The 15 Duke basketball stars who could have starred in football

Duke basketball freshmen RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Tre Jones (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball freshmen RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Tre Jones (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball guard Steve Wojciechowski (Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger) /

Duke basketball stars who could’ve starred in football: HONORABLE MENTIONS

STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI (1994-98), scout-team specialist — Like Rudy Ruettiger, Wojciechowski might have managed to walk-on at Notre Dame or Duke, hopping back up in practice time and again with blood dripping off his jersey. Of course, also like the “story” of Rudy, Wojo’s unbridled passion would annoy some to the point of channeling Jamie O’Hara: “It’s the last practice of the season, and this [expletive] thinks it’s the Super Bowl!”

KYRIE IRVING (2010-11), slot receiver — Obviously, Irving would wield the necessary quickness, agility, flexibility, and creativity to go all Wes Welker, regularly finding holes among linebackers and then turning five-yard flings into first downs and touchdowns. That said, considering his susceptibility to toe injuries and whatnot on the hardwood, there’s no telling how many games he’d miss on the gridiron.

BILLY KING (1984-88), outside linebacker — There’s no doubt the 1988 NABC Defensive Player of the Year, who famously shut down Temple’s Mark Macon to help advance Duke to the Final Four, could surely do some damage on the defensive side of the ball in football. Remember, though, King primarily defended guards and wings on the basketball court; in other words, it’s unclear whether he’d have the power to tackle a Jerome Bettis.

ROBERT BRICKEY (1986-90), defensive end — Brickey virtually levitated as a Dukie. That superpower would have made him a problem for quarterbacks when coming off the edge. However, though the 6-foot-5, 210-pound athlete would’ve boasted adequate height, length, spring, and drive to bat down passes as a defensive end, he doesn’t give off quite enough mean vibes to be a star football player.

VERNON CAREY JR. (2019-20), offensive tackle — Yes, his pops started at offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins across seven seasons in the NFL. But Vernon Carey Sr. was 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds in his heyday, whereas Vernon Carey Jr. is a 6-foot-10, 270-pound towering giant who might have trouble keeping his tower from toppling over when trying to block shoulder-popping, helmet-smacking defensive lineman and linebackers.