The NCAA granted a sixth year of eligibility to Duke linebacker Kelby Brown and tight end Braxton Deaver, clearing the way for both to return to the team in 2015.
Brown and Deaver—both all-ACC selections a year ago—had their seasons end this year before they even began. The two players, who both have struggled with injures throughout their careers, tore ACLs in the preseason.
According to a press release from the school, both Brown and Deaver had to take time to make sure they were even interested in coming back for a sixth year. In Brown’s case, he said his initial reaction was not to return, but that changed after Duke’s first open date on Oct. 4.
"I took a couple of weeks, probably a month, for some time to heal," Brown said. "My inclination was to not play again. I spent a lot of time with Braxton and we helped each other through the process. Coach Cutcliffe was amazing throughout the entire time; he helped me find joy in the decision. He didn’t pressure me either way. He just gave me practical advice. It is the right decision."
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Brown has torn an ACL three times during his Duke career. He had surgeries on his right knee in December of 2010 and February of 2012, and the latter caused him to miss the 2012 campaign. He tore his left one during Duke’s first preseason scrimmage this August.
Last year, the first full year he was healthy, Brown was Duke’s best defender and a first-team all-ACC selection.
Deaver also missed the 2012 season with a variety of injuries—a torn left ACL in January of that year, a left thumb fracture in June and a broken left kneecap in July. He was a healthy redshirt in 2010, his true freshman year, so this season is the third full season he has missed. Deaver tore his right ACL a week after Brown tore his.
"I was pretty unsure about (the decision) when I got injured," Deaver said in the statement. "Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t really there; it was something I really had to think about. As I started to recover, I became more clear-headed about the whole situation, and after looking at my options, it was a no-brainer."
Both will play key roles for Duke in 2015.