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After health scare, former Kentucky tight end CJ Conrad is “trying to get (his) name back out there” with NFL teams

On March 1, former Kentucky tight end CJ Conrad saw his future in football flash right before his eyes. While getting prepared for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the 6-foot-5 tight end was told that he would not be allowed to participate in the event after tests revealed an issue with his heart.

Not only was his football career temporarily placed on hold, he was worried for his life.

“That was very tough, tough for my family,” Conrad said today. “I’m just glad to get through that. It was a tough part of my life, but it taught me a lot, made me think of things outside of football and what’s really important.”

For Conrad, the news absolutely blindsided him, as he has had a clean bill of health – specifically with non-injury issues – his entire life. He had to double-check with the medical professionals at the NFL Combine to make sure they had the right person.

“It was a complete surprise to me, absolutely blindsided me at the Combine,” he said. “The things they were telling me, I was like, “Are you sure you have the right person?” It might sound messed up to say that, but it really didn’t make sense to me. I was just like, “Let’s get this doctor’s appointment done, I want to see the best.” I was tired of everyone else’s opinion, I needed to get the best.”

After meeting with some of the best cardiologists in the country at Mass General Hospital in Boston, it was determined Conrad was ready to compete once again. Just three weeks after hearing the devastating news, the former Wildcat was cleared to participate at UK’s Pro Day on March 22.

He didn’t participate in any serious testing or drills, but going out and catching passes in front of NFL teams was more than enough to make him satisfied.

“For me to go out there on March 22 and do some routes in front of scouts, I only got cleared like 48 hours before that happened,” he said. “I just wanted to show that I’m fine. I felt fine, never felt bad.”

From there, Conrad rescheduled a Pro Day of his own to finally go through testing and make a name for himself with scouts watching specifically for him.

While scouts were certainly worried after hearing the initial news back at the Combine in March, the former Kentucky tight end wanted to prove he’s still the same player he was to close out his senior season in Lexington.

“Part of the draft process is building your brand, this is the one time in your football career that you’re not on a team, you’re representing yourself,” he said. “Over the last two and a half weeks or so I’ve just been trying to get the word out here that I’m healthy and I’m fine. When you have a heart condition – well not a heart condition, but it was a heart condition for two and a half weeks – teams may get freaked out by that. So my job (since then) has been to do some damage control and get my information out there from the best cardiologist in the country, send it to all 32 NFL teams.”

Conrad revealed that visits are going well and he has plenty more to come before the NFL Draft begins on April 25, but he again stressed that his job right now is to make sure teams just remember who the real CJ Conrad is.

“I’ve got (a visit) with the Browns on Friday, a couple teams I met with prior to Pro Day yesterday,” he said. “It’s been going well, but like I said, while most guys are trying to raise their stock, I’m just trying to get my name back out there.”

So what are those conversations like with NFL teams? The former Wildcat said that he’s hearing different things on where he projects at the next level. Some teams want him to unleash his “Baby Gronk” as a primary pass-catcher, while others believe he can dominate the game as a block-first end.

He went through both sets of drills at both Pro Day opportunities, and he feels he can thrive at either position.

“It’s kind of weird, all 32 teams do their own evaluations,” he said. “Some teams have me as a guy that’ll go out and catch a bunch of balls, and a couple teams have me as a true Y tight end, a blocking tight end. But listen, I’ll do whatever a team asks me to do, that’s what I always say. I feel like it’s a compliment (they feel that way) because it shows I can do both.”


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

3 Comments for After health scare, former Kentucky tight end CJ Conrad is “trying to get (his) name back out there” with NFL teams

  1. cats646
    7:26 pm April 8, 2019 Permalink

    You got this CJ!!

  2. zoupman
    3:33 am April 9, 2019 Permalink

    I hope he does well and gets with the right team. Regardless, it’s a shame at how underutilized he was at UK.

  3. henderblue
    6:26 am April 9, 2019 Permalink

    Keep working CJ. I think you’re going to be a star. Good luck..