In fifth season, Duke offensive lineman continues to follow in father’s footsteps

Every fall Saturday for the past four years at Duke home games, Stanley Monk has returned to his alma mater.
The former Blue Devils running back played in Durham from 1984 to 1987, but he doesn’t visit just to bask in the ambiance of days old — he goes to support his son, Jacob Monk, a four-year starter on the offensive line.
“I’m the biggest cheerleader for Duke ... every Sunday I’m hoarse,” Stanley said in a Duke all-access program in 2021. “It takes me until Tuesday to get my voice back because I’m a fan of Duke, I’m a fan of football and I’m a fan of my son Jacob.”
Jacob, now a fifth-year player and the team’s starting center, grew up in Clayton, outside of Raleigh. Naturally, Stanley trained his son to play running back, but it became apparent due to his size — he’s now 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds — that wouldn’t be his path.
Rated by ESPN as the No. 6 center in the country, Jacob collected offers from Wake Forest, South Carolina, Oregon, N.C. State and others before eventually settling on playing at his father’s alma mater.
Since his freshman season, Jacob has been a consistent, reliable member of Duke’s line. He was even the first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season-opener for the Blue Devils since Bryan Morgan in 2007.
In 46 career games, he’s accumulated 45 starts and more than 3,000 snaps —the only returning starter with experience of that volume. Receiving back-to-back honorable mention All-ACC selections in 2021 and 2022, Jacob has also earned league-wide recognition heading into his fifth and final season.
Working last season to protect quarterback Riley Leonard, Jacob and his line contributed to a program-record 31 rushing touchdowns while allowing the fewest sacks and tackles for loss in the conference.
David Feeley, Duke’s director of football sports performance, asked Leonard last week who he would pick if he had to go to war with any guy in the locker room.
“It’s Monk,” Leonard said. “Monk’s always going to have my back. He’s the most intense football player I’ve ever played with. ... He’s an incredible human being.”
Jacob has been playing football at Duke since Leonard was a junior in high school, his skill set allowing him to play everywhere on the line. He returns to the 2023 roster along with two other starting linemen, Graham Barton and Maurice McIntyre.
Leonard recognizes how lucky he is to have returning experienced players like Jacob in front of him for the next year.
“He’s seen every defense imaginable, every blitz imaginable. He just goes into every game so confident that it gives me confidence,” the quarterback said. “There’s never been a matchup he’s been shaky about. He’s going to win, and that’s his mindset.”
Jacob didn’t have to come back to Duke this year. He could have transferred, graduated or declared for the NFL. But, he said he had “unfinished business” to attend to with the Blue Devils.
He said he decided after Duke’s game against Kansas last September, that he would be returning to the stadium he used to traverse as a child for one final year. But, the former Corinth Holders High School standout didn’t inform coach Mike Elko of his decision until three weeks later, when the team played UNC.
It’s rare for players to have such a deep history with the very program they play for. For Jacob, this year marks not only his last college football season, but his last stretch of games as a player at the university he and his father have shared.
What he’ll miss the most when it’s all over and done?
“Wallace Wade Stadium,” he said. “This is my last time I’m going to be suiting up and playing for them. It’s very emotional, but you just have to embrace it.”

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