Handful of Duke football stars named to preseason positional watch lists

Duke football star running back Deon Jackson sprints towards the end zone. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke football star running back Deon Jackson sprints towards the end zone. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

A handful of Duke football players were named to their respective preseason positional watch lists as the Blue Devils look to get back to the postseason.

The end of the 2019 season was not one to remember for the Duke Blue Devils, but David Cutcliffe is returning a handful of players that look poised to get the program back to the postseason in 2020.

Clearly the college football season will be impacted in some ways by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but preseason awards watch lists have been released anyway as players return to their respective campuses for training camp.

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Leading the way for the Blue Devils were running back Deon Jackson and defensive end Victor Dimukeje, who were both named to two preseason watch lists.

Jackson, named to Doak Walker and Paul Hornung Award Preseason Watch Lists, rushed for 641 yards last season and had 192 receiving yards with eight total touchdowns.

The Doak Walker Award is presented to the nation’s top running back while the Paul Hornung Award is given to the most versatile player in the country by The Louisville Sports Commission.

Victor Dimukeje was named to the Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch Lists.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in the country while the Bednarik Award is presented to the most outstanding defensive player in college football by the Maxwell Football Club.

Dimukeje’s teammate, Chris Rumph II, was also named to the Bednarik Award Watch List.

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Victor Dimukeje totaled 41 tackles plus eight and a half sacks last season while Rumph II posted 47 tackles and six and a half sacks.

Tight end Noah Gray was named to the John Mackey Award Watch List, which is an award given to the best tight end in college football at the conclusion of the season.

Gray set career highs all last season with 12 games played, 51 receptions, 392 receiving yards, and three touchdowns as he has been named to this watch list for the second consecutive season.

Duke center Jack Wohlabaugh was named to the preseason Outland Trophy Watch List, which is given to the most outstanding interior lineman by the Football Writers Association of America.

Wohlabaugh, a transfer from Ohio State, was an All-ACC honorable mention in 2019 and is looking to take the next step in his career as a senior.

Lastly, offensive guard Rakavius Chambers was named to the preseason watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy.

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The Wuerffel Trophy is the top award in the sport for community service that highlights players who help others outside the white lines and in their home community as well as their school’s community.

Chambers has worked with Durham Habitat for Humanity and at a local food bank in his home state of Alabama to try and help in the fight against COVID-19.

These six players are certainly the core for the 2020 Blue Devils and will look to help Duke get back to the postseason after a disappointing 5-7 campaign a year ago.