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Duke football captain Shaka Heyward declares for 2023 NFL Draft

Shaka Heyward (42) reaches during Duke's Oct. 15 loss to North Carolina.
Shaka Heyward (42) reaches during Duke's Oct. 15 loss to North Carolina.

Duke captain Shaka Heyward is moving on.

After five years in Durham and an overwhelmingly successful final season as a Blue Devil, the redshirt senior linebacker announced his declaration for the NFL Draft via Instagram Thursday evening. Heyward forgoes his final season of college eligibility in pursuit of a career at football's highest level.

"After much thought, the time has now come for me to pursue my next goal," Heyward wrote in his announcement. "I am officially announcing my decision to enter the NFL Draft this spring. I am honored and blessed beyond words to have played for this great University. Without God none of this would be possible."

After earning Third Team All-ACC honors in 2021, Heyward pieced together a 94-tackle season in 2022 to earn an All-ACC Honorable Mention nod. Before missing Duke's Military Bowl victory over UCF following a tonsillectomy, he was on pace for his first 100-tackle season. Only graduate safety Darius Joiner led Heyward in tackles this past season with 97.

Heyward, named a team captain this past season alongside defensive tackle DeWayne Carter and offensive lineman Jacob Monk, departs as Duke's 13th-leading tackler all-time with 339 since 2019. 

As a draft prospect, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Dacula, Ga., native projects as a well-rounded linebacker with a specialty in stopping the run. The next step in his career path will become clear when the NFL Draft takes place April 27-29 in Kansas City, Mo.


Jonathan Levitan | Sports Editor

Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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