Another day, another ACC player on the sidelines with a knee injury. The Duke Blue Devils will start the season without senior safety Jordon Byas, who had surgery to repair a torn left meniscus and will be out for an unspecified length of time.
A fifth-year senior, Byas appeared in 35 games in his Duke career, with eight starts. He has been a special teams leader and has recorded more than 20 tackles in each of the last three seasons.
It’s been a rough week for Duke safeties; Byas’ bad news is just the latest in a series of disappointing developments at the position.
Redshirt junior Taylor Sowell was lost for the year when he ruptured his Achilles’ tendon and required surgery.
The Blue Devils hoped they’d have additional help at the position from incoming Ohio State transfer Jeremy Cash, but earlier this week, the NCAA denied Cash’s request for a transfer waiver. The sophomore safety will have to sit out this season and will be eligible to play in 2013.
It was already going to be a challenge for Duke to replace Matt Daniels, who led the team in tackles and passes defended in his senior campaign, and was the Blue Devils’ only first-team All-ACC selection last year.
Duke expects to get a boost at safety when redshirt junior Anthony Young-Wiseman returns from lower injury. Young-Wiseman, who has 21 career game appearances, was competing for a starting role before his injury and should return within the next week or two.
For now, junior Brandon Braxton and senior Walt Canty will hold down the safety position. Canty, the team’s second-leading tackler in 2011, moved into Daniels’ vacant spot, and Braxton moved up to replace Canty. Braxton played wide receiver for the Blue Devils last year before switching to defense.
Safety isn’t the only position that’s been hit hard by injuries; Byas is the sixth projected Duke starter who will miss playing time due to injury.
Starting tight end Braxton Deaver is expected to miss the season with a fractured kneecap, and starting defensive end Jamal Bruce is still out after having surgery to repair a foot fracture. Linebacker Kelby Brown also sustained a knee injury that might keep him out this year. Sophomore wide receiver Blair Holliday, who was projected to start, suffered a severe head injury in a freak jet ski accident in July and remains in a rehab facility.