Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Most Important Player: Duke
By Matt Fortuna
Our series continues today with the Blue Devils -- another team with experience at the quarterback position, and a team that will likely use up to three in games this coming season. That's OK, we like the challenge of finding someone else. (In this case, we don't have to look too far.)
For a complete recap of the series, click here.
Duke: WR Conner Vernon
2011 stats: Vernon caught 70 passes for 965 yards and five touchdowns, making him the only player in ACC history with multiple 70-catch seasons (he caught 73 passes for 973 yards in 2010). The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Miami native has recorded 900-plus receiving yards in consecutive seasons after a 746-yard freshman campaign in 2009.
What he means to the Blue Devils: Coach David Cutcliffe has said that good won't be good enough against this year's challenging schedule, adding that Duke will need playmakers if it wants to be above-average. His team has one in Vernon. An ankle injury sidelined the receiver this spring, but he should be full-go come the fall, and that's good news for the Blue Devils, who are looking to break through and reach a bowl game for the first time since the 1994 season, the longest current drought among FBS schools. Vernon enters his senior year 34 catches shy of the ACC career record for catches, which is held by Clemson's Aaron Kelly (232 from 2005-08). His 2,675 career receiving yards are 842 shy of matching FSU's Peter Warrick's ACC record (3,517, 1996-99). With a quarterback with two years of starting experience under his belt in Sean Renfree, Vernon should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays.