Productive veteran running back joins Duke football via transfer portal

Former New Mexico State running back Star Thomas has joined the Duke footall program via the transfer portal.
New Mexico State v Hawai'i
New Mexico State v Hawai'i / Darryl Oumi/GettyImages

Wednesday, the Duke football program added some much-needed experience to the backfield in the form of New Mexico State transfer running back Star Thomas. It is a nice move for a program needing extra help at the position.

The 6-foot, 225-pound native of Louisiana was a 2023 second-team All-Conference USA selection. In 15 games he rushed for a career-high 653 yards to go along with four touchdowns. He was the Aggies' second-leading rusher behind quarterback Diego Pavia.

Thomas began his career at the JUCO level. In 2021 he saw action in six games for Coffeyville C.C. in Kansas.

Joining NM State in 2022, he appeared in all 13 games gaining 518 yards on the ground and scoring eight times. What's more, he led the Aggies in all-purpose yards with 669.

Thomas will add some much-needed experience in the backfield for the Blue Devils in 2024. With the team's leading returning rusher, Jaquez Moore being the only upperclassman on the roster at running back, there was a need for another horse to pair with him to carry the ground game.

Last season, Duke was 56th nationally in rushing yards per game. Averaging 167.2 yards per game on the ground, the Blue Devils ranked 9th in the ACC.

However, two of the top three rushers from last year are no longer with the program. Leading rusher Jordan Waters, who put up 819 yards and 12 TDs on the ground is now playing for rival NC State and QB Riley Leonard, who ran for 352 yards and four TDs has transferred to Notre Dame.

That left Moore as the only proven commodity at running back for Duke until Thomas committed. Now, the Blue Devils have a capable runner to pair with their incumbent starter.

Last season, Thomas' best effort was a 96-yard effort against Western Illinois. That day he carried the ball only 12 times but averaged eight yards per carry while finding the endzone twice. He also had a nice 88-yard game on 10 carries against Louisiana Tech.

This is the second RB to join the program this week after 2025 high school running back Javin Gordon committed to the Blue Devils days ago. Hopefully, Manny Diaz will be able to stay hot on the recruiting trail as the June visit window is open and players across the nation are making their college decisions.