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Military Bowl Presented by Peraton - UCF v Duke

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When you look back at the 2022 college football season, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better story in the sport, than what happened in Durham, NC. Mike Elko was inheriting a Duke program that had slipped in recent years under David Cutcliffe after he had taken the program to heights they hadn’t seen since the Steve Spurrier days. Every coach sells a program with a vision of winning games on a regular basis and competing for division titles, and conference championships. Even though Elko would never admit it, he didn’t that would be possible in the first season, and yet he led Duke to a 9-4 record, with a bowl win, as they exceeded every expectation and then some.

The biggest reason for the success was QB Riely Leonard, who put together a masterful season, as he threw for almost 3,000 yards, with 20 touchdowns, against 6 interceptions. Leonard went toe to toe with Drake Maye in a classic rivalry shootout and gave Duke a chance to win virtually every time they stepped on the football field. Earlier today, Leonard joined the Wes & Walker Show on WFNZ, as he talked one on one, with arguably his biggest fan in Wes Bryant. After beginning his bromance with the midday radio host, Leonard got to business talking ball, as he talked about how his head coach instilled confidence within the program on his first day on the job. In a day and time where players transfer left and right, Leonard explained why he never thought about doing so “How can I leave you? These guys are family to me. How can I leave this education? It was such an easy decision for me.” That type of leadership and commitment is one the biggest reasons why Duke experienced the success it had last year and just adds to the list of reasons of that make it so easy to root for him on Saturdays.

Entering 2023, the biggest question around the Duke program is was last a fluke? And if not, how do they build off of last season? We’ll find out right away, as they host Clemson on Labor Day, to end the kick-off weekend of college football. Leonard addressed the season-opening showdown with the Tigers saying “This is an opportunity, not a challenge. This is a chance to prove to the country that we aren’t a one-year team. Last year we had a great year, but we’re here to stay.” We’ll have to wait a little over a month to find out if Duke is ready to compete with the likes of Clemson or not, but if their QB has anything to say about it, they aren’t going down without a fight.

You can catch the Wes & Walker Show every weekday from 12-3 PM on Sports Radio 92.7 WFNZ, and the WFNZ app.