Momentum around UK football right now is at an all-time high, with many fans and media analysts expecting the Wildcats to win anywhere from seven to nine games next season. Kentucky returns the majority of starters next year, there is (finally) some consistency from the offensive coordinator position, depth continues to grow stronger, etc.
One of the main reasons for excitement? The expected growth of UK junior tight end CJ Conrad.
If you ask TeamSpeedKills.com of SB Nation, Conrad is due for a Jacob Tamme-esque breakout year for the Wildcats this season.
As you all well know, one of the most reliable pass-catchers in recent Kentucky football memory comes from 6’3 tight end and Danville, KY native Jacob Tamme. During the Rich Brooks era, Tamme became a go-to target for Andre Woodson, and he was instrumental in the massive bowl runs in both 2006 and 2007.
When you dive into the numbers, both Tamme and Conrad’s freshman and sophomore seasons at Kentucky were eerily similar.
In his first year at UK, Conrad caught 15 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, showing off hints of his four-star potential he came in with. Conrad followed it up with 19 receptions, 262 yards, and four touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. (Who knows what kind of numbers Conrad could have put up last season if he and Stephen Johnson connected on some of the throws that sailed over the tight end’s head throughout the year.)
You can see Tamme’s numbers in the graphic below:
Tamme certainly had more receptions in his sophomore year, but the yardage is nearly identical. In the next two seasons, his numbers spiked.
Check out TeamSpeedKills’ analysis on the comparison of both Kentucky tight ends:
Remember Jacob Tamme? The standout tight end was one of Kentucky’s best receivers in the mid 2000s, leading to his placement on the First Team All-SEC lists in both his junior and senior years. Ultimately, he would be taken by the Colts in the 4th round of the NFL Draft, spending 3 years catching passes from Peyton Manning–fellow SEC athlete and one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
Tamme was a star on some of Kentucky’s most exciting teams, including the 2007 one that rose all the way to No. 8 in the rankings after beating No. 1 LSU in triple overtime at
Commonwealth StadiumKroger Field. That year was certainly a strange one at the University of Kentucky–the football team was consistently better and a bit more popular than the basketball team, a fact that speaks to the quality of the players Rich Brooks had brought to the school.
Conrad certainly hasn’t had a Tamme-like season yet. And honestly, he might not. After all, Tamme’s numbers were phenomenal, and it’s baffling that he was never a Mackey Award finalist. He was an extremely talented player, the likes of which the Wildcats might never see again.
Still, if there’s anyone since then who can replicate the success and stats that Tamme put up, it’s Conrad. Next season will mark one decade since Tamme’s senior season, and it’ll also see us enter the final half of C.J. Conrad’s time at Kentucky. The jump from 2015 to 2016 saw a massive improvement in nearly every facet of Kentucky football, from quarterback to tight end.
Kentucky fans are hoping that the jump from 2016 to 2017 sees an even greater jump for C.J. Conrad, the man who could become the next Jacob Tamme.
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