Duke football's leading rusher Duncan suspended through 2014

lkeeley@newsobserver.comDecember 21, 2013 

Duke Virgina Football

Duke running back Jela Duncan rushes for a gain as he is dragged down by Virginia cornerback Maurice Canady and safety Anthony Harris during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Charlottesville, Va.

RYAN M. KELLY — AP//The Daily Progress

  • Chick-Fil-A Bowl

    Duke vs. Texas A&M

    8 p.m. Dec. 31 (ESPN)

— Duke’s leading rusher, sophomore Jela Duncan, has been suspended for a year due to a violation of university academic policy, the school announced Saturday. He will miss the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A bowl and the 2014 season. He is eligible to return for the spring 2015 semester.

Duncan, a Charlotte native, led the No. 22 Blue Devils (10-3) with 562 rushing yards on 113 attempts. He was part of a multiple-back rotation for Duke, as junior Josh Snead recorded 547 yards on 90 attempts (an average of 6.1 yards per carry, compared to Duncan’s 5.0) and sophomore Shaquille Powell ran for 337 yards with 60 carries (5.6 yards per carry). Senior Juwan Thompson, who has also worked at linebacker this year, ran the ball 53 times for 256 yards.

Snead and Powell will see their workloads increase for the bowl game against No. 20 Texas A&M (8-4) and next year. Duncan was Duke’s most powerful runner between the tackles, and Powell is better suited to fill that role, with Snead serving more as a speed back that excels on the edge. Thompson, a senior, is expected to work exclusively at running back for the remainder of Duke’s bowl practices.

Looking toward next year, the coaching staff is also excited about Joseph Ajeigbe, a 5-9, 215-pound running back who redshirted this season. He was originally a three-star recruit from Riverside, Calif. The 2014 recruiting class includes a three-star running back recruit, Shaun Wilson, from Charlotte West Mecklenburg High. Running back is one of the deepest positions on the Blue Devils’ roster.

Duncan will not lose a year of eligibility next year, as he can redshirt. He will not be at Duke, taking classes or practicing, as his suspension is academic in nature.

Duke sports information director Art Chase said the team would have no comment beyond the announcement of Duncan’s suspension.

Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter: @laurakeeley

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