Over the next week, GoDuke.com will honor the seven 2013 Duke Athletics Hall of Fame inductees with their own Hall of Fame Spotlight, a seven-question interview that covers their time at Duke, the people that most influenced their remarkable careers, their advice to current student-athletes, and more.
Next up, legendary Duke wide receiver, Wes Chesson. Chesson, who will be forever remembered for his 53-yard touchdown run on the “Shoestring Play” in Duke’s 17-13 triumph over North Carolina in 1969, lettered three seasons as a member of Duke’s football team, starring as both a wide receiver and punter. In 30 career games from 1968-70, he caught 164 passes for 2,399 yards and 10 touchdowns while punting 153 times for 5,553 yards and a 36.29 yards per kick average. As a senior in 1970, Chesson established ACC single-season records for both pass receptions (74) and receiving yardage (1,080) en route to earning first team All-ACC and honorable mention All-America honors from the Associated Press.
GoDuke.com: Why did you choose Duke?
Wes Chesson: Up through my junior year of high school I was coached by Jerry McGee, a former Duke football player. He was an outstanding football coach. The respect and admiration I had for Coach McGee influenced my decision to come to Duke. He never even suggested that I might come to Duke. He didn’t try to influence me – he didn’t have to. I just saw him as a coach and person and what he meant to me on and off the field, and it had a lot to do with my choosing Duke.
GoDuke.com: What was your proudest sports-related moment at Duke?
WC: The one that everybody remembers is the shoestring play. But there were other plays that were more difficult. I tell everybody, ‘The shoestring play is the easiest touchdown I’ve ever scored and the only one anybody ever remembers.’ There were other moments – going to Ohio State my senior year and playing the number one team in the country. We actually played them pretty tough. And then the next week going to West Virginia. Bobby Bowden was the coach, they were number 12 in the country and undefeated. We beat them. We had a good team my senior year. And so it was more than a moment – my senior year and with the players on that team, it was a fun season.
GoDuke.com: What was your fondest memory of Duke outside of sports?
WC: One of the best things about coming to Duke is all the people that you meet and friendships that you develop among other students – both football and non-football students. A lot of my friends were (were here) tonight, a lot of my teammates (were here) tonight. The people you meet here at Duke is the biggest result of coming here and something I will always remember.
GoDuke.com: Who had the most influence on you during your time at Duke?
WC: That’s an easy one. I met my junior year a freshman student who I married three years later. So obviously she’s had a tremendous effect on me since that time. But from the time we met, she came from a family that was sports-oriented, she knew something about football and she was a great supporter while I was at Duke before we got married. And she’s been a great supporter ever since.
GoDuke.com: What advice do you have for current Duke student-athletes?
WC: Any student-athlete here at Duke needs to be in the moment and take full advantage of the tremendous opportunity they have to not just play athletics here at Duke, but also be a student here at Duke, learn from that opportunity, make friendships on and off the field and just take full advantage of those four years and really soak it up.
GoDuke.com: What separates Duke from other schools athletically?
WC: The combination of athletics and quality academics is certainly unique to Duke. I think that combination is what a lot of athletes are looking for. They want to come and play quality athletics but they also want to get a good education. And I think football now with what Coach Cutcliffe has done has shown good football players who want good academics can come to Duke and get a great education but also win on the football field.
GoDuke.com: What is your reaction when you hear your name and ‘Duke Athletics Hall of Famer’ in the same sentence?
WC: ‘Wow’ is just the primary reaction. When Kevin White called to let me know that I had been selected, I was just overwhelmed. To think of the athletes and especially the football players in this Hall of Fame – Leo Hart, George McAfee, Ace Parker – just go down the list. And to become a part of that group is just overwhelming and I’m tremendously honored.