Throughout past drafts, we have seen countless running backs make names for themselves. Whether they come from the biggest powerhouses like Alabama or small schools like UL Lafayette, this year brings another special class with talented athletes such as Kenneth Walker III, Zach Charbonnet, and James Cook. Every year there’s a hidden gem who turns heads and makes people ask how we missed him. Let me introduce you to Duke running back Mataeo Durant.
He’s six-foot-one and weighs 195 pounds. Durant was one of the few bright spots on last year’s Duke squad. In his last season, he had 1,241 rushing yards to go along with nine touchdowns. As a side note, he nearly averaged five yards per carry. Durant was third in the ACC with 1,497 yards from scrimmage and was tops in the conference with 255 rushing attempts. Impressively, in 2020, Durant was fourth in his conference with a 6.8 rushing yards per carry average. While he didn’t win any awards as a result of Duke’s losing record, he did stand out for his team and get the job done when called upon.
Durant has the prototypical size for a running back in today’s game, so there’s no question about his body being able to withstand a pro-style game. He also has great vision and shoots out with a cannon-like speed burst once an open lane is seen by him. You might as well get ready to celebrate the touchdown.
He’s also not just someone you just hand the ball to either, playing a role in Duke’s passing game. Looking no further than his performance against Charlotte, we see someone with noticeable talent. In this game, he turned college football fans’ heads with three touchdowns and 250 rushing yards on 29 carries. Despite losing this game, he still had a memorable game.
Duke RB Mataeo Durant is a bit thin in the hips for NFL RB, but works in the middle with jump-cuts, nice first step. Lowers shoulder in the open field, can run through arm tackles. Slasher is a receiving threat in flat, as well, in Justin Jackson mold. Possible KR. #SnapScout22 pic.twitter.com/1yc5P6uyR8
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) July 11, 2021
Durant’s main issues on the field would be a matter of two things: ball security and playing in an inferior conference. He’s had three fumbles in his final season, but he doesn’t fold when that happens. We must also take into account that playing on an inferior team also likely played a role in why there haven’t been more eyes on him. He is the definition of a great athlete stuck on the wrong team.
In a wide-open running back class, Durant might end up being drafted late in the third or fourth round of the upcoming draft. While he was literally the offense at Duke, he could find himself being a team’s third down back. That could put pressure on the depth chart as he gets better during the season. I have Durant’s ceiling as Deuce McAllister, with his floor being Jamal Lewis or Fred Jackson.
*Top Photo: Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports