Tag Archives: Donovan Varner

Duke’s Donovan Varner named to All ACC team

GREENSBORO, N.C. – North Carolina led all Atlantic Coast Conference schools with five players selected to the 2010 Preseason All-ACC Football team in voting conducted by the media at the annual ACC Football Kickoff, which was held July 25-26 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.
The Preseason All-ACC team was announced Wednesday.

In all, 20 of the 23 honorees on the team earned first or second-team All-ACC honors last fall, with 16 having been selected to the All-ACC first team. The three remaining players who were voted onto the 2010 preseason team were Honorable Mention All-ACC last year.

North Carolina’s defense, which finished sixth nationally last year in total defense, had all five of the UNC players selected to the preseason All-ACC squad in defensive end Robert Quinn (Ladson, S.C.), defensive tackle Marvin Austin (Washington, D.C.), linebacker Quan Sturdivant (Oakboro, N.C.), cornerback Kendric Burney (Jacksonville, N.C.) and safety Deunta Williams (Jacksonville, N.C.). 
Boston College was next with four players chosen in tailback Montel Harris (Jacksonville, Fla.), offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (Hawthorn Woods, Ill.), offensive guard Thomas Claiborne (Randolph, Mass.) and linebacker Luke Kuechly (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Clemson and Miami each had three players honored, followed by Maryland and Florida State with two and Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia Tech with one each.
Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel (Tallahassee, Fla.) garnered the most votes, being named on 48 of the 52 ballots while North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn (47 votes) and Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams (45) were the next highest.

Though Florida State had just two players chosen, they were quarterback Christian Ponder (Colleyville, Tex.), the media pick for ACC Preseason Player of the Year, and offensive guard Rodney Hudson (Mobile, Ala.), who is seeking to become only the seventh player in ACC history--and only the fourth position player--to be selected to the All-ACC Football Team for four consecutive seasons. Hudson was a second-team All-ACC choice as a freshman in 2007 and earned first-team honors in 2008 and 2009.
Miami’s Matt Bosher (Jupiter, Fla.), who earned first-team All-ACC honors as a placekicker and second team as a punter last year, was named to the preseason team at both positions.

Maryland’s Torrey Smith (Colonial Beach, Va.), who set ACC single-season kickoff return yardage records in each of the last two seasons, was also named to the preseason team at two positions—specialist and wide receiver. Smith was a second-team All-ACC choice at both positions last year.
Those who were chosen first-team All-ACC last fall included Robert Quinn, Quan Sturdivant, Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams of North Carolina; Allen Bailey, Matt Bosher and Brandon Harris of Miami; Anthony Castonzo and Luke Kuechly of Boston College; DeAndre McDaniel of Clemson, Donovan Varner of Duke, Rodney Hudson of Florida State, Sean Bedford of Georgia Tech, Alex Wujciak of Maryland, George Bryan of NC State and Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech.

Boston College’s Montel Harris, Clemson’s Chris Hairston, Maryland’s Torrey Smith, Miami’s Matt Bosher and North Carolina’s Marvin Austin were selected to the 2009 All-ACC second team, while Boston College’s Thomas Claiborne, Clemson’s Jarvis Jenkins and Florida State’s Christian Ponder were honorable mention All-ACC last fall.
Ten of the ACC’s 12 teams were represented on the team, and a total of 52 ballots were cast at the Kickoff for the preseason all-conference football team.
2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Preseason Team                                         
Pos. Name (Votes)                                          Ht      Wt       Class             Hometown
WR  Donovan Varner, Duke (27)                    5-9     170      Junior            Miami, Fla.                             
WR  Torrey Smith, Maryland (19)                   6-1     200      Junior            Colonial Beach, Va.                            
TE    George Bryan, NC State (21)                   6-5     265      Junior            Castle Hayne, N.C.
T      Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (43)  6-7     295      Senior            Hawthorn Woods, Ill.                         
T      Chris Hairston, Clemson (21)                  6-7     325      Senior            Winston-Salem, N.C.
G     Rodney Hudson, Florida State (43)          6-2     282      Senior            Mobile, Ala.                                        
G     Thomas Claiborne, Boston College (21)  6-3     325      Senior            Randolph, Mass.
C      Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech (25)            6-1     274      Senior            Gainesville, Fla.
QB   Christian Ponder, Florida State (35)         6-3     227      Senior            Colleyville, Tex.
RB   Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech (45)          5-10   211      Sophomore    Manassas, Va.
RB   Montel Harris, Boston College (30)         5-10   200      Junior            Jacksonville, Fla.
Pos. Name (Votes)                                          Ht      Wt       Class             Hometown                 
DE   Robert Quinn, North Carolina (47)          6-5     270      Junior            Ladson, S.C.
DE   Allen Bailey, Miami (31)                         6-4     288      Senior            Sapelo, Ga.
DT   Marvin Austin, North Carolina (32)         6-3     305      Senior            Washington, D.C.
DT   Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson (27)                   6-4     310      Senior            Clemson, S.C.
LB   Alex Wujciak, Maryland (34)                  6-3     245      Senior            West Caldwell, N.J.
LB   Quan Sturdivant,    North Carolina (32)   6-2     235      Senior            Oakboro, N.C.
LB   Luke Kuechly, Boston College (25)         6-3     225      Sophomore    Cincinnati, Ohio
CB   Kendric Burney, North Carolina (27)      5-9     190      Senior            Jacksonville, N.C.
CB   Brandon Harris, Miami (26)                     5-11   195      Junior            Miami, Fla.
S      DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (48)          6-1     215      Senior            Tallahassee, Fla.
S      Deunta Williams, North Carolina (41)     6-2     210      Senior            Jacksonville, N.C.
Pos. Name (Votes)                                          Ht      Wt       Class             Hometown
PK   Matt Bosher, Miami (32)                          6-0     205      Senior            Jupiter, Fla.
P      Matt Bosher, Miami (20)                          6-0     205      Senior            Jupiter, Fla.
SP    Torrey Smith, Maryland (24)                   6-1     210      Junior            Colonial Beach, Va.

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.

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 looking for a playmaker at wide reciever

Johnny Williams has yet to find the end zone, but will be a go to guy for Duke this season.
Johnny Williams has yet to find the end zone in his career, but will be a go to guy for Duke this season.

The Duke Blue Devils kick off their second season under Coach David Cutcliffe when Richmond visits Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday evening at 7:00.  Duke will look to build on last season's four wins, but to do so will require that playmakers step up at the wide out positions.  Last season the Blue Devils leaned on Eron Riley's steady hands, but his departure opens up a huge void.

One of the players that is expected to fill the void is sophomore Johnny Williams [30 receptions, 327 yards], a speedy wideout .  Williams got his chance last season starting as a true freshman, but despite decent numbers, he didn't taste the end zone a single time.

Williams has been lauded by senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and is the odds on favorite to become the go to guy, but Duke's offense will most certainly spread the ball around to a solid group of tight ends and running backs.

He will be flanked by another speedster in undersized Donovan Varner.

Varner stands just under 5-9 but he has shown the ability to get open.  Varner caught 22 passes for 164 yards in his first season and he is slated to be the starter on Saturday.

The veteran of the group is junior Austin Kelly [11.7 yards per catch for career] who at 6-2 offers a solid target.  Kelly could be a guy Duke looks to as a possession reciever, which best suits his skill set.

Two true freshman have earned the backup spots to Williams and Varner but there is a good chance one of these kids will make their way into the starting line up by mid season.

Conner Vernon [6-0, 185 freshman] has shined in pre season practices showing that he has consistent hands on the team.  Vernon, a teammate of Varner's at Gulliver Prep in Miami, FL looks like he'll get a lot of time right out of the gate.  Vernon has earned the praise of Cutcliffe for good reason and he'll have a bright future in Durham.

Another freshman, Tyree Watkins [6-1, 195] will see his share of time alongside Vernon.  Watkins is a speedy four year letterman from Camden, New Jersey where he earned the ranking of the 15th best prospect in the Garden State from Rivals.  Like Vernon, Watkins has had his moments in the pre season.

There are other wide outs that'll get some looks, but the aforementioned players will get an opportunity to feel the large gap left by Eron Riley.  So, come Saturday, a lot of eyes will be on Scottie Mongomery's [Duke WR Coach] young men.  With the top four players on the depth chart being true freshman and sophomores there will be a lot of growing up to do on the field, but maybe there is a playmaker in the bunch ready to break out.

Stay tuned to BDN for game week and game day coverage.