PINEHURST – Those three letters can wait – both sets, actually. The NFL isn’t going anywhere and neither is the FBI.
Jeremy Cash has both of those on his future to do list, but for the time being, he just wants to focus on being a Duke University football player one last time.
Sporting black framed glasses and a bushy goatee that made the 6-2, 210 safety resemble Malcolm X, Cash is back for one last ride in Durham. A ride that started in 2012 when he transferred to Duke from Ohio State University. Even after he watched the Buckeyes hoist the National Championship trophy last January, Cash has no regrets.
“I personally believe the best thing happened for me, and that was coming to Duke,” Cash said Monday at the ACC Kickoff. “It was part of the ultimate plan; part of God’s plan to end up here. I’ve have nothing but tremendous success here.”
Cash is one of five NCAA players with multiple 100-plus tackle seasons. He finished with 121 stops in 2013 and 111 last year. His ended his junior season an All-ACC first-team selection and an All-American. On course for his degree in psychology (which he earned in May), Cash could have left Duke early and entered the NFL Draft.
However, in January he threw a twist in those plans. Cash held a press conference on campus and announced he was returning to Durham for one final campaign. After the season ended, it was almost a foregone conclusion Cash had played his final game for the Blue Devils. Little did fans know, he was going back and forth on what do next.
“There was some debate on if I would leave. At one point I was out the door. My family actually got me luggage for Christmas and my birthday. But when it came down to it, we figured that education was so important,” Cash said. “Education would take me further in life than football would. Therefore I decided to come back and get that extra degree, all paid for by Duke. I’m only three classes away from getting my Masters Degree.”
Cash is pursuing a graduate degree in liberal studies. When his playing days are over, he wants to work for the FBI. He says he is already a nice shot (handgun or shotgun) and can already envision his role with the agency one day.
“I want to be that guy who says ‘target in sight, fire when ready.’”
For a few more years, the only target Cash will be firing on is opposing ball carriers, something he has mastered.
In 27 career starts at Duke, the Miami, Fla. native has record 232 tackles. Ten times he has recorded double digit stops including a personal-high 14 against Georgia Tech and Troy last season. The Duke secondary returns all four starters and Cash says the unit has the potential to be the best in the nation, despite what the so-called experts think.
“I don’t feel like they (the rest of the secondary) have gotten the recognition they deserve for the resume they’ve put together.”
Despite his resume, there is one thing Cash would like to accomplish before he leaves Duke.
“The only stat I’m missing in my career is a pick-six.,” he said. “One of those wouldn’t hurt.”
It certainly won’t hurt that Cash decided to return. He will be surrounded by veterans in the secondary, but there are still new faces on campus. Duke, after all, is a very young team, with 52 true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores and redshirt sophomores on the roster. Some will play, some won’t, but Cash feels he has a duty to lead them all in the right direction.
“I think most importantly since it is my last season, it’s my job to help bring some of these younger players along. I won’t get an opportunity to play again. They will,” Cash said. “Coach Cut always talks about leaving the place better than you found it. So my mission now, as I am leaving, is being more of a serving leader, helping all those guys in any way I can.”
It sounds like Cash always has a plan. Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel suggested Cash transfer to Duke, thanks in large part to Tressel’s relationship with Blue Devils’ head coach David Cutcliffe. From there, Cash has carefully thought out his next step and beyond.
“At one point I wrote down the pros and cons – if I should leave or if I should stay. The one thing that trumped everything was education and the power of it. Life is this long (stretches out arms), football is this much of it (closes hands together),” Cash said. “At some point people have to realize football is going to end one day. Then what are you going to do? I didn’t want to sit there like a deer in the headlights. Me personally, I’ll have a plan once I’m done playing football.”