DURHAM, N.C. – Former Duke running back Jela Duncan has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns to join the NFL organization as an undrafted free agent.
A team-elected captain for the 2016 season, Duncan became just the sixth running back in Duke history to surpass 2,000 career yards. In 43 career games, with five starts, he rushed 377 times for 2,025 yards (5.37) and 17 touchdowns, caught 48 passes for 334 yards (6.96) and one score and returned nine kickoffs for 147 yards (16.33).
In the Duke record book Duncan finished with the fourth-highest yards per carry career average and tied for the 14th most rushing scores. He compiled 2,506 career all-purpose yards and lost just three fumbles in 431 career touches. The Charlotte, N.C., product became the third player in Duke history to record three or more rushing touchdowns in four seasons, joining Tom Davis (1941-42-43-44) and George Clark (1944-45-46-47).
Duncan produced four 100-yard games and 16 contests with 50 or more ground yards. He registered 12 career games with two or more pass receptions, including a personal-high five catches against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl in 2012.
As a senior, Duncan started the first four games of 2016 before missing the Virginia contest due to an ankle injury. He bounced back to play in three more games before suffering a career-ending ruptured left Achilles tendon at Georgia Tech. Despite the injuries, Duncan was named the recipient of the Bob Pascal Award as Duke’s most outstanding offensive back in 2016.
During his final season, Duncan rushed 88 times for 450 yards (5.11) and six TDs while catching five passes for 33 yards (6.60). He ranked second on the squad in rushing touchdowns and finished third in rushing yardage. He led Duke in rushing yardage in four of seven contests played. He turned in a pair of 100-yard performances, against N.C. Central (15-115) and Notre Dame (21-121), gaining a career high in yards in the 38-35 victory against the Fighting Irish.
The end of Duncan’s junior year was the foundation for the productive final campaign as he was named to the 2015 ESPN All-Bowl Team. He ended the year rushing 67 times for 460 yards (6.87) and four touchdowns while catching 11 passes for 89 yards (8.09). He topped the 100-yard barrier against North Carolina (13-115) and Indiana (13-109). Duncan became one of eight players in Duke history to register a 100-yard rushing performance in a bowl game. Against Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, he teamed with Thomas Sirk (155) and Shaun Wilson (103) to become the second trio in school history to post 100 or more rushing yards each in a single game, joining Mike Grayson (188), Joel Blunk (110) and Greg Boone (101) versus Wake Forest in 1981. The trio’s helped Duke compile a school bowl-record 373 rushing yards and a 44-41 overtime victory against the Hoosiers.