This summer, Tar Heel Blog will profile the top 25 players in the history of the North Carolina football program. The rankings were determined by votes from readers and staff.
Former North Carolina quarterback Darian Durant provided an immediate impact in his time at Chapel Hill, coming in at No. 15 on our top 25.
Career at UNC
As a product of Florence, SC and being named a Super Prep All-American, Darian Durant arrived in Chapel Hill with lofty expectations. He spent four seasons in Chapel Hill, breaking numerous records along the way.
Stats courtesy of CFB Sports Reference
Durant’s freshman season was unlike any previous first-year quarterback at North Carolina. The Florence, SC, native shattered freshman records for the Tar Heels with 17 touchdown passes, 142 completions, 1,843 passing yards, and 1,971 total yards of offense. Former UNC quarterback T.J. Yates would later break his freshman records for passing yards and completions in 2007.
Durant finished second in ACC Rookie of the Year voting, despite being named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Week six times. Following the 2001 season, Durant earned the Jeffrey Cowell Memorial award, for the team’s top freshman.
In his sophomore season, Durant led the ACC in total offense, becoming the first Tar Heel since Paul Miller in 1971 to do so
Durant’s junior season featured school records in passing attempts (389), completions (234), and passing yards (2,551). .
Following his departure from Chapel Hill in 2005, Durant sat atop the North Carolina record books in 51 different categories. Durant set career records with 1,159 passing attempts, 701 completions, 68 passing touchdowns, 8,755 passing yards, and 9,630 yards of total offense.
Honors and Awards
- 2001: Second in ACC Rookie of the Year voting
Top Games at UNC
When at his peak, Durant displayed excellence that was unseen at the quarterback position at North Carolina.
Durant posted two of his most impressive games at North Carolina during his junior season. Facing Arizona State, Durant threw for a then school record 426 yards en route to a North Carolina victory. Against the Wolfpack of NC State, Duran posted the fifth-best single-game total in school history. Durant completed 25 of his 42 passing attempts, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns. The UNC great rushed for a team-high 66 yards, collecting 386 yards of total offense.
Following his departure from North Carolina in 2005, Durant went undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft. He later signed a contract with the Baltimore Ravens and attended the team’s training camp. He spent a short time of their practice squad before ultimately being cut.
In 2006, Durant was posted on the Ottawa Renegades’ (CFL) negotiation list. Following the disbandment of the franchise, Durant was picked up by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and later traded to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
From 2006- 2008 Durant served as the team’s backup quarterback, seeing limited action in his role with the team.
In 2009, Durant was named the starting quarterback for the Roughriders, becoming the team’s first quarterback since Kent Austin to start all 18 games. He led the Roughriders to the Grey Cup before being defeated by the Montreal Alouettes. Durant was the CFL Most Outstanding Player nominee for the Roughriders and was named to the West Division All-Star roster.
Durant remained the starter for the Roughriders in the coming years, having the best season of his career in 2013. He threw only 12 interceptions en route to a career-high in touchdown passes with 31. Durant joined Dave Dickenson and Ricky Ray as the only quarterbacks to start seven consecutive games without throwing an interception. The first interception of the season for Durant came after an astounding 212 pass attempts.
The 2013 season for the Roughriders featured a victory in the Grey Cup on their home field, as Durant helped lead the franchise to their fourth Grey Cup championship.
After the Roughriders and Durant were unable to agree on a new deal in 2017, Durant was traded to the Montreal Alouettes for a fourth round pick in the CFL Draft.
Durant’s stats for his entire career in the CFL can be viewed here.
Regardless of how his career proceeds from this point, Durant has established himself as a legend in the CFL and will always be remembered for his success at North Carolina.