Dec 2, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Maalik Murphy (6) in action during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma State Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Duke lands transfer QB Maalik Murphy

Quarterback Maalik Murphy, who drew attention when he filled in for an injured Quinn Ewers at Texas, is transferring to Duke, multiple outlets reported Saturday.

The 6-foot-5 Murphy has three seasons of eligibility remaining, and he’ll give new head coach Manny Diaz a key weapon on offense.

Duke’s 2023 starter, Riley Leonard, transferred to Notre Dame, giving the Blue Devils an opening for a starter.

Murphy entered the transfer portal earlier this month and told ESPN he was looking for a place to play immediately. While Ewers hasn’t confirmed he will return to Texas instead of entering the NFL draft in the spring, all signs point to Ewers staying.

His decision to enter the portal means Murphy will not be with the No. 3 Longhorns when they face No. 2 Washington in a College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day.

“I just want to be in a position where I can play,” Murphy told ESPN last week. “Where I can get a chance to play. I don’t want to be waiting around and see what happens or anything like that. I’d rather kick-start my career while I can.”

Murphy, who won his starts against BYU on Oct. 28 and then-No. 23 Kansas State on Nov. 4, completed 40 of 71 passes (56.3 percent) for 477 yards on the season. He threw three touchdown passes and was intercepted three times.

Murphy played at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., before arriving at Texas. The 247Sports composite listed him as the No. 9 quarterback in the 2022 class, and as of Saturday has him listed as the No. 4 quarterback in the transfer portal and the No. 16 player in the portal regardless of position.

Duke finished the 2023 season with a 7-5 mark.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils wide receiver Jalon Calhoun (5) celebrates a play  during the second half of the game against Pittsburgh Panthers at Wallace Wade Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Enter the interim: Duke, Troy seek bowl win for coaching fill-ins

Unique is a fair description for the Birmingham Bowl matchup of teams linked by their current coaching circumstances.

Interim coaches direct Duke and Troy for Saturday’s game at Birmingham, Ala., and insist their clubs have plenty to play for even if changes at the top are a predominant theme.

“We’re going to prepare like any other game,” Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson said.

Trooper Taylor, Blue Devils running backs coach, was placed in charge at Duke after Mike Elko left for Texas A&M. For Troy, defensive coordinator Greg Gasparato is the interim coach after Jon Sumrall’s departure to Tulane.

Troy (11-2) has a 10-game winning streak with hopes of landing a national ranking to end the 2023 season. Duke (7-5) spent time in the Top 25 before a midseason slump.

“I think does (provide) us a little edge to try to get ranked,” Watson said. “I think it’s a good opportunity.”

Manny Diaz, most recently Penn State’s defensive coordinator and former Miami Hurricanes head coach, is Duke’s head coach for next season.

Gerad Parker, who was Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator this season, was named as the next Troy head coach earlier this week. Parker was a member of Duke’s staff in 2017-18 under coach David Cutcliffe.

But before those men take full control of the respective programs, the teams are attempting to put a bow on the current season. In short, there’s a bowl game to be played.

“Despite the adversity, the turmoil, the locker room stuck together,” Duke quarterback Grayson Loftis said. “Like Coach Troop says, ‘The standard is the standard.’ It doesn’t change.”

Troy has won five straight bowl appearances. Duke has a four-game bowl winning streak.

The Trojans are Sun Belt Conference champions and co-defensive coordinator Tayler Polk will handle defensive play-calling. Troy entered the bowl season sixth nationally in sacks and 15th in total defense.

Watson has thrown for 3,339 yards and 27 touchdowns this year.

“We know we have a challenge and have to step up and prepare like we’re playing a great team,” Duke linebacker Tre Freeman said.

Loftis, a freshman who had been the third-stringer, became Duke’s starting quarterback for the final four games of the regular season after injuries to Riley Leonard and Henry Belin IV. The Blue Devils went 2-2 in those games.

Senior receiver Jalon Calhoun of Duke will try to add to his lofty receiving totals. He eclipsed 3,000 career yards in the regular-season finale vs. Pitt.

“It just speaks volumes about my hard work,” Calhoun said. “My teammates really helped me in pushing me every day, so I really appreciate that.”

Duke entered the bowl season ranked 14th nationally in red-zone defense. However, defensive tackle Aeneas Peebles, an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection who had a team-leading 8.5 sacks, and defensive end RJ Oben entered the transfer portal and won’t play in the bowl. On offense, running back Jordan Waters also has left the Blue Devils.

This is the first time a Sun Belt Conference team will face a team from a Power 5 conference in a bowl.

“That’s going to be exciting,” Watson said. “Like everybody has been saying, it’s a chance for us to showcase our football program.

Taylor spent 2009-12 on Auburn’s staff along with earlier stints at Southeastern Conference member Tennessee.

“I am very familiar with the City of Birmingham, so I know our players and fans will have a great experience,” Taylor said.

Duke won the only two previous meetings with Troy. This time, the Trojans are hoping for a home state boost.

“Being in Birmingham and in the state of Alabama, I think Troy fans will really show up and show out,” Watson said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Duke Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Duke QB Riley Leonard transfers to Notre Dame

Former Duke quarterback Riley Leonard announced Tuesday that he has transferred to Notre Dame.

“A dream come true,” Leonard wrote on Twitter.

Leonard threw for 2,967 yards with 20 touchdowns and rushed for 699 yards and 13 scores in 13 games with the Blue Devils in 2022. He was limited by injury to just seven games this season, finishing with 1,102 yards passing and three touchdowns and rushing for 352 yards and four scores before entering the transfer portal last month.

The addition of Leonard is a welcome one for the Fighting Irish, who learned quarterback Sam Hartman will not play in the team’s upcoming Sun Bowl. Instead, Hartman will focus on preparing for the 2024 NFL Draft.

No. 16 Notre Dame (9-3) faces No. 19 Oregon State (8-4) in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29 in El Paso, Texas, and expects sophomore Steve Angeli to line up in Hartman’s spot. Angeli had 272 yards and four touchdowns this season with 19 completions in 25 pass attempts and one interception.

Hartman, 24, played one season at Notre Dame after a prolific career at Wake Forest.

He completed 191 of 301 pass attempts for 2,689 yards with 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz grins as his unit comes to the sideline after creating a turnover late in the the second half of an NCAA football game against Indiana at Beaver Stadium Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in State College, Pa.

Duke names Manny Diaz as head coach

Manny Diaz will be introduced Saturday as Duke’s new head football coach, the 23rd in school history.

Diaz replaces Mike Elko, who departed to become the head coach at Texas A&M after guiding Duke to a 16-9 record in two seasons in Durham, N.C.

“We are grateful and humbled for this opportunity and could not be more excited to be the head football coach at Duke University,” Diaz said, praising campus leaders for their “true commitment to this program.”

“Duke University is an elite institution in every facet, and we are excited to be a part of it. I’m beyond excited to get to work,” he said.

Diaz, 49, compiled a 21-15 record as head coach of Miami from 2019-21 but was fired following the 2021 season. He joined James Franklin’s staff at Penn State as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2022, and the Nittany Lions rank tips in the nation in total defense (223.2 yards per game) and third in scoring defense this season (11.4 points per game).

Diaz was the defensive coordinator at Miami (2016-18), Mississippi State (2010, 2015), Louisiana Tech (2014), Texas (2011-13) and Middle Tennessee (2006-09).

“He is an experienced coach with a strong track record of success, deep knowledge of the ACC, and an exciting vision for the future of our program,” Duke president Vincent E. Price said. “I am confident our student-athletes will continue to achieve tremendous success on the field and in the classroom under his leadership.”

The Blue Devils (7-5, 4-4 ACC) are scheduled to face Troy (11-2) of the Sun Belt Conference in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 23. Associate head coach and running backs coach Trooper Taylor is serving as the interim coach.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils running back Jordan Waters (7) runs during the second quarter against the Clemson Tigers at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.  Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Duke RBs Jaquez Moore, Jordan Waters to transfer

Duke running backs Jaquez Moore and Jordan Waters are the latest players entering the transfer portal after head coach Mike Elko’s departure to Texas A&M.

Moore announced his intentions on social media on Wednesday. Waters’ departure was reported by 247 Sports.

Waters led the Blue Devils with 753 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and Moore ranked second with 601 yards and six scores.

Starting quarterback Riley Leonard announced he was leaving Duke (7-5, 4-4 ACC) and entering the transfer portal on Nov. 29.

“After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to enter my name into the transfer portal with 1 year of eligibility left,” Moore posted on X. “… I am ecstatic to embark on this journey as I step in to new beginnings.”

Waters accumulated 1,929 yards from scrimmage with 24 touchdowns at Duke from 2019-23. Moore gained 1,266 yards from scrimmage with 11 scores from 2021-23.

–Field Level Media

Penn State football defensive coordinator Manny Diaz walks onto the turf with other members of the team during football media day at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, August 6, 2022, in State College.

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Report: Duke targeting Penn State DC Manny Diaz

Duke is expected to hire Penn State defensive coordinator and former Miami head coach Manny Diaz to lead the Blue Devils, ESPN reported Thursday.

Diaz would replace Mike Elko, who departed to become the head coach at Texas A&M after guiding Duke to a 16-9 record in two seasons in Durham, N.C.

Diaz, 49, compiled a 21-15 record with the Hurricanes from 2019-21 before joining James Franklin’s staff in 2022. His Nittany Lions rank third in the nation in scoring defense this season (11.4 points per game).

Diaz was the defensive coordinator at Miami (2016-18), Mississippi State (2010, 2015), Louisiana Tech (2014), Texas (2011-13) and Middle Tennessee (2006-09).

The Blue Devils (7-5, 4-4 ACC) are scheduled to face Troy in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 23. Associate head coach and running backs coach Trooper Taylor is serving as the interim coach.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Duke Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Duke QB Riley Leonard enters transfer portal

Duke quarterback Riley Leonard, who missed the last four weeks of the regular season with a toe injury, entered the transfer portal Wednesday and said his goodbyes on social media.

ESPN reported that Notre Dame is expected to target Leonard.

Leonard hits the portal days after head coach Mike Elko departed Duke for Texas A&M. Leonard took to his Instagram page to say, “Thank you, Duke.” Leonard is tagged in the portal with a “do not contact,” meaning he reaches out to schools but doesn’t want programs reaching out to him.

Leonard also missed Duke’s Oct. 14 home win over North Carolina State with a knee injury.

The junior completed 95 of 165 passing attempts for 1,102 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He added 352 rushing yards and four TDs on the ground.

Last season, Leonard appeared in 13 games and threw for 2,967 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 699 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was named MVP of the Military Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko looks on before the first half of the game against Pittsburgh Panthers at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Duke made bid to retain Mike Elko, names Trooper Taylor interim coach

Duke bargained with head coach Mike Elko “into the late hours” on Monday morning before he opted to accept a new job at Texas A&M.

Trooper Taylor was named interim head coach following the formal announcement by Texas A&M of Elko’s hiring.

“I met with the current student-athletes this morning as well as the staff,” athletic director Nina King said Monday.

Taylor, 53, has been on the Duke coaching staff since 2019 in multiple roles and held the title of associate head coach and RBs coach in 2023.

King said a national search headed by Parker Executive Search was underway Monday.

“Our goal is to find an exceptional head coach to come in and lead this group of elite student-athletes. We will be thorough in our process and we will act swiftly,” King said.

Taylor’s stints as an assistant coach include major programs Baylor (1993-97), Tennessee (2004-07), Oklahoma State (2008) and Auburn (2009-12).

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko before the first half of the game against North Carolina State Wolfpack at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Texas A&M expected to hire Duke’s Mike Elko as coach

Texas A&M is expected to hire Duke coach Mike Elko as its next head coach, according to multiple reports.

An official announcement is expected in the next 24 hours, ESPN reported Sunday afternoon, citing sources.

Elko served as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M for four seasons before leaving to become Duke’s head coach. He is 16-9 in two seasons with the Blue Devils, including 7-5 this season.

Texas A&M is looking for a head coach after firing Jimbo Fisher after nearly six seasons. Ironically, Fisher brought Elko to College Station on his original coaching staff after the 2017 season.

Elko, 46, was named Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2022, when the Blue Devils went 9-4.

This season, Duke opened the season with an impressive 28-7 takedown of Clemson.

The Blue Devils were 4-0 before quarterback Riley Leonard injured an ankle in a 21-14 loss to Notre Dame. Leonard later sustained a toe injury against Louisville on Oct. 28 and hasn’t played since.

Duke is 3-5 since the 4-0 start. The Blue Devils closed the regular season with a 30-19 win over Pitt on Saturday.

Fisher went 45-25 with the Aggies before being fired with two games remaining this season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 16, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nate Yarnell (19) passes against the Boston College Eagles during the third quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Duke looking for first win over Pitt since 2014

Pittsburgh and Duke have both lost four of their last five games entering Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season finale in Durham, N.C.

The Blue Devils (6-5, 3-4) hope for home relief after losing 30-27 at Virginia last Saturday and 47-45 in double-overtime the previous week at North Carolina.

Duke is bowl eligible but on a downward spiral following a 4-0 start to the season.

“We have to very quickly try to figure out how to resolve it and fix it,” Duke coach Mike Elko said.

The Blue Devils, ranked for much of the season, won’t be able to repeat the nine-win season accomplished in 2022 in Elko’s first season.

“Obviously, a lot of people in our building and in our locker room want to make sure that this group goes out the right way on Saturday and has a really strong finish to what has been a really strong two years,” Elko said. “That kind of becomes a rallying cry for this week.”

Pitt (3-8, 2-5) halted a four-game skid by defeating Boston College 24-16 last Thursday in its home finale.

“Things haven’t gone our way in a lot of games, but I couldn’t be prouder of our football team,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said.

This will be their final game, but a positive outcome could help set the tone for the offseason.

“You have to focus,” Narduzzi said. “Just focus and take care of the details, and good things happen.”

Pitt will have quarterback Nate Yarnell at the controls for his third career start. He passed for 207 yards and a score and also rushed for a touchdown against Boston College.

“He protected the ball and gives you a chance to win a football game,” Narduzzi said. “He just takes care of the details.”

Pitt has won all seven meetings against Duke since Narduzzi became the head coach in 2015, including a 54-29 rout on the most recent trip to Durham in 2021.

–Field Level Media