Boyette’s ‘passion’ paves way to Duke staff
Re’quan Boyette arrived at Duke from Wilson’s Fike High School eight years ago because he felt like the school and team were like family.
Now, Boyette has joined that family for his full-time career.
A former Duke running back who was a graduate assistant coach this past season, Boyette was promoted last week to running backs coach by Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe.
Even though Duke has become a far more competitive team under Cutcliffe than it was when Boyette arrived as a freshman in 2005, he said the togetherness hasn’t changed.
“Duke is still the same way today,” Boyette said. “It feels like a family. The atmosphere here, the people here are great.”
Boyette joins another former Duke player, Scottie Montgomery, as new hires to Duke’s full-time coaching staff this month. They replace Matt Lubick and Ron Middleton, who left for jobs at Oregon and with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively.
Boyette chose Duke when Ted Roof was the Blue Devils head coach, though his final two years in uniform came after Cutcliffe took over the program in December 2007. Cutcliffe said Boyette is ready to help the Blue Devils improve even more.
“He has earned this opportunity in every regard,” Cutcliffe said. “Re’quan has an outstanding knowledge of what we’re doing offensively. Obviously, he has performed within our system as a player, and now he’s taught it as a coach and that puts him in touch with the young men he’s coaching.
“His past experience of coming out of the state of North Carolina, choosing Duke and seeing all of the opportunities that Duke has given him, really puts him in a great position to recruit to this great university.”
A Shrine Bowl player at Fike in 2004, Boyette had offers from Wake Forest, East Carolina and N.C. State and, later, from North Carolina. He chose the Blue Devils because of the feeling he got while on campus.
“It felt like home to me,” Boyette said. “The education was second to none. Taking that burden off my mother and her having to support me in college, that’s something she didn’t have to worry about. I think I made a pretty good decision.”
Boyette said the idea of coaching as a profession entered his mind in 2008, his fourth season at Duke. A knee injury sidelined him for the season and allowed him to take a redshirt year.
While still around the team, he was drawn to the Blue Devils’ young running backs such as Jay Hollingsworth and Patrick Kurunwune.
“I tried to do what I could to mentor them and tutor them on the field and off the field — teach them the offense, be their eyes off the field,” Boyette said. “That’s when I started realizing, well, maybe coaching is something that I may want to get in to.”
When his playing career ended, Boyette spent two years working outside football, doing sales and marketing among other things. Still, football never left his mind.
“Working with the kids and being a mentor to guys 18 to 23 years old is certainly something I have a passion for,” Boyette said. “This profession puts it all together, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
His job now is to help Duke’s running game become more of a force in the Blue Devils offense.
Duke will return its top four running backs from last year’s 6-7 team that played in a bowl game for the first time since 1994.
Senior Juwan Thompson and redshirt junior Josh Snead are the most experienced backs. Sophomore Jela Duncan had a team-best 516 rushing yards as a freshman while sophomore Shaq Powell has returned to the backfield after working at safety in December prior to the Belk Bowl.
“The running game will continue to get better,” Boyette said. “We have some great running backs, young guys in that backfield. We are looking to be the best we’ve had a in a long time.”
His other important duties involve recruiting, where Cutcliffe has put an emphasis landing in-state players. Boyette’s background certainly helps him there.
“We have a lot of really, really good players here in the state,” Boyette said. “We can’t keep letting them get away to other teams out of state or even to other teams in the state. We want to make our mark in the state.
“That’s what I want to do. I want to be part of recruiting in North Carolina because I understand what it takes. Being from North Carolina and coming to Duke I feel like I have an upper hand in some areas that other guys don’t when it comes to recruiting guys in North Carolina.”
In addition to Boyette’s new duties, Cutcliffe also announced new assignments for some other staff members.
Kurt Roper and John Latina have had assistant head coach titles added to their jobs. Roper will continue to coach the quarterbacks and call plays as the offensive coordinator.
Latina, the offensive line coach, now is the run-game coordinator.
Zac Roper, who coached Duke’s running backs this past season, shifts to tight ends coach while also working as special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
Derek Jones will continue to coach Duke’s defensive backs while helping Zac Roper as assistant special teams coordinator.