stood out to me was, I started every game,” Giles-Harris said. “That was the most exciting part. Tackles and tackles for a loss, that really didn’t matter to me. I mean, at the end of the day, we won four games. I wasn’t really proud of it, but I was proud that I was able to play in all 12 games and that was an exciting thing for me, being my first season, I kind of shocked myself at that one.”

Giles-Harris was one of the bright spots in a rough year for a program that had grown accustomed to making the postseason. His tackle average ranked fourth in the league, and he had at least one tackle for a loss in nine games. Duke finished 4-8 for its first losing record since 2012, and missed a bowl for the first time since 2011.

“After last season, everybody’s taking a different mindset this year,” he said. “Everybody’s working a lot harder in the weight room and a lot harder out on the field, and it’s been exciting.”

The focus has been on quickness and fundamentals, he said.

“Getting back to doing things the right way,” he said. “There’s a lot of times you can kind of shortcut things because you can out-athletic somebody, but just getting back to looking at the right thing, watching film more in depth, and just being able to be a faster thinker on the field, things like that. Footwork becomes a big part of that. The faster you can move your feet, the faster you’re able to get away from people and make plays.”

Giles-Harris and middle linebacker Ben Humphreys figure to be among the leaders of the Duke defense this year. The roommates who both arrived in Durham in 2015 are the only pair of linebackers on the same team that each had at least 100 tackles and nine tackles for a loss last season.

“We just definitely keep getting closer and closer — I could tell you a lot more about Ben than you think I would know,” Giles-Harris said with a laugh. “It’s just something that’s helped us. I trust him on and off the field, and it shows on the field. … It’s something we’re fortunate to develop, and it’s helped on the field because we know how each other thinks. We know when one person does this, how the next person should react. … He’s probably one of my best friends and it’s exciting to play with and live with somebody like that.”

___

More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org/salisburypost/

http://collegefootball.ap.org/salisburypost/poll/

Comments

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs

Columns

Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers

Business

Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class

Sports

Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow

Nation/World

States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

Nation/World

Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack

News

NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting

Coronavirus

People receiving first dose of COVID-19 vaccine grows by less than 1%

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools brings Skills Rowan competition back to its roots

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time