Injuries at Duke initiate position adjustments
DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils football team announced on Tuesday that redshirt junior running back Jela Duncan will be out indefinitely after suffering a partially torn right pectoral muscle during morning practice on Monday.
Head coach David Cutcliffe noted that two other running backs – redshirt sophomore Joseph Ajeigbe and sophomore Shaun Wilson – were also nursing lower body injuries and sidelined from contact drills.
“Just when you feel comfortable with four experienced running backs on the depth chart, three of them are in the training room,” Cutcliffe said.
“Jela’s injury is obviously disappointing because we know how hard he’s worked to get back into the thick of things following the two shoulder surgeries. Joe and Shaun aren’t available right now, but neither appears to be out long term.”
Additional roster adjustments at camp included moving redshirt freshman quarterback Nicodem Pierre to running back.
“I’m really proud of Nico and how he’s handled this situation,” Cutcliffe said.
“With his unselfishness and commitment to this program, he is displaying the traits of the ultimate teammate. And I absolutely love it because it’s a great sign of the growth of our program when the young men take ownership of the organization and have the passion to contribute in any way possible.”
Duncan rushed 222 times for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns as a two-year letterman in 2012-13 before missing the 2014 campaign.
As reserves in 2014, Ajeigbe had 41 rushing attempts for 150 yards and Wilson totaled 78 carries for 598 yards.
Pierre, who entered the fall as the third string signal-caller behind redshirt junior Thomas Sirk and redshirt sophomore Parker Boehme, did not see game action last season while serving as the primary scout team quarterback.
Additionally, junior cornerback Bryon Fields, who started all 13 games a season ago while posting 70 tackles and one interception, will miss extended time during preseason camp due to a leg injury.
Sophomore Alonzo Saxton II, who appeared in eight games in 2014 and registered 12 tackles, has been the primary replacement for Fields with the first unit.
“Injuries create opportunities for others,” Cutcliffe noted.
“While it is never easy to replace a starter, we’re certainly confident in the depth we’ve established. The bottom line is that our young guys have to be ready for the challenge when their number is called.”
The Blue Devils open the 2015 season at Tulane on Sept. 3.
Tar Heels’ Simmons suspended for two games
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina Tar Heels senior cornerback Malik Simmons was suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season following the adjudication of two misdemeanor court cases in Orange County last Thursday.
“Malik’s actions did not meet the standards of the Carolina football program and he will serve a significant penalty as a result,” head coach Larry Fedora said.
“I’m confident he will learn from it and we can put these issues in the past.”
Simmons will continue to practice with the team and will be eligible to play in his first game against Illinois on Sept. 19.