PITTSBURGH —- Duquesne’s A.J. Hines has been selected by multiple outlets as a preseason pick to be an FCS All-American running back ahead of the 2018 season.
It’s one of those things that isn’t typically in the consciousness of most athletes when preparing for a season, even those with over 2,300 rushing yards in their first two collegiate seasons.
So for Hines, Duquesne’s junior star running back, it was unexpected, but “humbling” moment.
“It’s good to be recognized,” Hines said to Pittsburgh Sports Now. “They see the light and they see the potential we have in the season that’s upcoming.”
It’s shaping up to be a big year for the Dukes’ offense, which returns a good bit of firepower from the 2017 team that averaged over 32 points per game.
Hines is the big piece. His 10 touchdowns were second on the team and his 1,172 yards from scrimmage paced the Dukes, and with a new quarterback at the helm after the graduation of Tommy Stuart, he could be in line for an even bigger role in the offense in 2018.
“I don’t really feel like I’ve got a load on me,” Hines said. “We’re here as a team. … We know we’ve got a lot of talent. We just want to come out and play every play, just like coach tells us to.”
While Hines doesn’t think he’ll be due for any larger share of the work, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any additional. After all, he was only named a preseason All-American, and it’s the one at the end of the year that really means something.
“It definitely motivates me,” Hines said. “I don’t like telling people what I am, I just want them to see me play and to judge me on my actions and my play.”
Motivation has never been an issue for Hines. After rushing for over 3,400 yards at Fike High School in Wilson, N.C., Hines was under-recruited. He committed to Richmond, but an enrollment hangup left him high and dry. That’s when a last-minute trip to Duquesne solidified his future.
But the fact that he was passed over by so many has stuck with him.
“I feel like I was underrated in high school,” Hines said. “Now, I wouldn’t say I’m better, I would just say I’m smarter. I know the game and have a better feeling for the game and to trust my O-line.”
Between his own passion and high expectations, Hines should have plenty of fuel in the tank to get rolling on what could be a third straight 1,000-yard season.