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Former Gulliver WR has found a home at Duke

Conner Vernon spent many Saturdays playing catch in front of the Orange Bowl, dreaming about one day becoming the next great Hurricanes receiver. Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Roscoe Parrish, Vernon not only has all of their jerseys, but all of their famous catches entrenched in his memory.

Conner Vernon is among the ACC's leaders in receiving as a freshman "You know those kids who would play catch in the parking lot and hit cars with the ball by accident -- that was me," Vernon said. "I went to a lot of games from about age seven to 13, a lot of good ones. My favorite was the comeback against Florida. I remember when Devin Hester took the kickoff back for a touchdown. That's probably my greatest memory. The OB was rocking that night."

Vernon (6-2, 192) hasn't outgrown his love for the Canes. He still roots for them plenty. But he won't be throwing up any U's this week when he and the rest of Duke's Miami Connection -- quarterback Thaddeus Lewis (226-364, 2,640 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs) and receiver Donovan Varner (46 catches, 708 yards, 5 TDs) -- come to Land Shark Stadium Saturday. 

The Blue Devils (5-5, 3-3 ACC) need to win their final two games -- at UM (7-3, 4-3 ACC) and at home against Wake Forest -- to become bowl eligible. And Vernon, who has become one of the top freshman wide receivers in the country (44 catches, 601 yards, 3 TDs), is hoping Lewis and the rest of Duke's seniors finally get a taste of the bowl season. 

"We're real hungry," Vernon said. "You have these seniors who have never been to a bowl game and they know it comes down to these last two games for us to make it happen. We're going put it all one the line."

Vernon never imagined he'd be involved in a game like this because he never really imagined himself playing college football. Growing up as the son of Key Biscayne mayor Rober Vernon, Conner said he didn't get involved in organized ball until he was in eighth grade at Gulliver Prep in Miami,  the same school that produced former Canes great and the late Sean Taylor.

"I always loved the game, but even when I got to high school I saw how hard it was and I thought there is no way I'd be good at this," Vernon said. "It wasn't until my junior year that I even really started thinking I might be able to play at the next level. But really, I always just played for the love of the game."  

Thaddeus Lewis His love turned into a passion. By the time he was finished his senior year, he put up receiving numbers second only to Aldarius Johnson in Miami-Dade County history. He caught 60 passes for 1,163 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior year and helped Gulliver reach the Class 2A state title game while being named to the All-Dade Class 3A-1A First Team.

Despite his success even as a junior and the spring before his senior year when he helped lead Gulliver to a third place finish in California at the Adidas 7-on-7 national tournament (Pahokee won), Vernon wasn't very highly regarded. He was ranked as a three-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout.com and tabbed as the 148th best receiver in the Class of 2009 by ESPN.com. 

It wasn't just the Canes (who signed seven receivers in 2008 and didn't bring in any last year) who missed the boat on Vernon. So did most of the country. Wake Forest, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Troy were the only other schools to extend him a scholarship offer.

"[UM defensive assistant] coach [Michael] Barrow was at our spring game and I had a pretty good spring game," Vernon said. "He told me he thought I was a pretty good player. But UM never really recruited me. I guess I wasn't what they were looking for. But at the same time, I can't blame them. I know they didn't recruit any other receivers. They were pretty much loaded up."

Landing at Duke, a school he visited three times (twice unofficially) throughout the recruiting process, has turned out to be a perfect fit for Vernon. After arriving in Durham in May, Vernon said he went right to work with Lewis, playing catch and participating in 7-on-7 drills. The chemistry they built showed up right away in the opener against Richmond when Vernon entered in the second quarter and caught passes on his first two plays from scrimmage. 

"This is definitely a dream that has become a reality," Vernon said. "I'm surprised from the standpoint that I was able to adapt to the game so quickly. From an ability standpoint, I knew I had it in me. But the jump from high school to college, people don't realize how big it is. But playing with Thad, catching passes with Donovan, we just have this chemistry that works. We're just having a lot of fun."

Duke has the No. 1 passing offense in the ACC. There is no doubt UM's biggest weakness on defense has been it's secondary. The Canes rank seventh in pass defense in ACC. But if you look up Wake Forest, Florida State and plenty of other moments in between, you can see why Duke might be in for a big day Saturday. And although they both might be young, Vernon and Varner have plenty of experience playing against the guys in UM's secondary because they faced many of them throughout high school. And Lewis, has come awfully close to beating the Canes three times already.

"I feel like if we come out and execute, we could have a big passing game on anybody," Vernon said. "It comes down being able to execute. They're defense has had some rough days against the pass. But they really don't have one weak person in their secondary. I know because I played against those guys. I played Brandon [Harris] in a 7-on-7 tournament. Him, Davon Johnson, Thearon Collier, we beat them in that tournament.

"I played Brandon McGee too on South Florida Express team and against Jordan Futch. I know of a bunch of those guys. It's matter of us executing."

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"I feel like if we come out and execute, we could have a big passing game on anybody," Vernon said. "It comes down being able to execute. They're defense has had some rough days against the pass."

"I played Brandon [Harris] in a 7-on-7 tournament. Him, Davon Johnson, Thearon Collier, we beat them in that tournament."


Locker room bulletin board material, anyone?

Pedro and you are an illegal mexican who came here to pick tomatoes. Please go away. You have the education of a pimple onmy ---. If anyone is a loser is your pathetic excuse for DNA. Your daaddy called. He wants his giz-um back.

Now on to football. Who cares.

UM 35 Duke 10.

Manny, You forgot Guard Brian Moore in Duke's Miami connection

In the grand scheme of things Saturday's loss didn't mean a ton.
-- manny navarro

http://hurricanesports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/111609aae.html

the loss cost eyeballs …
plans to televise U v. usf in prime time …

STOPPED ON A DIME

It looks like the greasy wetback Pedro has returned

Dang it 330 pm game. Why cant these players play well at 330 ?

One more thing. UM coaches- Hill in particular- So, Conner wasn't good enough for the U? Instead you have Hankerson aka butter fingers?

One thing I don't like about that Conner boy- the corn rows. No respectable white boy can pull it off. Doesn't get my "respec".

Rather have a kid with a mohawk.

Conner Vernon is better then any WR on the entire Canes roster, period. Kid was all-dade, all-state, state championship runner-up, and the Dade offensive player of the year as a senior. And he doesnt have corn rows anymore, he had them during the recruiting process because if not for them he might not of received a single offer. Get where I'm going with that?

Those sorry ass Cane DBs better strap em up on Saturday.

@ Blue Devil Fan

ur a jabroni....wait until chavez grant D's him up....he will lock his ass down

Jaime,I dont know if you noticed but we didnt take any recievers in the 09' class...

Chavez Grant? Hahahahahahahahahah.

No Bulletin Board material here. Im a die hard canes fan...Turned a blue devil fan, at least while Vernons there.
It is very obvious to see that any good WR group as diverse as dukes, with a good QB can do work on our DB's. The Canes DB's know Vernon, and if they dont by know, they should...

ya chavez grant... eh... but brandon harris can lock him down, why does it feel we only have one cornerback? no one will throw brandon harris's way if the other corners leave their recievers wide open, it's hurting harris in terms of his playmaking ability, he can't deflect passes or get interceptions when the other corners don't do a decent cover job

Y all the name calling. Y because it hurts that someone is telling the truth that the eeeeewwwwwwwwww sucks.

The blue devils are going to put a stopimg om the ewwwwwww come saturday high noon. then maybe all of kool-aid drinking blinders wearing can't stand to here the truth will apologized to me.

DUKE 34 THE EWWWWW 10.

Bank on it!!!!

And the truth shall set us free...

Fire Randy now.
Fire Putznuzzio now.
Fire McGriff now.
Fire Stoutland now.
Fire Barrow now.
Fire Lovett now.
Fire Robinson now.
Fire Hurtt now.
Fire Swassey now.
Fire Dr. Uribe now.
Fire Sebastian now.
Fire the watrboy now.
Fire the towel boy now.
Fire the equiptment manager now.
Fire all the trainers now.
Fire the band now.
Fire the cheerleaders now.
Fire the guy who cleans the helmets now.
Fire the guy that does the laundry now.

Fire them all. They all suck!!

Keep just Whipple and Hill.

Start over.

THE EWWWWWWWW is done!!!!

Thaddues will look like an NFL HOF after saturday!!!

hope we can get pass the Mighty Blue Devils of Duke.

I predict a solid 55-10 smackdown and a sold out stadium - 70k strong.


Posted by: ACC IS STRONG | November 16, 2009 at 04:36 PM

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what r u high. The canes could not even put fifty in the stand before the debuckle now you expect 70k to come see a team lose to duke and Jascary throw 3 ints. what r u smoking, i'll take some. I rather go to the beach and fun then sit in a concrete box sweating my sack off and frustrated wacthing this chinesse firedrill of a football team.

Vote for Pedro....for the dumbest poster on manny's blog.

Randy Shannon, in his 3rd year as Head Coach, Ever, has improved this program every year.

Jacory Harris, having one of the worst games a QB can have, kept fighting until the bitter end, never showed any signs of quit. That's kind of kid I'm happy to have leading my program! He will improve and learn from his mistakes. kyle wright, kirby freeman, robert marve and brock berlin would've folded like a cheap lounge chair with that kind of performance and miami would've had no chance to comeback in that game with any of those guys under center. I have all the faith in the world that Jacory will learn from these mistakes and make himself a better QB and leader.

We are making strides:

Randy Shannon is 10-13 in conference play and 6-14 against teams with winning records.

Posted by: Suffering Miami Fan | November 16, 2009 at 02:55 PM

Damn great stats. 10-13 in ACC play. This year it should be 6 and 1. V-Tech loss fine but the others, just not good. 3 and 3 is not what this team should be in conference play. Next year at Ohio State and G-Tech plus North Carolina and V-Tech still on the schedule. Maybe 2010 is still not the year. Hope I am wrong. GOOOO! CANES!!!

Posted by: jra | November 16, 2009 at 03:12 PM


Or if not for a ball off the facemask @ FSU and a 4th. n 16 prayer @ Wake, our ACC record would be 2-5 and 8-15 overall the last 3 years.

Either way, those are not good numbers period.

And you're not wrong. It's going to get tougher the next few years than it will get easier I'm afraid.

All college football programs have rebuilding period Miami is on the way back to glory if you look around the college teams the once mighty USC is on it s down swing give them time and they will be a greate team the U ACC2010 champs

The majority of the cowards that post on here are not true fans. most of u wait for the canes to lose and post a bunch of regurgitated garbage on here. I hear u all ditch randy and praise whipple. im a whipple fan as well and he hasnt done any better with the timeouts and the playcalling. im sick and tired of seeing that same playaction go deeep to one of our wideouts every play. at least show some signs of progression. and the timeout situation is still terrible at best. at least randy is cussing folks about that refs and all. The canes are close to putting this thing together maybe if we can get a nice number of recruits to enroll in the spring again we can take another step. getting us back will not be an over night process. next year we should should expect more. at least recruits are excited again about coming back to the U. to all u fla fans on this site if u dont win i this year that will be it for you. will u come back on this site impersonating a cane fan next year when you are an average team at best. Busters

if we can get a nice number of recruits to enroll in the spring again we can take another step. getting us back will not be an over night process. next year we should should expect more. at least recruits are excited again about coming back to the U.

Posted by: memphiscane | November 16, 2009 at 06:17 PM

How do U think those recruits will feel when they visit this weekend knowing that 4 years from now, they will have only 25,000 fans in the stands in a 2/3rds. Empty Stadium on their Senior Day ?

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The majority of the cowards that post on here are not true fans. most of u wait for the canes to lose and post a bunch of regurgitated garbage on here. I hear u all ditch randy and praise whipple. im a whipple fan as well and he hasnt done any better with the timeouts and the playcalling. im sick and tired of seeing that same playaction go deeep to one of our wideouts every play. at least show some signs of progression. and the timeout situation is still terrible at best.

Posted by: memphiscane | November 16, 2009 at 06:17 PM

.
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One person's garbage is anothers Art ...

Ur quite the regurgitated Artist U truthful hippocrate .

Yeah and the gators schedule is easier than the Miami Northwestern schedule./LOL

So they have the "Number 1 defense"ooooooooooooooooo ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Easy to say against Charleston So. the very same team that Wofford almost put as many points against as the gators.

or vaunted vandy. oooohhh ahhhhhhh
or terrible Tenneseee oooohh ahhhh. the same Tenneseee of Nu'Keese Richardosn!

or tremendous Troy oooohhh ahhhhhhhh
next up, fabulous FIU woooooow watch out.

Come on people. Your blogs make me wonder how there are so many retarded folks out there, living alone!

Recall this, you delirious dements: Timmy aka Big head, aka Melonhead, aka the moyle, aka the chosen one went 9-4 his sophomore year with a supposedly stacked team!

And 9-4 is where UMis likely headed. So shut the --flip up, Pedro, Paco, And all you sorry loser gator morons who have nothing better to do. Shoo shoo go back to your trailors.

why is the same gaytor fan trolling this blog?

Great Story Manny.

Damn great stats. 10-13 in ACC play. This year it should be 6 and 1. V-Tech loss fine but the others, just not good. 3 and 3 is not what this team should be in conference play. Next year at Ohio State and G-Tech plus North Carolina and V-Tech still on the schedule. Maybe 2010 is still not the year. Hope I am wrong. GOOOO! CANES!!!

Posted by: jra | November 16, 2009 at 03:12 PM
What are you talking about? 6-1? Miami is closer to being 2-5 than 6-1.

Posted by: memphiscane | November 16, 2009 at 06:17 PM

How do U think those recruits will feel when they visit this weekend knowing that 4 years from now, they will have only 25,000 fans in the stands in a 2/3rds. Empty Stadium on their Senior Day ?
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I ask again, all Cane Fans ...

If U don't think this will effect what happens on Signing day come Feb., Ur, well, most of U are already delusional nuts, but U know what I mean.

Where's Pedro out having a taco...Bob Griese

Have to disagree w/ you Manny on the Cane's weakest link being the secondary. Maybe in the stats, but it's evident that the DL aren't doing much on pass rush, which translates to a weak secondary. Get a good pass rush and our secondary will all look as good as Sean Taylor or Ed Reed. Add some great linebackers and we'll win a national championship.

Manny, Good stuff on the grading the Canes article. I feel U Bruh. I don't think Whipple does enough to protect his young QB. We all can see that Jacory don't have a strong arm, yet and still Whipple keep calling plays to go down field. Whipple can also help the struggling O-line by simply calling 3 and 5 step drops more quick timing pass plays. Enough with the play actions no one is biting on them. I thought that we establish the D.Berry is the best back, if so why is he only getting 6 carries. The carries should have been flip-flopped. Berry should have gotten Coopers and vice versa. Keep throwing to the back we have something going there. This Offense is EXPLOSIVE and DANGEROUS when used right. We are so busy being cute and beating ourselves. The Defense is very inconsistent and i think it comes from trying to play to many players. O.Vernon should never leave the field, he is the only one that applies pressure. Since we can't get any pressure or sacks, how about going man to man coverage with a cover 2 shell. We should get more coverage sacks then. Be more agressive and get off the field on 3rd down defense.

By the way.....for the comment above....He is not only white...he is a white cuban kid.

Conner Vernon is better then any WR on the entire Canes roster, period.


Posted by: Blue Devil Fan | November 16, 2009 at 03:35 PM


You can tell you know alot about football.

Dang it 330 pm game. Why cant these players play well at 330 ?


Posted by: Jaime | November 16, 2009 at 03:05 PM

Yeah, that's what it is. The reason for the losses are because the games are being played at 3:30.

Thanks, TheSergeantmajor, duvalscanefan, and the few others that are trying to have an intelligent debate. The other so called U fans, please ignore the Pedros or whoever, if you don't take their bait, they eventually will be fade into irrelevant background noise.

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