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While he will always be a Wilsonian, Re’quan Boyette’s has found his home at Duke University.
The former Fike High three-sport star played football for the Blue Devils for five seasons from 2005 to 2009. He returned to Duke in 2012 as a graduate assistant coach on head coach David Cutcliffe's staff and was promoted to running backs coach the next season. Boyette, who played his last two seasons at Duke under Cutcliffe, has no plans to leave Durham anytime soon.
“For me, this is home,” said Boyette. “This is where I played and the people and staff that I played for and I’m loving it! It’s truly a blessing for me to have this opportunity with the way the profession is. People can have a job today but not tomorrow. I’m just blessed to be in the position I’m in and being able to be a mentor to young men. That’s the biggest thing that drives me within this.”
Boyette will be back in his hometown Friday as the featured speaker for the City of Wilson’s 48th annual Human Relations Banquet. Boyette said that one point he wants to make in his speech is the importance of being a great teammate.
It’s an opportunity that he relishes.
“There were a lot of people that influenced me so for me to get that opportunity to come back home and just being able to show kids in Wilson that there is a way out of that joint,” he said. “You don’t have to get bogged down in stuff in Wilson, North Carolina.”
Boyette was too busy to be bogged down as a student at Fike High more than a decade ago. A star football player, he was also a standout on the basketball court and the track. Boyette rushed for 1,930 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior on his way to being named Wilson Times Athlete of the Year. But he wasn’t about just sports, posting a 3.5 GPA and serving as Student Government Association president. He also found time to sing in the choir.
At Duke, he was a Blue Devils captain in 2008 and 2009. He ran for 1,202 yards and five TDs in his career, including a 78-yard scoring dash as a freshman that was part of his career-best 123 yards.
He graduated in 2009 with a degree in sociology.
Boyette attributes his success to his mother, Tonya, a single parent with two sons.
“I was 100-percent geared and motivated through my mom and I think that’s how it starts with any young person — at home — and I got the love and the motivation you get at home and I got that,” he said. “And it starts with the discipline you get at home and I sure enough got that!”
More importantly, Boyette said that his mother allowed him to make his own decisions and learn from them.
“She put me in position to be able to think for myself as an African-American man,” he said. “She instilled a lot of values and qualities in me but, at the end of the day, she still allowed me to make my own decisions.”
Another major influence in Boyette’s life is Cutcliffe.
“The first thing, Coach Cut is a phenomenal man. You take the football coach out of it and you have a thousand times better man than the football coach,” he said. “Every bit of who I am as a coach is because of him.”
After getting married to the former Khristen Dial of Johnson City, Tennessee, last July, Boyette has settled in Durham — hopefully at Duke for many years more.
“Being invested in this place — graduating from here, playing here, bleeding blue — I tell people all the time, ‘I’m home!’” He said. “So, I don’t even think about think possibility of X, Y and Z. We’re literally living in the moment and trying to get better each and every day.”