Duke football: Brandon Connette leaving Blue Devils to play closer to ailing mom

lkeeley@newsobserver.comApril 10, 2014 

— Duke quarterback Brandon Connette will play his final season of college football with another program, coach David Cutcliffe announced Thursday. Connette will transfer to a West Coast program closer to his mother, who is battling cancer.

“I could not be more appreciative of coach Cutcliffe for his understanding of this situation,” Connette, who will be a redshirt senior, said in a statement released by the school. “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.”

Nancy Connette had emergency brain surgery on Dec. 12 to remove a tumor and continues to fight what the family has said is stage 4 malignant cancer. Connette was granted a leave of absence from the team during practice leading up to the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Texas A&M in Atlanta. His family lives in Corona, Calif., about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. He rejoined the team in Atlanta on Christmas night.

“First and foremost, our prayers and concerns are with Nancy Connette and her quest for good health,” Cutcliffe said in a statement released by the school. “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 39 career games, Connette completed 106 of 182 passes (58.2 percent) for 1,410 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He rushed 228 times for 735 yards and a school-record 31 touchdowns.

He led Duke in rushing touchdowns in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and is one of three quarterbacks in ACC history to rush for 30-plus touchdowns, along with Tevin Washington (38) and Joshua Nesbitt (35), who both ran the spread-option offense at Georgia Tech.

Last season, Connette set a school record as he accounted for 27 touchdowns.

He graduated from Duke in December with a degree in economics and is working toward a master’s degree in Christian studies. As a graduate student, he will be eligible to play immediately next fall.

Duke has depth at quarterback, with starting and redshirt senior Anthony Boone returning, along with redshirt sophomore Thomas Sirk, redshirt freshman Parker Boehme and incoming freshman Nico Pierre.

Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter: @laurakeeley

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