Riley Leonard and Duke football pulled off one of the biggest upsets in program history by beating Clemson in its 2023 college football season-opener on Monday. The Blue Devils hosted the Tigers in front of a raucous student-led crowd in Durham and took down the visitors by a score of 28-7.
Head coach Mike Elko’s team won nine games in 2022, his first season at the helm, and began the new year with a bang. Clemson was the ninth-ranked team in the country prior to the loss. Duke was unranked and entered as 13.5-point underdogs.
Leonard was the catalyst in flipping the (expected) score on its head. The 6-foot-4, 212-pound quarterback went 17-of-33 for 175 yards passing and was the team’s leading rusher with eight carries for 98 yards and a score.
On the flip side, his defense had his back all night.
“God is good and so is our defense” – Riley Leonard pic.twitter.com/KLrCFHnGge
— Freddie – Duke Report (@Skeelow22) September 5, 2023
Leonard’s numbers may not jump out off the page, but his importance to the Blue Devils’ success cannot be understated. He has that dog in him, but he stays humble!
Riley Leonard is a student at Duke.
Leonard, a junior, is more than just a quarterback. That is the case at every program. The athletes are more than just athletes. Their sports do not define them.
However, it is even more true at Duke. Student-athletes (an antiquated term anyway) are equally, if not more, student than athlete. It takes an average SAT score of 1510 to get in to the university, so its academics are no joke!
Leonard, who will turn 21 years old on the 13th, is majoring in public policy while pursuing a certificate in markets and management. Should his NFL Draft stock somehow not continue to rise over the next few months, his degree will treat him quite nicely in the real world.
Although Leonard was not able to enjoy a cold beer (legally) after the Blue Devils win, he wanted to celebrate. There was only one issue — academics.
Leonard had homework. Even if he didn’t go out to party, the game ran long and his assignment was late.
After taking down the No. 9 team in the country, Leonard had to lobby health policy professor Donald H. Taylor for an extension! Unfortunately, his request was denied because his offensive line threw him under the bus.
Sorry, Professor Taylor says no special treatment for quarterbacks 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/49pHh8KPZY
— Duke University (@DukeU) September 5, 2023
After beating Clemson to begin the year, the Blue Devils’ starting quarterback was concerned about his homework. It doesn’t get anymore Duke!