Renfree gone, but not forgotten at Duke's pro day

csmith@newsobserver.comMarch 26, 2013 

— When the participants for Duke football’s pro day hit the field at Brooks Practice Facility on Monday afternoon, one notable member from the 2012 team was missing – star quarterback Sean Renfree.

The three-year starter, who passed for 9,465 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career, is still rehabbing in Arizona following an injury on the last play of the Belk Bowl. Renfree needed surgery for a torn right pectoralis major muscle.

Though Renfree was not able to attend his pro day, his former No. 1 wide receiver Conner Vernon gave an update following his workout.

“I saw him at the combine and he’s doing really well,” Vernon said of his former quarterback. “I know he wishes he was here today, being able to work out in front of scouts, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. He’s starting to jog and he said he’s ahead of schedule right now.”

When asked if he would have minded the three-year starter throwing him passes on Monday, Vernon laughed and replied, “Not at all. We’ve had a pretty good connection over the last 3 1/2 years, so I’m sure it would have been the same today.”

Renfree threw for an unspectacular 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his senior season, but finished strong with 790 yards and five touchdowns to just two interceptions against Miami and then Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. Those performances garnered interest from scouts.

After the injury, most believed his draft stock took a big dip. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. still projects Renfree as a draft pick in the later rounds.

“Another quarterback I like is Sean Renfree out of Duke,” Kiper said during an interview with a Buffalo Bills blog. “I like the fact that he has size, I like his arm. I like that he was with (coach) David Cutcliffe for five years. He tutored Peyton and Eli Manning and is known as a quarterback guru.

“Renfree took Duke to a bowl game for the first time since 1994. … He’s a Matt Hasselback- , Matt Schaub-type to me, so I like Renfree in the fifth-round area.”

The Scottsdale, Ariz., native finished his career as the most accurate quarterback at Duke, completing 65.4 percent of his passes. Renfree started 2012 on a torrid pace, completing over 70 percent of his passes through the first five games and completed 75.5 percent against the Bearcats in his final game.

The “quarterback guru” that Kiper spoke about was an advocate for his former quarterback.

“I’ve looked at almost every guy available and I think Sean Renfree is the most accurate passer in the draft,” Cutcliffe said. “There’s a reason as a three-year starter that he’s the most accurate passer in our history. He has great knowledge and an uncanny ability of putting the ball where he needs to put it.”

Though Renfree was not able to get his pro day in front of scouts, Cutcliffe said he plans to have him come to Durham prior to the draft and work with him to make sure there are no bad habits creeping in due to the injury – something that worked pretty well for Peyton Manning last summer.

Smith: 919-829-4841; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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