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Daniel Jones, a Hidden Gem

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Once again, David Cutcliffe may be spinning his magic with another flinger of the pigskin.

At the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte on Wednesday, the Coastal Division made its rounds. Talks of who was going to take the division emerged; whether or not Miami was back, if Paul Johnson could return the Yellow Jackets to form and was Larry Fedora predicting the fall of the nation? Quietly, one story may go overlooked: the fact that, once again, David Cutcliffe may be spinning his magic with another flinger of the pigskin.

Now coming into his junior year, Duke quarterback Daniel Jones is poised for a comeback season. The 6'5'' signal caller saw a rough 2017 campaign in which the Blue Devils lost four games by a possession or less. The margin for error is already slim at Duke and a few plays cost the Blue Devils a potential eight or nine-win season a year ago. Jones amassed four of his interceptions in those four games alone. A little more care with the football and it could be a different story.

“I think we are very close and that is the exciting thing for us. We had a tough stretch there in the middle of the season, but what is exciting for us is we were able to push out of that," Jones explained. "You think about the Georgia Tech game and the Wake game and to find ways to win those in the end were huge."

Jones enters his third season under Cutcliffe, where quarterbacks tend to shine. Sean Renfree and Thaddeus Lewis each tallied over 3,000 yards in the air and a combined 39-18 touchdown-to-interception ratio in their third seasons. Jones brings something to the table those others were missing, however.

Already, Jones has totaled over 900 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Normally, 6'5'' quarterbacks aren’t apt to venture too far outside the cozy confines of the tackle box, but not Jones. He has brought nearly 40 yards a game to the rushing attack and understands its importance to the offense.

“In college football these days that is kind of the way it's going, with a quarterback who is mobile and able to run the ball and extend plays. I think that is important and I will continue to grow that part of my game," Jones added.

Jones will enter 2018 as one of only two active FBS quarterbacks to throw for over 5,500 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards. Not a bad stat line for two years of play.

Additionally, Jones will also have the added benefit of two senior tight ends and three returning senior starters at wide receiver. This could prove to be a huge catalyst towards a breakout year out for the veteran Duke quarterback. Coupled with a more favorable early season schedule, this should provide time for an inexperienced offensive line to gain some confidence alongside a well-seasoned skill group.

Confident in his abilities, Jones seems poised for potentially the best season a quarterback has had under Cutcliffe in Durham. In a league searching for quarterback stars, the ACC may have a hidden gem awaiting inside Wallace Wade Stadium.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports