Versatile C.J. Conrad does more than catch passes for Kentucky offense

C.J. Conrad was happy after UK beat Missouri. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

ESPN has Kentucky senior tight end C.J. Conrad projected as the first tight end in the 2019 draft ahead of Tyler Petite (USC), Tommy Sweeney (Boston College), Foster Moreau (LSU) and Matt Sokol (Michigan State).

Other projections have him as the second or third tight end picked anywhere from round two to round four. But a tight end has been taken in the first round three times in the last five NFL drafts.

The 6-5, 245-pound Conrad could become the first UK tight end drafted since Jacob Tamme in 2008. Like Tamme, he has soft hands and deceptive speed (4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash).

Kentucky tight ends coach Vince Marrow is not surprised that Conrad has already been named to several preseason all-SEC teams as well as listed high in mock drafts.

“He is one of the top five tight ends in the country and the NFL thinks the same thing just off the way they are ranking him right now. He could catch 40 or 50 balls. He’s catching 20 balls but what people are missing is how good he can block,” Marrow said.

“He can go to the next level and whichever team drafts him, he can catch 30, 40 or 50 balls. He’s that good. When he is all the way healthy, I think he is the best in the SEC.”

Marrow said Conrad could easily catch 50 passes this year if that’s how Kentucky wanted to set up the offense. Instead, Conrad’s best value is his versatility.

“He does so much. He is valuable in pass protection, the run game. If C.J. went to a school where they just threw the ball a lot, he would catch 60 balls (a year),” Marrow said. “He’s that good. What he does for us is very important. When we lost him after the Georgia game, it showed in our offense. He can do so many things and we scheme things in our offense for him.”

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  1. I want to see Conrad have a monster year catching the football over the middle. Gran needs to use him more in the passing game on second and third down. He is a great TE that most of us football fans have not seen catch near enough balls yet at Kentucky. His blocking skill is also a big part of the UK offense. I pray he stays healthy. I do think he is a first round pick if he has a great year in 2018.

    1. UK QB’s have got to be accurate and hit him when he is open. Get the ball out quick.

  2. Two things at UK have not allowed Conrad to shine:
    Inaccurate qb’s
    An Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach that do not value the passing game.

  3. I understand that he is an excellent blocker. Lets say he successfully blocks his guy 90% of the time. That is something to speak of and a very respectable number.
    Buttttttt, if he releases, he will occupy a defender 100% of the time, if not then he gets 7 or more yards.
    It will be difficult to attract another tight end as good as Conrad.

  4. How many passes do the tight ends at other SEC programs catch per season? Stoops values the run? What is the news there. So do coaches at Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, …..

    I bet the tight ends at those schools catch more passes than Conrad had caught in a season, and I don’t get that at all. He has great hands, is a bull in a china shop when he gets the ball, he scores a large percentage of his touches, but he seems to get fewer and fewer opportunities.

    The quick release to the tight end is a play that should be in UK’s regular arsenal of weapons. Yet, it appears to be an offensive afterthought at best.

  5. Has anyone introduced Gran to CJ yet?

  6. The weakest link in KY’s offense is Gran. Stoops has shown that he will accept mediocrity from both his players and coaches. CJ is an exception that is getting wasted due to coaching philosophy. That will not likely change unless a coaching change is made.

    1. I have watched Stoops on the field at game time for 5 years now. That said, I don’t think Stoops has a clue when it comes to offensive football. His defensive prowess, which is supposed to be his forte, can’t seem to get it done either when it really counts. Not is this league. Gran is supposed to be an offensive guru, I just don’t see it. At least not yet. Sorry for the negativity, but I am sick of watching Kentucky football struggle to gain any ground on the national scene year after year, under a man that is paid so much to make it happen. UK has to rise in 2018 or I don’t think Stoops gets it done at Kentucky. I hope I’m wrong.

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