By Meghan Moore
Duke Sports Information
DURHAM, N.C. -- With 198 career receptions and 2,675 career receiving yards, rising senior wide receiver Conner Vernon is on the brink of breaking several ACC records, yet, he enters his final spring season with two goals in mind: stepping into a leadership role and leading Duke to a bowl game.
"It's kind of like my turn now, I'm expecting myself to be more of a leader as opposed to the years in the past when I wasn't," said Vernon. "Austin [Kelly] and Donavan [Varner] led by example on and off the field, and I hope to do the same."
Vernon admits that it will be a big challenge, but he is determined to fill the void, taking the younger guys under his wing and keeping guys spirits up.
Vernon hopes that the spring will allow him and his teammates the opportunity to grow as a team.
"This is spring. It's a good time for the younger guys to step up and show the coaches what they've really got," said Vernon. "I'm hoping that we find a lot of players that can come in and contribute right away."
The Miami, Fla., native has also set individual goals for himself.
"It's a good time for me to get more in sync with the quarterbacks so that we're not starting from scratch when we get to the fall," he said.
Vernon has high expectations for his final season at Duke and hopes that what he and his teammates accomplish in the offseason will translate onto the field in the fall.
"Definitely going to a bowl game, that's always goal number one, but I want us to be the best offensive team in the ACC, definitely the best passing offense in the ACC," said Vernon.
Quarterback Anthony Boone respects Vernon's intangible abilities that make him such a presence on the field.
"On the field, he is our go to guy," said Boone. "He has this uncanny ability to get open and knows how to make the catch. He's got talents that you can't really teach to be honest."
Offensive lineman Brian Moore spoke highly of Vernon's athletic ability and character on and off the field.
"It's so interesting to see him on the field," Moore said. "You walk around and meet him, he's kind of a quiet and reserved guy, but when he gets out there it seems like he is a different person. There is just a side of him that you don't really see, so expressive and obviously great football player."
This spring Vernon will establish himself as a leader who always puts the team first. He's a team player, who is only concerned about one record, despite being so close to gaining individual glory.