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Duke QB Transfers To Fresno State For Ailing Mother

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Former Duke quarterback Brandon Connette will play his final season at Fresno State so he can be closer to his mother, who is battling brain cancer in California. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images.
Former Duke quarterback Brandon Connette will play his final season at Fresno State so he can be closer to his mother, who is battling brain cancer in California. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images.

Fresno State's prospects for replacing potential high-round draft pick and quarterback Derek Carr just got better.

Former Duke quarterback Brandon Connette announced Thursday via Twitter that he'll spend his final season of eligibility playing for the Bulldogs after graduating from his former university.

Connette accounted for 27 touchdowns a season ago, including 14 rushing scores, while helping the Blue Devils to a Coastal Division championship in the ACC while splitting time with starter Anthony Boone. The latter will return in 2014, and typically handled more of the passing duties, but Connette proved more than a Wildcat quarterback, completing more than 62 percent of his passes last season with a touchdown-to-interception ratio better than 2:1.

The transfer will allow Connette to play near his mother, Nancy, who lives in Corona, Calif., and has brain cancer. Duke coach David Cutcliffe and the rest of the staff have been effusive with praise for Connette.

Meanwhile, coach Tim DeRuyter this week finally signed a contract extension through 2018 after agreeing to terms in January. Most expect him to be just as plodding with the decision to name a starting quarterback for 2014 after the team lost Carr, who threw for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns last year.

Last year's backup, Brian Burrell, exited spring practice as the presumed leader in the clubhouse, though multiple media reports paint his stranglehold on the position as tenuous at best. Connette is a strong bet to see significant snaps, if not start, and provides a level of experience that Burrell and the other candidates don't have.