CHAPEL HILL Here’s a thought to ponder: Could Daniel Jones be Duke’s Philip Rivers?
There are similarities, and it goes beyond that number on the jersey — No. 17 — and that they’re both 6-5 and 225 pounds.
Both had quarterback gurus to coach them as college freshmen, which is invaluable if they’re going to be asked to be a starting quarterback in the ACC.
Rivers came to N.C. State in 2000 and immediately fell under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Norm Chow, a quarterback Svengali. Chow’s former pupils included BYU’s Steve Young and Ty Detmer, and he later had Carson Palmer when he was the offensive coordinator at Southern Cal. Rivers only had Chow for a year, but it was an important year in his development.
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Jones has Duke coach David Cutcliffe. Mention Cutcliffe and you think of Peyton and Eli Manning. He has long been their mentor and few coaches know more about in intricacies of quarterback play than Coach Cut.
As freshmen, both Rivers and Jones beat their schools’ top rival — North Carolina. That always endears you to the fan base.
In 2000, in a memorable game, Rivers ran for a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass and also caught a touchdown pass in a 38-20 win at Kenan Stadium. A year ago, Jones accounting for three touchdowns, passing for one and running for two, in a 28-27 victory.
Rivers never missed a start at N.C. State, playing 51 consecutive games. He was named the 2003 ACC player of the year and took the Pack to an 11-win season in 2002 and four straight bowls.
Jones also has proven his durability at Duke. His game Saturday at North Carolina is his 16th straight.
Jones won’t go to four bowls — Duke was 4-8 last year. He may have the potential to be ACC player of the year and could carry the Blue Devils to some big seasons. A lot of Duke’s football future may ride with him.
Both are studious types, preparing well for games. Both make good decisions in the pocket, although Jones, like Rivers at NCSU, tends to hang on to the ball too long at times under pressure, trying to make a play.
There are some differences. Rivers is a more accurate passer, even with the sidearm sling, and Jones a better runner.
Then there’s the NFL. We all know what Rivers has done. It’s up to Jones to prove he deserves to make that leap, that the similarities with Rivers don’t end after college football.