Jacob Hebda | Staff Writer
May 2, 2019
Duquesne football’s season may have ended in December, but the program continues to enjoy the effects of an unprecedented season on the Bluff.
A year after a crushing loss to Central Connecticut State in the de facto NEC Championship game in 2017, the program responded with a dramatic victory over the Blue Devils to reclaim the championship honor this past year. The Dukes proceeded to defeat Towson in the first round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs, marking the program’s first FCS postseason victory ever.
Now, two Duquesne football alumni have the opportunity of a lifetime — the shot to play in the NFL.
This week, Nehari Crawford and Matt Fitzpatrick accepted mini-camp offers from NFL teams. Crawford and Fitzpatrick will be joining the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.
Crawford, a 5-foot-11 wide receiver from Fort Pierce, Fla., was a two-time First Team All-NEC selection. He garnered 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, including 71 receptions for 1,048 yards in his senior year.
In addition to his impressive numbers, Crawford was on the receiving end of the 56-yard Daniel Parr touchdown pass that all but clinched the NEC Championship for the Dukes. He totaled 10 receptions for 124 yards in that critical game.
Crawford’s stellar play on the Bluff earned him a trip to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California. He is the second-consecutive Duke to play in the annual event, as offensive lineman Ben Huss participated last year.
Fitzpatrick is a 6-foot-3 offensive lineman from Pennsauken, N.J. Unlike Crawford, his position is not conducive to gaudy stats. However, similar to his former teammate, he was a key member of Duquesne’s recent success on the field, starting 35 consecutive games. He was chosen for the All-NEC Second Team in 2016 and 2017.
His blocking also helped the Dukes’ rushing attack lead the NEC in 2016 and 2017. In 2017, he was a part of an offensive line that ranked 10th nationally in tackles for loss allowed and 28th in sacks allowed.
Fitzpatrick also excelled off the field during his time at Duquesne. He was selected for the 2017 Cosida Academic All-District team.