UNC coach Larry Fedora said Shakeel Rashad's collision with Conner Vernon on Saturday was unintentional. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — The ACC earlier today suspended Shakeel Rashad, the North Carolina freshman linebacker, after he collided with Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon during the Blue Devils’ 33-30 victory on Saturday.
Not long after the ACC announced the suspension, UNC released statements from Rashad, coach Larry Fedora and Bubba Cunningham, the athletic director. Cunningham said he was “disappointed” in the suspension.
Here are those statements:
Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham:
"We are certainly glad that Conner Vernon was not injured. I spoke to Shakeel in the locker room after the game and he was obviously upset about making contact, but insisted that it unintentional and a result of rushing to get on the field as quickly he could. We are disappointed with the decision to suspend him for a game. I don't understand how the conference can suspend a player who was involved in such an unusual play without speaking to him."
Head Coach Larry Fedora:
"Shakeel is a really good kid who would never intentionally attempt to injure another player. Obviously, it was an unusual play, but knowing the type of young man that Shakeel is, I know he did not intentionally make contact with Conner. We were still making substitutions as Duke was lining up for its next play. Shakeel was trying to get on the field as quickly as possible and inadvertently ran into the receiver. We spoke after the game and Shakeel said he did not mean to collide with him. We're just glad that no one was injured."
Freshman Shakeel Rashad:
"I want to apologize to Duke's Conner Vernon for running into him during Saturday's game. I was in a hurry to get on the field and focused on where I was going. I have been playing football for most of my life and I have never been involved in that type of incident. I did not mean to run into him and I'm glad he was not hurt. He's a great receiver and I wish him the best."