By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad missed the last three games of last season with a shoulder injury and has had both shoulder and ankle surgery this offseason. Still, assistant coach Vince Marrow has big expectations for the senior tight end during the 2018 season.
Question: Does it surprise you that tight end C.J. Conrad was not happy to leave practice early because he’s been hurt and can only do rehab?
Marrow: “That’s typical. Some kids would be happy they can leave early. But that kid is a competitor. It is crushing him. You can tell he wants to be out there. He will be back 110 percent in June. Justin (Rigg) will be back (from injury) and then we have the young guys coming in this summer. It’s going to be a strong and talented group.”
Question: If Conrad stays healthy, how big a season could he have?
Marrow: “I say it and will say it again, 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. 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.”
Question: Should Conrad’s production go up just through his experience?
Marrow: “If we schemed for it to happen, he could catch 50 balls easy. 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). He’s that good. What he does for us is very important. When we lost him after the Georgia game, it showed. He can do so many things and we scheme things in our offense for him.”