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Special teams could help Duke RB Shaun Wilson stick with Bucs

Undrafted free agent had penchant for big plays, long returns in Blue Devils career.
Duke's Shaun Wilson is hoping to stick around as an undrafted rookie running back this fall.
Duke's Shaun Wilson is hoping to stick around as an undrafted rookie running back this fall. (DUKE FOOTBALL)
Published May 12, 2018

Second-round pick Ronald Jones of USC has turned heads in Bucs rookie minicamp as a big-play addition for this fall. But could a second rookie running back make the cut with the Bucs?

Duke's Shaun Wilson, who got looks on punt returns at Saturday's rookie minicamp practice, is hoping special-teams value could help him stick around as an undrafted rookie.

"We thought it was a good fit," Wilson said of choosing the Bucs after the draft. "The special-teams coach liked me, so I have a chance to contribute on special teams and on returns.  I just felt like there was a good chance to make the 53."

Wilson, 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season at Duke, but his career is loaded with promising flashes and long touchdowns. He had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Indiana in 2015, a 96-yard score on a kickoff return in Duke's win against Notre Dame in 2016, and a 76-yard kickoff return this past season.

Big rushing games? He had touchdowns of 69, 68 and 46 yards in a 245-yard game against Kansas as a freshman in 2014, and he went for 176 against Baylor last year. He had an 85-yard run and an 89-yard catch in 2015  as well.

The Bucs return Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims from last year, with Jones displacing Doug Martin as a primary ballcarrier. So Wilson would have to beat out a proven veteran in Rodgers or Sims if the Bucs carried only four backs on roster.

Pass protection, which can be a limiting factor for a young back, is something Wilson said he's always taken pride in doing well.

"When I was in college, that was always expected from my running backs coach," he said. "In order to play, you had to be able to pass-protect, and I knew that coming in from the get-go. I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel I could do that."