Duke Blue Devils wide receiver Conner Vernon is the ACC's all-time leader in pass catches and receiving yards. The 6'0, 196-pound wideout had his best collegiate season as a senior in 2012, catching 85 passes for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns. He's got his own identity as a football player, yet Vernon can't seem to escape comparisons to Denver Broncos wide receivers Wes Welker and Eric Decker, according to a report from Mike Garafolo of USA TODAY Sports on Monday.
Vernon, as he says in the report, believes he knows why:
"It's funny how, nowadays, you're just comparing race to race here. Aside from my skin color, I don't see where they got that assumption."
Vernon is versatile, to be sure. He's spent time in the slot and can make big plays down the field. But Decker, at 6'3 and 218 pounds, has the size advantage. Welker, on the other hand, comes in at 5'9 and 185 pounds, and possesses that signature quickness that Vernon doesn't quite have, either.
He's somewhere in-between the two, if you want to stick with those two names, but the point Vernon's making is that they probably shouldn't be there in the first place. Then again, NFL.com's prospect profile compared him to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ryan Whalen, and that makes Decker and Welker sound a lot better.
Vernon made these remarks during April workouts at Duke, led by the brothers Eli and Peyton Manning and featuring receivers such as Victor Cruz of the New York Giants lining up alongside Welker and Decker. In the report, Eli made a pretty great Eli-esque quote on one of Vernon's signature traits: "He has the same hair as Decker. That's about all I know."
Maybe then, the key to Vernon establishing his own identity is more cosmetic than anything football-related.