The idea that a Duke football player would be in contention for a national award would seem ridiculous not even 10 years ago. But head coach David Cutcliffe has steadily built the program back up to respectability and now possesses a budding star at quarterback going into the 2017 season.

Redshirt sophomore Daniel Jones was not expected to see much action last year as fifth year senior Thomas Sirk seemed entrenched behind center. However, Jones impressed so much in spring practice that he beat out Sirk for the starting spot and led the Blue Devils into the season.

The Charlotte, NC. native put up huge numbers in charge of an inconsistent Duke offense. He threw for almost 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for almost 500 yards and seven touchdowns as well. He will be one of only two returning quarterbacks in the ACC to have amassed over 2,500 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, 450 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. The other? Reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.

Jones was an honorable mention Freshman All-American and was instrumental to the Blue Devils’ upset wins over both Notre Dame and North Carolina. At seasons end, he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, showing his value.

It is due to accomplishments like this that Jones was recently named to the Maxwell Award watch list. The Maxwell Award is given out at the end of each season to the top player in the country. The watch list is wide ranging and includes close to a hundred names so it is not an exclusive club. However, it is still a big honor for Jones to get this kind of national recognition.

The sophomore is the unquestioned leader of the Duke football program and is primed for another big year behind the controls of the offense. It is extremely unlikely that he will end up with the Maxwell at the end of the year, but him even being in contention is a big step forward for the Blue Devils.

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