As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
With 283 career catches, Conner Vernon is both Duke’s and the ACC‘s all-time leading receiver. While this may qualify as one of the most “ACC” things ever, put aside the snark for a second and realize just how impressive that figure is. Four years averaging over 70 catches per season. And all while playing for a team that only managed to win six games once in that stretch. If there’s any player who deserves credit more than the others for the Blue Devils’ resurgence, it must be Vernon — the star who chose to stick it out for a four-year degree in Durham over putting up these elite numbers elsewhere. Not just a statistical monster, Vernon was the heart of this Duke team during their season to remember. Even during the team’s late-season swoon, he was still on his game, managing to amass 21 catches, 228 yards and three touchdowns in his final two collegiate games (both losses, unfortunately). With somewhere between average and below-average height and weight, mixed with below-average speed, he’s certainly going to take a dip on draft boards in April. But there’s no denying what an asset a player like Vernon — a devoted student of the game, and tireless worker — is capable of at the next level. Any warts scouts may see in his game could all very well be ironed out by the time his name’s called that weekend.