Vernon, Reddick others sign free agent NFL deals
Posted April 28, 2013
The NFL Draft may be over but the phones for many NFL hopefuls are still ringing. On Sunday, former Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon answered and then signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. North Carolina linebacker Kevin Reddick, meanwhile, was sought out by the New Orleans Saints.
The Minnesota Vikings were quick to offer free agent deals to UNC wide receiver Erik Highsmith and NC State center Camden Wentz.
Also inking a free agent deals Sunday were Wake Forest defensive back Chibuikem Okoro, who agreed with the San Diego Chargers, East Carolina offensive lineman Robert Jones, who signed with the Carolina Panthers and ECU defensive tackle Michael Brooks who signed with the Detroit Lions.
Vernon, a three-time All-ACC selection, set ACC records for career pass receptions, career pass receiving yardage, most consecutive games with one or more pass reception (48), set a single-season Duke record with 85 receptions in 2012 and ranks 23rd all-time in NCAA receptions with 283.
“Over the past four years, I’ve had the privilege to watch Conner grow as both a young man and football player,” said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. “The numbers Conner produced here at Duke, as good as they were with 283 career catches for nearly 3,800 yards, only tell part of the story – his work ethic, attention to detail and commitment to excellence will pave his way for success. Conner has an opportunity to be an asset to the Oakland Raiders because of his desire to compete and be the best football player he can possibly be.”
Reddick, a New Bern native, recorded double figures in tackles twice last season setting a season-high mark with 14 against Georgia Tech. Reddick also recorded 8.5 sacks and an interception in his four years with the Tar Heels.
Highsmith had at least 25 catches in all four years in Chapel Hill hauling in a personal best 54 as a freshman. The 6-foot-3 Vanceboro native went over 2,000 yards in his career with 15 touchdowns.
Wentz started all 39 NC State games over the last three seasons making the transition from Russell Wilson to Mike Glennon while anchoring the offensive line at center. Wentz gave up just one sack in over 2,000 snaps during his sophomore and junior seasons and was a preseason Remington Award watch list candidate.
Known as Kenny, Okoro started 37 games for the Demon Deacons hauling in seven interceptions. In 2012, Okoro started all 13 games at corner and ranked second on the team with nine pass breakups.
Jones, a 6-foot-3, 300-pounder, went to Greenville as a defensive lineman but was forced to the offensive side of the ball with ECU after a couple injuries. Brooks was also affected by injuries at ECU suffering a season-ending knee injury as a sophomore and missing three games as a senior. He closed out the 2012 regular season with 12 tackles, two sacks and an interception in the final two games.