Following up on speculation that first surfaced overnight, there has indeed been some definitive clarity added to Duke’s quarterback position.
The university announced Thursday afternoon that Brandon Connette has decided to play his final season of collegiate football at another school. The release stated that “Duke has fulfilled Connette’s requests to provide permission to schools closer to his home of Corona, Calif., to contact him regarding future athletic and academic opportunities.”
Connette’s decision to transfer has nothing to do with a depth chart or unhappiness with his standing with the football program. Rather, it has everything to do with a family matter. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December of last year, which prompted the quarterback to take a leave of absence from the team prior to the Blue Devils’ bowl game.
“First and foremost, our prayers and concerns are with Nancy Connette and her quest for good health,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “We thank Brandon for his many contributions to Duke University and our football program. We want nothing but the best for Brandon – both on the football field and off – and his personal situation is very close to our hearts. He’s been an integral part of our program over the past four years, and we wish him continued success going forward.”
In 2013, Connette played in all 14 games for the Blue Devils in their stunning run to 10 wins. When starter Anthony Boone went down with a collarbone injury, Connette replaced him; Duke went 1-2 with Boone out of the starting lineup. After Boone returned, the two players spent a large portion of the remainder of the season in a quasi-platoon system.
Boone was the primary weapon in the passing game, while Connette led the Blue Devils in rushing touchdowns with 14. Connette, though, did his share of damage through the air, matching Boone with 13 touchdown passes.
A three-star member of Duke’s 2010 recruiting class, one of the offers Connette coming out of high school in Corona, Calif., was Stanford. Whether the Cardinal would be an option four years later is unclear.
“I could not be more appreciative of Coach Cutcliffe for his understanding of this situation,” Connette said. “Being away from my family during my mother’s illness has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to endure. I’m thankful that Duke University afforded me so many incredible opportunities – academically, athletically and socially – and will always hold my experience here in the highest regard.”
As Connette will be a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2014 at an FBS program.