Charlotte 49ers all-time leading receiver Austin Duke (Charlotte, N.C./Independence H.S.), all-time leading running back Kalif Phillips (Kannapolis, N.C./AL Brown) and standout defensive lineman Brandon Banks (High Point, N.C./Southwest Guilford) have all come to terms with NFL teams as unrestricted free agents.
In a release by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, Duke has agreed to terms with the team, keeping his local talents in town, yet again.
A member of the 49ers original signing class, Duke is one of nine 49ers that played in each of Charlotte’s 46 games over its first four seasons. He made 41 starts in his four-year career. An all-Conference USA honorable mention selection, he led Charlotte in receiving in each of the program’s first four years and completed his career with all-time records for receptions (253), receiving yards (3,437) and receiving touchdowns (24). He finished with 25 total TDs (24 rec.; 1 rush). He owns 13 100-yard receiving games, including each of the program’s top nine single-game outings and had two 200+ games: a school record 254 vs. The Citadel in 2014 and 251 vs. #25 (FCS) Charleston Southern, also in 2014. He also owns the 49ers’ longest TD (98-yard reception vs. James Madison, 2014) and had 11 TD catches of 60 or more yards, including a 76-yard TD catch vs. UTSA in his final collegiate game. At the end of the 2016 season he ranked among active FBS players in career numbers: 5th, career receptions (253); 7th career rec. yards (3,437), 12th, career rec./gm (5.50) and 17th, career rec. yds/gm (74.7). Duke owns each of the 49ers single-game, single-season and career records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs and owns the school mark with four TDs in a game (3 rec.; 1 rush). He signed with the 49ers on Feb. 1, 2012 as a member of the 49ers first-ever recruiting class and participated in the 2017 College Gridiron Showcase and the 2017 Tropical Bowl after graduating in December, 2016.
Phillips announced on twitter that he is officially signing with the Green Bay Packers.
A member of the 49ers second recruiting class, he surpassed 4,000 career rushing yards, notched his 43rd career TD and had seven 100-yard performances from scrimmage in 2016. His school-record 4,020 career rushing yards ranked 13th among active FBS rushers at the end of the 2016 season. His 43 career TDs are a school record (41 rushing; 2 receiving) as are his 15 100-yard rushing performances. He ranked 7th in C-USA with a 95.0 rushing average in C-USA games. In the final nine games since returning from injury he posted seven straight 100-yard games from scrimmage, had four 100-yard rushing outings and averaged 123.9 yards from scrimmage. His 183 rushing yards at Southern Miss were the most by a 49er this season. At Temple he broke off a 66-yard TD run, the longest TD run of the season and the 49ers 4th longest TD run in school history. Phillips was named second team all-Conference USA in 2015 and earned honorable mention honors in 2016. He rushed for a school-record 1,436 yards as a sophomore, scoring a record 20 TDs. In his career, he averaged 91.4 rushing yards per game and 5.5 per carry. He rushed for over 900 yards in each of his last three seasons.
Banks, another original 49er from the program’s first recruiting class, has signed with Washington Redskins.
Banks, who ranks second all-time with 43 career starts in 44 games played, earned Honorable Mention all-Conference USA honors as a senior. He recorded a career-high 35 tackles as a senior and added 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks and 7 QB hurries. He had a team-best two forced fumbles and added one fumble recovery. He completed his career with 132 tackles and ranks third in school history with 13.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. A disruptive force, Banks is second in 49ers history with 23 QB hurries.
The three free agents who have come to terms with NFL squads join DL Larry Ogunjobi, who was a third round selection of the Cleveland Browns in the 2017 NFL Draft. In addition, two other 49ers: OL Jamal Covington (Kansas City) and DB Kedrick Davis (Detroit) have earned invites to rookie mini-camps.
Story Credit: Charlotte 49ers