Tag Archives: Blair Holliday

Duke WR Conner Vernon scores his 1st of 2 TDs against Tulane last year -BDN Photo

Two-time All-ACC WR Conner Vernon checks in with BDN

Duke WR Conner Vernon scores his 1st of 2 TDs against Tulane last year -BDN Photo

Duke senior WR Conner Vernon is poised to rewrite the Duke and ACC record books during his final campaign in Durham this fall. Vernon will enter his senior year just 34 catches and 842 yards shy of the ACC career record-holders. After flirting with the NFL Draft earlier this offseason, Vernon is committed to finishing what he started at Duke before moving on to the next level.

BDN caught up with the Blue Devils’ star receiver after spring practice earlier this week.

 

BDN: You’ve been limited by injury this spring. First of all, how is your health right now?

It’s better. I’m back out there, I was out there today for practice, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.

BDN: Should fans expect to see you in the Spring Game on March 31?

Yes, that’s what I’m hoping.

BDN: After three All-ACC caliber seasons at Duke, you considered entering the NFL Draft this year. Can you talk a little bit about that process and ultimately, why did you decide to return to Duke for your senior year?

Really, it just came down to just trying to finish what I came here to do at Duke, and that’s to get them back to the program they once were. I really just wanted to jump start the new direction that Coach Cutcliffe has turned this program around in. Also, finishing up graduating and getting my degree was a really big thing for me and my family, so that also played a role into it.

BDN: As a rising senior, you now become one of the veterans and leaders on this team. What is your assessment of the team in spring practice so far, especially as you compare it to past seasons?

This team, we’re a really young team, but we have a lot of talent, which is something we’ve had in the past, but I think the difference now is that we have a lot more depth at each position, and that’s going to help us a lot. We have a lot of young guys who have grown up a lot this spring, who have shown that they can play at this level, which is a big improvement from prior years. We have a very good recruiting class coming in that will have some guys who can play right away, and we’re hoping that will push some of the older guys to keep working to keep getting better. Really, that’s what this spring is all about. The competition level has been a lot higher than it has been in the past.

BDN: You mentioned the youth on this team and the higher level of competition in practices. Who are some of your younger teammates that have impressed you this spring?

From what I’ve seen so far, some of the young guys who have really stepped up is Blair Holliday at the receiver position, he’s taken on a starting role and has been playing a lot with the 1 offense, he’s really stepped up. On the defensive side, Kyler Brown, Kelby’s younger brother, he’s been all over the field, flying around, so that’s been really good to see. I’m definitely missing a few, there’s been a bunch. Dezmond Johnson has really stepped up on defense. There’s been a bunch of guys I’m missing right now, but when we pull up the tape you’ll see flashes from some guys that are really impressive and things that they haven’t shown in the past.

BDN: Over the past couple of seasons, Duke has struggled to score in the red zone. Why do you think this is? What are you working on this spring to improve the red zone offense?

I think it’s really just an execution standpoint, for some reason down there we just lack execution. It’s something we have to fix because we have to score points down there, field goals aren’t going to cut it, we need touchdowns. Also, down there execution is very important because you don’t have a lot of room to work with. It’s difficult down there to throw the ball so we have to have our running game, which has stepped up a lot this spring. That’s something we’re looking forward to this fall, being able to run the ball down there as opposed to relying on the past.

BDN: You’re closing in on an historic career at Duke, and looking to lead this team back to a bowl game in your senior year. What are some of the things that come to mind as you reflect back on your decision to come to Duke and your career here?

If I could do it all over again, I would do everything the same. This has been home for the last four years and it’s been a great four years. I’ve been put in a position with this offense and Coach Cutcliffe’s game plan to be able to be successful and have these kind of records, it’s an honor. From the moment I stepped on campus to where we are now, the difference is monumental. From our new facilities, we have the new Pascal Indoor Facility. When I first got here, the Brooks Facility wasn’t up yet, so I got to see that develop. Then we’ve added to our weight room, and really just the buzz around town is that Duke Football isn’t an afterthought now. It’s what’s happening now around Durham, and that’s something that was nonexistent before Coach Cutcliffe got here. Getting to see that grow has really been fun to watch.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Conner, and best of luck this fall.

Thank you so much, Patrick!

Duke hopes to add another talented California WR in Jonavaughn Williams

California WR/DB Jonavaughn Williams has a Duke offer

Duke hopes to add another talented California WR in Jonavaughn Williams

With Duke’s prolific passing offense, it’s no surprise that the Blue Devils have had success recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. After adding California WR Blair Holliday in the class of 2011, the Blue Devils hope to continue that trend in the class of 2012, and have offered another top California receiver. Jonavaughn Williams is a 6’0” 197 pound WR/DB prospect from Jserra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, CA. As a junior, Williams caught 5 touchdowns and received All-Trinity League honors. Highlights of his junior year can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

For DB, I’m bigger, I’m 6’0” and weight 197, so I’m bigger, which helps me fight with the bigger receivers that I play against. Also, the toughness that Jserra brings to the table for an athlete. Also, the league that I play in with Servite and Mater Dei and all these good schools out here, it definitely helps me mentally be a better player.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

Right now I’m working on my speed definitely, that’s the man thing I’m working on. I’ve been working in the sports lab at my school just stretching and getting a lot faster so that I can be prepared to compete at the college level.

BDN: What are your goals for yourself and your team for your senior season?

The goal for my senior season is to make the playoffs because we’re a relatively new school and we haven’t made the playoffs yet, so that’s a main goal for my team and I, to make the playoffs this year.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

In a school, I’m definitely looking for location and the weather, but moreso for how they treat their athletes as far as housing and academics, tutoring, so academics is a big part, and that they treat you like a student, not just an athlete.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest or most often?

I’ve been offered by four schools, and that’s Duke, Arizona State, Washington, and San Diego State, but I’ve been in contact with some smaller schools like Northern Arizona and a few smaller schools like that.

BDN: You mentioned location being important; do you have a preference to stay on the west coast?

Well, it doesn’t really matter to me, just wherever I feel comfortable. I just want to visit as many schools as I can so I can find out if I like the east coast or I like the west coast, or south or north, whichever place fits me the best.

BDN: Have you had a chance to make any visits or do you have any visits planned?

Definitely I have plans for visits. I’m trying to go up to Washington for their spring game and get out to Arizona State for their spring game. I went to a camp at UCLA and that campus was beautiful. I’ve been to San Diego State, competed at a couple tournaments there, and I’ve been at USC. All these schools are beautiful and nice, but I’ve just got to find my place.

BDN: Do you have any plans for east coast visits?

Yeah, they can be expensive, so I’m planning on my east coast visits for officials.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your final decision or how you would like to narrow your list down?

I’ll probably make a decision before the new year, definitely. I want it to be set in stone so I won’t have to worry about where I’m going to college. I just want to try and get out to as many schools as I can. I want to get it done before the new year, definitely.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

About me personally, I work really hard, I’ve been competing very well, you have to work all year. Football in the summer,  getting up at 6:15 for football in the morning and then doing it again in the afternoon, it’s just a grind, but it’s finally paying off for me with these offers. I just have to put the work in to be successful.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jonavaughn, and best of luck to you.

Thank you, sir.

 

WR Blair Holliday is "100% on Duke"

Oaks Christian WR Blair Holliday is “100% on Duke”

WR Blair Holliday is "100% on Duke"

As signing day approaches, Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff are looking to hold onto each of their 20 current verbal commitments and hoping to add another impact player or two to the class of 2011. This past weekend, the Blue Devils hosted four of their current verbal commitments in Lucas Patrick, Blair Holliday, David Helton, and Jamison Crowder. BDN checked in with the visitors to get their thoughts on the visit to Durham and the Duke program.

In recent years, Duke has had a lot of success in recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. Current wide receivers coach Matt Lubick hopes to continue that trend, and secured a commitment back in August from Blair Holliday, a 6’3” wide receiver from Westlake Village, California. We last spoke with Blair just before his California sectional championship game in early December, and since that time, several PAC-10 programs have come calling, including UCLA.

BDN: I think since we last talked you played in a pretty exciting football game. Can you tell us a little about the game and the wild finish?

I guess it just lived up to all the hype. With them [Westlake] being so close, with them beating us the first game, the bragging rights that they thought that they had, and we got that redemption to play them again a second time for the championship. We were fired up and I’ll probably say that was the most exciting game of my life, biggest play I’ve ever made, biggest thing I’ve ever really done in my life was making that play. It was actually supposed to be a pass, but our guy was covered up so I just decided to take off and run it, and I got in. I guess the rest is history.

BDN: Can you talk a little bit about how your official visit went to Duke and let us hear your thoughts on your trip to Durham?

It was great. Like I said, when I first went there I felt like I belonged there and like it was home. That was just from – I wouldn’t say an outsider’s perspective on the school, but that’s the closest thing I can say to it. But going there and taking the official, meeting the guys on the team, going out with them – it just clicked that that was where I needed to be. I found the guy I want to room with when I go out there. It was a really great time, like I said, I talked to the guys, told me how it is being there, how practices go, how school life goes, just how everything goes. I just felt like I fit perfectly in that situation, that place, that environment.

BDN: Who were some of the players that you were able to spend time with?

My host was Brandon Braxton. I don’t know many of the last names. Dezmond Johnson, I hung out with him. Again I don’t know last names, but I remember Isaac [Blakeney], Braxton [Deaver], and a lot of different guys. When I was there, David Helton was on the trip too and we hung out. He’s a fun guy so we talked about rooming and by the end of the trip we felt like we wanted to room together when school started or when we get out there and practice started.

BDN: I know some other schools have been recruiting you and with signing day coming up, can you clarify what your plans are?

I’m 100% on Duke. As soon as the letter is sent, I’ll be signing it.

BDN: That’s great. I really appreciate your call and getting to catch up with you. Best of luck with basketball season and the rest of your senior year.

Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

Blair’s game-winning two-point conversion in the final minute of the championship game was awarded the 2010 Play of the Year by calihighsports.com.

Click here for a recap of the play.

Click here for a video highlight of the championship game.

BDN Checks In with Duke WR commit Blair Holliday

In recent years, Duke has had a lot of success in recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. Current wide receivers coach Matt Lubick hopes to continue that trend, and secured a commitment back in August from Blair Holliday, a 6’3” wide receiver from Westlake Village, California. With a great frame and a breakout senior season, Blair looks like he will become another great receiving weapon for the Duke offense. Blue Devil Nation checked in with Blair just before Coach Lubick watched Blair play in his California sectional championship game.

BDN: It looks like Oaks Christian has had a very good year; can you give us a quick recap of your season so far and update on what’s new with you?
Actually, tonight we’re in the CIF sectional championship game at home, so I’m excited for the game tonight. I think Coach Lubick is going to be out here, the wide receivers coach there at Duke, is coming. Last week, Coach Roper was over at my house for an in-house visit and then January 15 – that weekend – I’m taking my official visit out to Durham. I mean, my senior season has been going great – better than I expected. A lot of people didn’t think we’d get to the point that we are now, being in a tougher league, losing the guys that we did last year. But we’re in the CIF championship tonight and hopefully we’ll come away with the W.

BDN: Can you talk a little about your visit with Coach Roper and where the coaches think you fit with the Duke program?
Basically, when Coach Roper came over, he explained to me the offense and how it functions. They run the – I forget what exactly the technical term is – but they run a slot receiver and two outside receivers. He said that when I come in, he’ll want me to learn both slot and outside receiver. He explained to me the breakdown that basically the X gets most of the balls in their offense and that at Duke since they do thrown the ball a lot their rotations with the wide receivers – there’s a lot of rotations. Basically he was hoping I could come in and get some playing time as a freshman, next year. Like I said, he told me that since the receivers usually get a majority of the balls, there’s a lot of – I’m not going to say injuries, but their wide receivers are beat up, so rotations are continuous in their system.

BDN: How much follow have you been able to follow Duke and what are your thoughts on the program?
I wasn’t really able to watch many games, it was difficult for me to find them, but I’d watch the Sportscenter recap or ESPN mobile scores on my phone. I saw a lot of games where they lost by a touchdown or it came down to a couple plays, which just shows me that the little things that lost them some close games – those things can be fixed. I’ve been looking at the recruiting class, the commits that have committed to Duke and it seems like they’re bringing in some real good quality guys. The future is bright and with the guys that they’re bringing in ,w hich I’ll be meeting a few in a couple weeks when I go out there. It looks like our future is promising.

BDN: You’ve got the championship game tonight, but what’s next for you?

The championship game tonight, then I start basketball season. During basketball season I’m just going to focus on weight lifting, maybe some speed training on the side. Little things that will get me in shape and will get me ready for when I get out there in July and start my college career.

BDN: Thanks, Blair. Good luck tonight.
Thanks a lot.

Oaks Christian defeated Westlake 29-28 to win their CIF championship and finish at 12-2. Blair scored the game winning 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter, while also hauling in 6 passes for 79 yards. UCLA and Colorado have recently expressed interest in Holliday, but Blair confirmed  to BDN that his only scheduled official visit will be to Duke in January. We will check back in with Blair after his official visit, as signing day approaches.

Duke Football lands sure handed wideout Blair Holliday

Blair HollidayCoach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devil football program received another commitment for the class of 2011 on Monday evening from Blair Holliday, a 6’3” wide receiver from Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, California. BDN caught up with the sure-handed receiver shortly after his commitment.

“My interest in Duke was based on the academics, I mean, Duke is one of the most prestigious colleges in the country academically. That’s what drew me to it first,” Holliday explained, “but then when I went for my visit, I just loved the family atmosphere. Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Lubick and the whole staff are such a family – I knew that coming from California to North Carolina, that would be hard and I would need that kind of family atmosphere. That’s when I knew it was for me.”

Prior to his commitment to Duke, Holliday had received offers from Boise State, Cal Poly, Colorado State, Northern Arizona, and San Diego State, and also had interest from Boston College, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, and UCLA, Utah, and Washington. In his junior season, Holliday hauled in 48 catches for 857 yards, including 8 touchdowns and a 17.5 yards per catch average. Highlights from his junior year can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nug31hJ-IU4.

Blair continued to elaborate on his decision to attend Duke: “Coach Cutcliffe and the staff have really turned the program around, they’re only getting better and better. One of their receivers last year was a freshman All-American [Conner Vernon], and as a receiver that gets you excited. They told me, ‘we love to throw the ball,’ and that’s why their receivers can have such success.“

In closing, Blair wanted the Blue Devil Nation to know the following: “I’m excited to be a Blue Devil. Whatever they need me to do for the team to be successful, I’ll do it. That’s how you win as a team.”