C.J. Conrad is, "Going to be a really, really good player here for a long time."

Nick Roushover 6 years

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Aritcle written by:Nick RoushNick Roush

@RoushKSR

[caption id="attachment_177177" align="alignnone" width="600"]247 247[/caption] Don't take my word for it; those are Patrick Towles'. Conrad came to Kentucky a semester early, bringing with him plenty baggage, but Conrad's baggage is the good kind.  He began starting varsity halfway through his freshmen football season, propelling him to 4-star status before his Senior season and earning a trip to Nike's prestigious camp, The Opening.  In 3.5 years of football, he had an astounding 2,436 yards receiving and 32 touchdowns (2 were punt returns, as a tight end, lol). Without a tight end on the roster with significant playing experience, a lot of pressure is on Conrad to perform immediately.  You couldn't tell it by the way he's playing. In the first scrimmage of the Spring season, he caught two touchdown passes.  He was targeted often in the middle of the field and his only memorable drops were the QB's fault; a pass into quadruple coverage and a ball at his toes in the flat.  Yesterday, among his many routine plays for 8-10 yards, he had one of the prettiest catches of the day with a one-handed over-the-shoulder grab to put the Cats inside the Red Zone. Conrad plays without feeling the pressure, too focused on improving to pay attention to the outsiders.  Not only is he being asked to be a traditional tight end, he also splits out in the slot and lines up in the backfield as a blocking H-back (fullback). "In high school I was more of a receiver than a blocker," Conrad said.  "I'm just trying to establish myself as a blocker first and I know the receiving will come with it." Transitioning from high school speed to SEC speed was an eye-opener.  He described the first few practices with a "WOAH!"  But since Spring Break, the game has started to slow down. Instead of focusing on the negative side of the transition, he's kept his focus on the positive aspects,  "It's been really fun because everyday is like gameday for me.  I'm competing for a spot every single day and that's really fun to me.  When it comes to lifting, films, practices, everyday is a competition." Conrad's mature approach has been the key to his early success.  His coaches and his peers are taking notice. "I really think we struck gold with him," Vince Marrow, his position coach and primary recruiter, said. "I'm not surprised, but I think our other staff, they've been surprised with where he's at right now.  C.J. is every bit of what we wanted — and I think he's done more." Mikel Horton, like Conrad, arrived early to campus last Spring.  He believes this class is miles ahead of his class, and especially applauds Conrad, "I'm very surprised by C.J. Conrad; he's physical, he catches everything.  He's a complete tight end and hopefully he's gonna be the starter for us." Conrad is starting his career off on the right foot.  What's next?  "The sky is the limit," Mark Stoops said.

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2021-09-26