Duke football returner Damond Philyaw-Johnson named as All-American

Damond Philyaw-Johnson of the Duke football team runs a kickoff back. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Damond Philyaw-Johnson of the Duke football team runs a kickoff back. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Duke football kick returner Damond Philyaw-Johnson was named as a Second Team Preseason All-American by Sporting News.

The expectations are now squarely on the shoulders of Duke kick returner Damond Philyaw-Johnson as he enters his third season with the Blue Devils.

Following a selection to the All-ACC Second Team after his sophomore season, Philyaw-Johnson was named as a Fourth Team All-American, according to college football writer Phil Steele, but that was upstaged as the Pensacola, Florida native was named as a Sporting News Second Team All-American.

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Philyaw-Johnson burst onto the scene last year as a kick returner for the Blue Devils, bringing back 17 kicks for a total of 549 yards and two touchdowns.

Both of the 6-foot-1 speedster’s touchdowns came in the same game in a loss to Wake Forest.

In that game, Philyaw-Johnson returned five kicks for 251 yards and those two scores.

In addition to the game against Wake, Philyaw-Johnson also brought back five kicks in a loss against Notre Dame where he totaled 122 yards.

It was not until midway through the season when David Cutcliffe put Philyaw-Johnson back to return kicks as the sophomore’s first game returning kickoffs was in Week Five against Virginia.

Damond Philyaw-Johnson averaged 32.3 yards per return last season.

Jaylen Waddle of the Alabama Crimson Tide was named as the First Team All-American kick returner, according to Sporting News.

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Philyaw-Johnson could also be looking at an increase in production at receiver as he only caught two passes for 31 yards last season.

Duke is coming off a disappointing season in which the Blue Devils finished 5-7 after beginning the season at 4-2 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2016 and just the second time since 2011.

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With a remade offense led by Clemson transfer quarterback Chase Brice, the Blue Devils will be looking to return to the postseason as the season is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, September 5 at Wallace Wade Stadium against Middle Tennessee State.

Details on the game have not yet been provided as Duke football players have yet to return to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic.