Hidden Gem WR Conner Vernon Hiding at Duke?


As I attempt to survive the twister going through my head as I file through Phil Steele’s 2012 College Football Preview (available at most stores right now), I started by looking at his top players (draft eligible) by position in college football this year, and I found an interesting name on the wide receiver list that might catch your eyes as well.

Listed at number eight overall on the draft eligible wide receiver list is Duke’s Conner Vernon, and of course I’d be intrigued by that because when does Duke ever have a good football team?

Vernon is a senior out of Miami, Florida who was a 2nd team All-ACC performer last year in a conference that includes some pretty good wide receivers, and he’s gotten consistently better as his collegiate career has progressed. He’s been a playmaker for Duke ever since he stepped on campus, catching 55 passes as a true freshman and then following that up with 73 and 70 in the following two campaigns.

I watched a highlight clip of Vernon from his sophomore season at Duke and he has excellent body control and is a big play threat every time he touches the ball. According to his bio on Duke’s athletic site, he is one of the top performers in the weight room and agility drills.

Of course, Steele’s pre-season position rankings hardly ever line up directly with the draft, and just as I suspected, NFL Draft Scout currently has Vernon rated as the 25th best receiver in the 2013 class. That doesn’t mean, though, that he can’t break out as a senior and prove he is a great athlete at the combine. Having an education from Duke is going to get you recognized by NFL teams as it is, but to be a productive player for four straight years with no injury history to speak of could really propel this guy up the boards.

I’m definitely intrigued by him, and hopefully he can help Duke win some ball games in 2012 to get that fan base excited about a football program that also features a draftable quarterback prospect in Sean Renfree.