In a not surprising but still disappointing announcement Wednesday morning, the Duke football program announced senior tailback Re'quan Boyette would not return from a knee injury this season.
Boyette, a former Fike High School star and the 2005 Wilson Daily Times Athlete of the Year, underwent surgery on Aug. 9 following an injury suffered in preseason practice. He will have one year of eligibility remaining.
Boyette was named one of four captains for the Blue Devils. He led the team in rushing in both his sophomore and junior seasons and has 1,072 career rushing yards.
"While we are disappointed that Re'quan will not get on the field this season, we are excited about him returning in 2009," Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement. "We are not going to play a young man if he is not ready, and with five games to play, Re'quan is not to the point where he could contribute. What is undeniable is Re'quan's commitment to our program. He has been an outstanding leader for our team."
Former Fike principal Jimmy Tillman told me Monday night at the Golden Demons' game against Northern Nash that Boyette is on pace to graduate in May. But Re'quan can enroll in graduate school at Duke, which would mean another year of free education.
In my four-plus years at the WDT, Boyette has been one of the most outstanding young athletes and men I've been privileged to cover. Here's to a full recovery for him and a chance to come back next season when the expectations for the Blue Devils should be markedly higher than this preseason now that they've already won four games, matching their victory total from the previous four seasons combined.