There was new energy Friday night inside Wallace Wade Stadium, especially in the northeast corner of the stands. Duke’s student engagement efforts paid off as the student section made its presence felt in a way not seen in years.
Now head coach Mike Elko and the Blue Devils are stepping up.
In a Tuesday email to students who attended Friday’s Blue Devils win over Temple, excluding freshmen, Duke said it would provide Duke football shirts to students with their year of high school. graduation on the front and back. Similar jerseys, bearing the number “26” and with the addition of each student’s last name, were given to all first-year students during August experiential orientation.
“It is a priority for us to engage with the Duke student body as they are a very important part of our curriculum,” Elko wrote to The Chronicle on Tuesday evening. “The energy of the student section in the Temple game was amazing and certainly played a role in our success. We received great feedback on the Class of 26 jerseys, and it’s exciting to expand this initiative. to the upper classes.”
Since joining the Blue Devils as head coach in December 2021, Elko has appeared to be making a concerted effort to reinvigorate student support around the football program. Most recently, the former Texas A&M defensive coordinator reaffirmed his belief in the importance of a strong “student base” during Duke’s Aug. 20 media day.
Friday’s game saw 20,772 fans, Wallace Wade’s largest crowd since 2019. As Elko announced in February at halftime of a Duke men’s basketball home game, the area of students was moved from its previous location behind the end zone to the northeast corner, where it encompasses the Duke players’ tunnel and extends behind the visiting team’s bench.
In his press conference after Friday’s game, Elko made direct reference to the student section in his opening statement.
“What an amazing night to be part of the Duke Blue Devil football program,” Elko said after the game. “Incredible turnout from our student section, incredible atmosphere in this stadium. From the start, we asked a lot of people to believe in what this program could go for, and it was just awesome to see the students come out the way they did it tonight.”
Elko teased the upcoming promotion in a Twitter post on Saturday afternoon, responding to a user who asked the freshman head coach to extend the student jersey giveaway beyond the freshman class.
Students, who must register for digital football tickets by Friday at 9 a.m. to be eligible, can register on line for a jersey before the Friday deadline.
The jerseys will be distributed the week of Oct. 10 before Duke’s Oct. 15 game against North Carolina at Wallace Wade.
Duke is back in action Saturday at 12 p.m. at Northwestern.
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| sports editor
Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of the 118th volume of The Chronicle.