After a lackluster 2-9 season, which featured more negatives than positives and one total ACC win, there are still uncertainties about a Blue Devil football team that at times last year looked like they had given up before halftime. The inconsistency at quarterback and too many mental lapses (on both sides of the ball) hurt Duke, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that light starts at tailback for the Blue Devils. South Carolina native and senior Mataeo Durant has already received several preseason accolades, including the prestigious Maxwell Award given to the overall top player in the country.
Leading the team in rushing a season ago with 817 rushing yards (top 15 in team history for a single season), Durant is not only ready for an increased workload, but grateful for coaches who showed patience. “I wanted to thank the coaches for not throwing me into a situation that I probably thought I was ready for but they knew I wasn’t ready for.”
Last year, due to the pandemic, players were robbed of a complete off-season program, which includes weight training, team film study and spring practices. The Blue Devils struggled mightily.
During ACC Kickoff Mataeo discussed Duke’s added depth this season, in addition to his growth as a team leader and mentoring the youth in his fellow back field.
“I just been able to get in prehab and rehab, make sure everything is great. Also get the younger players ready who are under me. You never know what’s going to happen. Preparation is always key. Me and the younger players will go out, do a lot of individual drills, a lot of things we need to work on prior to the season. That also help build the depth in the backfield, which we have.”
Durant is a special player. Imagine sharing workload duties, coming off the bench and still lead the team in rushing yards. He can explode in the open field, has the agility and ability to turn on a second gear and the pass-catching abilities needed on hot reads. The time is now for Mataeo, which is also includes competing for ACC Player of Year. If the senior can get some consistency from first year starter Gunnar Holmberg, expect the Blue Devils to contend for the regular season Coastal ACC title.
“For the upcoming season, I’m just focused on winning as a team. The individual things come, but the most important thing is winning.”
The Blue Devils open up their season September 3rd, 7:00 P.M. against the Charlotte 49ers.