Tag Archives: Conner Vernon

Conner Vernon named to TSN Freshman All American Team

Conner Vernon - BDN Photo
Conner Vernon - BDN Photo

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon has been named to the Freshman All-America team by Sporting News, announced on Wednesday by the national publication.

In addition, Vernon was joined by teammates Brian Moore and Desmond Scott on the Sporting News Freshman All-ACC squad.

A 6-2, 195-pound native of Miami, Fla., Vernon established school single-season records for pass receptions (55), receiving yards (746) and 100-yard receiving game (3) by a freshman in 2009.  In addition, his 13.5 yards per catch average ranks as the sixth-highest by a Duke rookie and his three touchdown receptions matched the school’s fourth-best single-season output for freshmen.  Vernon’s 1,041 all-purpose yards rank as the fourth-best single-season performance by a Duke freshman.

Moore, a 6-3, 275-pound offensive guard from Coral Gables, Fla., started all 12 games at right guard in 2009, helping the Blue Devils lead the ACC and rank ninth in the nation in passing offense (305.0 ypg).  Moore helped the Duke offensive line rank third in the conference in sacks allowed per passing attempt (17.89) behind only Florida State (20.65) and Clemson (19.79).

Scott, a 5-10, 185-pound running back from  Durham, N.C., earned a spot on the all-freshman unit as a specialist after returning 18 kickoffs for 452 yards, good for a 25.1 yards per return average that ranks fourth in the ACC and sits third on the school’s single-season chart for rookies.  In the season finale against Wake Forest, he returned seven kickoffs for 211 yards – the third-highest single-game total in Duke history – en route to setting a new school single-game record for all-purpose yards (259) by a freshman.

Vernon is the 10th Duke rookie to earn Freshman All-America honors from Sporting News since 2000, joining Ryan Fowler (LB/3rd team/2000), Jim Scharrer (LB/4th team/2001), Ben Patrick (TE/3rd team/2003), Chris Davis (KR/3rd team/2004), Michael Tauiliili (LB/1st team/2005), Zack Asack (QB/HM/2005), Vince Oghobaase (DT/HM/2006), Thaddeus Lewis (QB/HM/2006), Kevin Jones (P/HM/2007) and Kyle Hill (OG/2nd team/2008).


QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
RB Dion Lewis, Pitt
RB  Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
WR Eric Page, Toledo
WR Conner Vernon, Duke
TE Orson Charles, Georgia
OL Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas
OL Barrett Jones, Alabama
OL Peter Konz, Wisconsin
OL David DeCastro, Stanford
OL Aaron Douglas, Tennessee
K Matt Hogan, Houston
KR  Warren Norman, Vanderbilt

DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
DT Larry Black, Indiana
DE Nick Perry, USC
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
LB Brian Wagner, Akron
CB Corey Broomfield, Mississippi State
CB Josh Robinson, UCF
S Rashard Hall, Clemson
S Gerald Moore, Ohio
P Tress Way, Oklahoma
PR Greg Reid, Florida State

National Freshman of the year: Dion Lewis, Pitt



QB Kyle Parker, Clemson
RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
RB Montel Harris, Boston College
WR Conner Vernon, Duke
WR Erik Highsmith, North Carolina
TE Chris Pantale, Boston College
OL Brian Moore, Duke
OL Phil Smith, Georgia Tech
OL Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
OL Dalton Freeman, Clemson
OL Michael Via, Virginia Tech
K Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
KR Desmond Scott, Duke

DL Antoine Hopkins, Virginia Tech
DL Jacobbi McDaniel, Florida State
DL A.J. Francis, Maryland
DL T.J. Barnes, Georgia Tech
LB Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
LB Steve Greer, Virginia
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
DB Greg Reid, Florida State
DB Kenny Okoro, Wake Forest
DB Rashard Hall, Clemson
DB Brandan Bishop N.C. State
P Nick Ferrara, Maryland
PR Greg Reid, Florida State

ACC Freshman of the Year: Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

BDN Game Day Preview – Duke at Miami

dscott 33BDN previews Saturday’s matchup as Thad Lewis and the Blue Devils travel to Miami to face the #20 Hurricanes. The game will kickoff at noon ET on ESPNU.

Scouting the Blue Devils (5-5, 3-3 ACC)

Last time out

Duke was defeated by Georgia Tech at Wallace Wade Stadium, 49-10. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, the Yellow Jackets dominated the remaining three-plus quarters, scoring 49 unanswered points.

Duke’s touchdown came on their first possession, as Thad Lewis found RB Re’quan Boyette for an 18 yard score. The Duke defense also came out fired up, forcing a three and out on Georgia Tech’s first possession, and a fumbled punt on Georgia Tech’s second possession, which handed the ball to the offense at the Georgia Tech 14 yard line. Will Snyderwine, returning after missing the previous game with an injury, connected on a 31-yard field goal to put the Blue Devils up 10-0.

From that point on, it was all Georgia Tech, as the Blue Devil defense continually gave up big plays, while the offense struggled to move the ball downfield. In fact, Duke’s leading receivers on the day were RB Re’quan Boyette and RB Desmond Scott, as the dynamic receiving corps of Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, and Austin Kelly totaled just 7 catches and 75 yards combined. After a promising start, the Duke defense gave up a total of 519 yards to the Yellow Jackets, including 7 plays of greater than 20 yards.


The Duke offense is led by senior QB Thad Lewis, who ranks third in the ACC with 264 passing yards per game and 16 TDs. Lewis was recently named as one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Award, which is presented to the nation’s top senior quarterback. The four-year starter has been instrumental to the program’s resurgence, etching his name in the Duke and ACC record books as one of the most prolific passers in conference history. Lewis is now just 240 passing yards shy of the Duke career record of 9,614 yards, currently held by Ben Bennett. Duke’s receiving corps of freshman Conner Vernon, sophomore Donovan Varner, and junior Austin Kelly all rank in the top 10 in the ACC in receiving. The Blue Devils have struggled to run the ball all season long, ranking last in the FBS at just 63.9 yards per game.

Defensive Coordinator Mike MacIntyre was recently named National Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association, and with good reason. The Duke defense has steadily improved under MacIntyre’s leadership, despite an overall lack of size and depth. The Duke defense ranks 6th in the ACC in total defense, and has also forced 16 turnovers on the season. The defense has sealed several of Duke’s victories with key defensive stops and forced turnovers late in games.

Duke’s special teams unit continues to improve, converting 14/18 field goals and a perfect 28/28 extra points. The return game has also set up good field position for the offense in recent weeks, though lead returner Johnny Williams is expected to miss this week’s matchup with Miami.

Scouting the Hurricanes (7-3, 4-3 ACC)

Last time out

Miami fell to a resurgent North Carolina team in Chapel Hill last Saturday, 33-24. QB Jacory Harris threw for 319 yards and a career-high 4 interceptions in the loss. North Carolina’s Kendric Burney set a single-game ACC record with 180 interception return yards, including a 77-yard TD.

The Miami offense moved the ball effectively against the ACC’s top defense, totaling 435 yards and 3 touchdowns, including runs by RB Graig Cooper and Damien Berry. The defense also performed well, holding North Carolina’s rushing attack to 3.6 yards per carry and no touchdowns. The turnovers proved to be too much to overcome, however, resulting in 17 points for the Tar Heels.


While this is not the dominant Miami program of the past two decades, Randy Shannon has begun to bring in the coaches and athletes necessary to return the program to the nation’s elite. Facing one of the toughest schedules in the country, including their first four games against nationally-ranked opponents, the Hurricanes boast a 7-3 record, including wins against Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma.

The Hurricanes rank 4th in the ACC in total offense and 5th in the ACC in total defense. QB Jacory Harris received national attention for his early season success, but has cooled as the season progressed, having now thrown 16 interceptions on the year to go along with 19 touchdowns. His offensive line has also allowed 28 sacks, ranking ahead of only Maryland and Virginia in the conference. An elite receiver has yet to emerge for Harris, although Leonard Hankerson does rank 9th in the conference at 60.0 receiving yards per game. RB Graig Cooper ranks 4th in the ACC in all purpose yards with 128.0 yards per game.

The Miami defense, despite its ranking, has forced only 14 turnovers and 19 sacks, both of which rank in the bottom four of the conference. The Hurricanes are also the second most penalized team in the ACC, averaging almost 8 penalties and 60 penalty yards per game. The defense particularly struggled in a 28-27 victory over Wake Forest, in which senior QB Riley Skinner was able to throw for 408 yards against the Miami secondary.


The Blue Devils injury report has grown considerably over the past two weeks, as a result of the long season and two particularly physical contests against UNC and Georgia Tech. Last week, the Blue Devils lost 2nd string QB Sean Renfree for the remainder of the season with an ACL tear. The week before, starting OG Mitchell Lederman was lost for the year with a broken toe. In addition, Duke expects to be without standout DT Vince Oghobaase, WR and lead kick returner Johnny Williams, and senior RB Re’quan Boyette. Several other key players appear on this week’s injury report, including QB Thad Lewis, WR Austin Kelly, K Will Snyderwine, LB Abraham Kromah, and LB Vincent Rey, but all are expected to suit up on Saturday.

The injury report for the Hurricanes, on the other hand, brings some good news, as Miami expects to have two key players back on defense for the first time in the last three weeks. LB Sean Spence and S Ray Ray Armstrong both practiced this week and should be available to play on Saturday. QB Jacory Harris injured his thumb during last week’s loss to North Carolina, but practiced as usual on Wednesday and is expected to play on Saturday. The Hurricanes will be without explosive punt returner Thearon Collier, who sprained his ankle in practice earlier this week. Travis Benjamin will likely field the returns in his absence.

Closing Thoughts

A win for the Blue Devils will bring them one win away from bowl eligibility, a feat the program has not accomplished since 1994. A Blue Devil victory would snap the program’s 39-game losing streak against nationally-ranked opponents, along with a five-game losing streak to Miami. The Blue Devils last win against Miami came in 1976.

Last year at Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke held a 24-14 third quarter lead against Miami, before Jacory Harris took over, leading the Hurricanes to a 49-31 victory. In the second half, Duke’s lack of depth and Miami’s superior talent took center stage. Duke has taken the first steps in closing the talent gap, bringing in players like WR Conner Vernon and RB Desmond Scott in the freshman class; however, Miami is a more experienced team this year and will be playing in front of their home crowd.

After two straight losses, it’s a must-win game for Duke, and a great opportunity for the program to upset one of the nation’s top programs. Duke’s Thad Lewis, Conner Vernon, and Donovan Varner all hail from the Miami area, and the trio would like nothing better than to celebrate their homecoming with a victory. At this stage in the program’s development, however, Duke might need help from Miami to win in Land Shark Stadium Saturday. The Hurricanes simply have the superior athletes and an established culture of winning. However, Miami has been prone to penalties and turnovers this season, which could provide the Blue Devils with opportunities to stay in the game and pull off the improbable upset.

BDN Audio – Standout freshman wideout Conner Vernon opens up to the media

Duke freshman Conner Vernon is having a heck of rookie season
Duke freshman Conner Vernon is having a heck of rookie season

Durham, N.C. - It's not that often that a freshman can step on the football field and produce record numbers in their first season.  Conner Vernon is an exception.  Coming off another great performance against Virginia where he caught a key touchdown pass, Vernon addressed the media for the first time this season during Duke's weekly press conference.

Vernon leads the ACC in catches and is third in yards per game, but let's not forget that he is third in the league in touchdown receptions as well.  There is more - Conner is the second leading reciever in the NCAA among freshman in both receptions and yards per game.  Want more?  Vernon already has the most receptions of any Duke freshman in history, he's 16 yards away from passing Walter Jones [ex New England Patriot] and his 128 yard game versus Virginia Tech is the fourth most yards of any true freshman.

Vernon talked of how he ended up at Duke, the upcoming UNC game and handling expectations just an hour ago and you can hear his comments for yourself thanks to BDN Audio.  It's worth noting that Cutcliffe said he has never coached a freshman that put up these kind of numbers and said Vernon could well make some All ACC teams based on performance.  Enjoy the chat -

Duke defeats Virginia 28-17

DukeDuke utilized a clutch fourth quarter performance to defeat Virginia 28-17, on the road, in Charlottesville, to improve to 5-3 (3-1 ACC) on the season. The victory was the third straight conference victory for the Blue Devils. Duke scored the games final 16 points to comeback from a 17-12 deficit.

Duke dominated first quarter action by limiting the Cavaliers to 1 yard total offense. However, Virginia's defense bent but didn't break by limiting Duke to two field goals. Will Snyderwine kicked a third field goal five seconds into the second quarter to expand Duke's lead to 9-0.

Virginia managed a field goal in the second quarter and then took the second half kickoff and marched 66 yards in eight plays for a touchdown and a 10-9 lead. There were no additional points scored in the third quarter.

After three low scoring quarters, the two teams exploded for 26 points in the final stanza with Duke outscoring Virginia 19-7 for the victory. Thaddeus Lewis threw a 42 yard touchdown pass to Conner Vernon and Charlie Hatcher returned a Jameel Sewell fumble seven yards for another score. The fumble was forced by defensive lineman Ayanga Okpokowuruk. Will Snyderwine added his fourth and fifth field goals of the game.

Thaddeus Lewis completed 24-40 passes for 343 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Lewis has now thrown for 9,050 yards in his career and has passed Spence Fisher to move into second place all time behind Ben Bennett.

Donovan Varner (113 yards) and Conner Vernon (103 yards) each had seven receptions to pace seven Duke receivers. Varner and Vernon both recorded over 100 yards receiving for the second consecutive game.

On the defensive side of the ball, Leon Wright recorded his fourth interception of the season, while Vincent Rey led the team with 10 tackles. Jeremy Ringfield and Vince Oghobaase each recorded a sack.

Duke Football Injury Update – Vernon doubful for Kansas

Hollingsworth (left) is questionable while Boyette (right) is probable - Photo BDN
Hollingsworth (left) is questionable while Boyette (right) is probable - Photo BDN

Duke Football Injury Report

Duke at Kansas -- September 19

RB Re'quan Boyette (ankle) -- Probable
TE Danny Parker (ankle) -- Probable

RB Jay Hollingsworth (ankle) -- Questionable
DT Vince Oghobaase (leg) -- Questionable

WR Conner Vernon (ankle) -- Doubtful

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT
CB Randez James (hand) -- OUT

S Anthony Young-Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

Cutcliffe pleased with Saturday Scrimmage

Hollingsworth and Boyette chat before Saturday's scrimmage - BDN Photo
Hollingsworth and Boyette chat before Saturday's scrimmage - BDN Photo

DURHAM, N.C. -- Quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis, Sean Renfree and Sean Schroeder combined to complete 23-of-39 passes for 231 yards to highlight Duke's 60-play scrimmage on Saturday morning at the Brooks Practice Field on campus.

"We did a lot of good things out there today," Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe said following the session.  "Of course I am anxious to see the tape, but I thought we had some guys make plays on both sides of the ball.  We were able to get the young players a lot of work as we continue to evaluate their status."
Lewis, a three-year starter and second team All-ACC choice a year ago, hit on nine-of-18 throws for 96 yards while Renfree, a redshirt freshman, was 11-of-18 through the air for 120 yards including a 17-yard touchdown strike to freshman wide receiver Conner Vernon.
Vernon and fellow rookie Tyree Watkins led the receiving unit with four receptions apiece for 44 and 43 yards, respectively.

Renfree finds Vernon
Renfree finds Vernon

Sophomore Johnny Williams added three grabs for 30 yards.  On the ground, redshirt freshman Patrick Kurunwune had five attempts for 24 yards while freshman Desmond Scott carried the ball eight times for 20 yards.

Redshirt senior Re'quan Boyette, Duke's leading rusher in both 2006 and 2007 who missed last year due to injury, had five rushes for 15 yards including a one-yard touchdown.
Defensively, redshirt junior defensive end Jeremy Ringfield posted one interception and one quarterback sack while senior linebacker Vincent Rey and sophomore safety Matt Daniels each registered one tackle for loss.
Duke opens the 2009 season at home against Richmond on September 5.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.GoDuke.com or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 1-877-375-DUKE.
Rushing: Patrick Kurunwune 5-24; Desmond Scott 8-20; Re'quan Boyette 5-15
Passing: Sean Renfree 11-18, 120 yards, 1 TD; Thaddeus Lewis 9-18, 96 yards, 1 INT
Receiving: Conner Vernon 4-44; Tyree Watkins 4-43; Johnny Williams 3-30; Danny Parker 2-52; Austin Kelly 2-11; Desmond Scott 2-11
Re'quan Boyette 1 run (Will Snyderwine kick)
Paul Asack 41 FG
Conner Vernon 17 pass from Sean Renfree (Will Snyderwine kick)