Durant "50/50" for Duke

CHAPEL HILL, NC -- Less than a week ago head coach John Bunting was considering starting red-shirt freshman quarterback Matt Baker this Saturday against Duke. But that was before the possibility existed that Darian Durant could return from his thumb injury a little ahead of schedule.

Durant, who has completed 126 of 213 passes this season for 1,860 yards and 15 touchdown passes, was leading the ACC in total yards per game and passing yards per game before being injured. He was expected to miss the rest of the season, but to the surprise of his head coach and the rest of the team, he dressed in full gear and joined the team on the practice field last Thursday.

On Monday, he threw passes to the trainers, but there was no guarantee that he'd be ready by the end of the week. After the week of practice, it's still up in the air.

"I think we're 50/50 on that," Bunting said. "Each day he has thrown some. He feels better each day. He doesn't suffer a great deal of pain."

As of Thursday evening Durant had only been cleared medically to practice, due to conerns of reinjury or swelling.

"If he gets medically cleared [on Friday], that will be another hurdle," Bunting said.

And, given the chance Bunting feels his signal caller would love to get back into game action. After five weeks away from the action, the South Carolina native has been itching to get back on the field.

"There is no doubt in my mind he wants to play," Bunting said.

"I would say 'Let's go,'" Durant remarked to inquiry of his actions if given the chance to play. "I'm a competitive guy. But it's about what the coaches want, how they see things, and if they think I can help this team out."

If the coaches think he can help, you can bet he will be on the field in Wallace Wade Stadium defending the Victory Bell that Carolina has had in its possession for the past 12 years.

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