Next season is pretty far down the line, but, at least for now, Daniel Jones’ job is safe.
In Tuesday’s weekly press conference, coach David Cutcliffe said the redshirt freshman will be Duke’s returning starting quarterback, despite the NCAA granting Thomas Sirk an extension of eligibility. Sirk will be able to participate in the 2017 season, but it’ll be behind Jones, who has, through 11 games leading up to Saturday’s regular-season finale at Miami, established or tied nine Duke single-season rookie records, including 2,520 passing yards.
Cutcliffe said when Sirk, a redshirt senior captain who suffered a season-ending left Achilles tear in practice on Aug. 25, found out the news Sunday, the two quarterbacks met and Jones couldn’t be more thrilled for the guy he replaced this season.
“He knows Daniel Jones is our nreturning starter. He knows there are no guarantees going in, and to make any massive prediction would be a mistake,” Cutcliffe said of Sirk, who first ruptured his left Achilles in February. The reinjury about three months ago led him to being sidelined this year. He also missed the 2013 season after rupturing his right Achilles in April of that year.
“That’s a long-term injury,” Cutcliffe said. “I wanted (Thomas) to understand that I couldn’t make any guarantees to him if he’d play if he was granted. I can’t project his health, so I really believe in being truthful.”
Sirk will not likely be ready for spring practice.
Sirk, a Glen St. Mary, Fla., native, played in 24 career games with 12 starts before his injury this summer. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback has completed 261 of 441 passes for 2,692 yards and 19 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He’s rushed for 1,041 yards on 210 tries with 16 rushing touchdowns. Sirk has accounted for 3,733 total yards for Duke, including six 300-yard games.
“I am so grateful to have a sixth year to continue my dream of playing football and, academically, work towards another degree from Duke University,” Sirk said in a release.
He has not consider transferring, according to Cutcliffe during Tuesday’s conference.
During Sirk’s recovery this season, he’s been a useful tool to the 6-5, 210-pound Jones in the film room and on the sideline. The freshman has thrown one interception and seven touchdowns since being picked off five times against Virginia on Oct. 1, indicating his growth.
He’ll wrap up his regular-season debut when Duke (4-7, 1-6 ACC) meets Miami (7-4, 4-3) at Hard Rock Stadium Saturday.
Jones, from Charlotte, is averaging 291.86 total yards in ACC play, the top among the league’s rookies. He became the ninth in Duke history to record more than 500 offensive plays in a season with 507 after the Blue Devils fell, 56-14, to Pitt last week. Sirk set the record last year with 590.
“He’s been extremely helpful to me being the more experienced guy,” said Jones, who leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns. “I’m certainly very appreciative of it. As far as what next year’s going to look like, I really haven’t thought about it a whole lot. I’m excited as a teammate and a friend. He’s a great guy to have around. I know this week, we’re focused on Miami, you know, next year is a ways away.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Duke at Miami
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.