Who to Watch: Cincinnati v. Duke (Belk Bowl)

Stay tuned for must-see prospects from every game of the bowl season.

Belk Bowl

Thursday December 27, 6:30pm EST



Conner Vernon, #2, SR, Wide Receiver

Congratulations to the Duke Blue Devils who are back in a bowl game for the first time since the 1994-95 season.  The program has been steadily rising over the last few years under Coach Cutcliffe and the backbone of the offense during that time is Conner Vernon.  Not Torry Holt, Calvin Johnson, or Hakeem Nicks, it’s Vernon who holds the ACC record for most career receptions with 273.  What I like about Vernon as an NFL prospect is his consistency.  In 2012 he hauled in at least five passes in 10/12 games.  Over the course of his career, he his average stat lines have looked like:

  • 2010: 6.1 receptions, 81 yards,  .3 TD  (58 productivity… anything over 60 is NFL useful, above 80 is potentially elite)
  • 2011: 5.8 receptions, 80 yards,  .5 TD  (69 productivity)
  • 2012:  6.3 receptions, 80 yards,  .6 TD  (57 productivity)

Talk about steady…

Out of an elite NFL prospect, we would like to see an upward trend in catches, yards, yards/reception, touchdowns, etc… so let’s not confuse Vernon with elite.  Instead, let’s enjoy the  6′  200lb receiver do his thing.  You should completely expect Vernon to get drafted next April and he could be an excellent intermediate threat in an NFL offense.  One NFL player that shows up close to Vernon’s name in my database is the Packers’ James Jones.


Travis Kelce, #18 , Senior, TE

A tight end?  Really?  Yes…

You know that school called Notre Dame?  Maybe you’ve seen them play.  If you have, surely you’ve noticed that obnoxious arrow that follows star TE Tyler Eifert around the field.  Many people will argue that Eifert is the best TE prospect in college football, whether he decides to declare for the draft this year or return for his senior season.  Well, I’m here to make the case that Kelce is EVERY BIT the prospect Eifert is.

If we compare Kelce and Eifert within the context of their offense, they both earn a productivity grade of 55, which is above average for a tight end.  On a per game basis, compare their average stat lines:

  • Eifert–3.7 catches, 52 yards, .3 TDs
  • Kelce– 3.3 catches, 50 yards, .6 TDs 

During the Bearcats pursuit of the Big East title, Kelce ranked second in the conference with 5 TD receptions in league play.  In the Belk Bowl, Cincinnati will be rolling with a quarterback who has thrown ONLY 121 career passes.  Keep an eye on #18 as he looks to make a splash in his final collegiate game, while working as a safety net for Brandon Kay.


One thought on “Who to Watch: Cincinnati v. Duke (Belk Bowl)

  1. Pingback: Who to watch: Mississippi State v. Northwestern (Gator Bowl) « The College Football Experiment

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