Kentucky already has one tight end committed from the class of 2022, but could very well add another by the time it’s all said and done.
Quinton Conley, a three-star tight end out of The Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, MO, was in Lexington this past weekend for his first-ever official college campus visit. The rising high school senior has–like many in his position–not been able to take many trips over the last 18 or so months, so he was thrilled to finally get this experience. Although his trip to Kentucky was delayed about four hours due to bad weather traveling from Charlotte, Conley said the visit “exceeded expectations.”
KSR caught up with Conley, who is ranked as the 234th best overall player in his class by 247 Sports, on Tuesday to talk about his visit to UK and what went on during the weekend-long event.
He was stuck at the airport on Friday night in Charlotte–as was Jason Essex, a three-star wide receiver also from Kansas City who was en route for his official visit to Kentucky–but made it in time for safeties coach Frank Buffano to pick them up for a late dinner at Malone’s in Lexington. Conley finally got to meet, in person, people he had only known for so long through Zoom calls and FaceTimes. Most of his time on the visit was spent surrounded by the other recruits on officials as well, such as Essex, Josh Kattus (the aforementioned tight end commitment), Tyreese Fearbry, and Dane Key, among others.
“(Junior tight end) Keaton Upshaw, I met him at dinner, we talked for a little while and then I mainly hung out with (junior running back) Chris Rodriguez,” Conley told KSR. “He was the main one taking us around. I got with him on Saturday night, it was me and Jason (Essex) and then some of the other recruits that went out with them.”
Oddly enough, despite playing in the same city as him for years, Conley did not know Essex personally prior to their official visit at Kentucky. But the two quickly connected, whether they intended to or not.
“I really didn’t know Jason Essex a whole bunch before but we were on the same flight coming from Kansas City and we were in the airport together and came back together,” Conley added. “So we were around each other all week pretty much.”
Saturday was all about checking out what Kentucky has to offer; touring the academic buildings (particularly the new law building, which is the major Conley intends to take on), the football facilities, the campus itself, dorm rooms, and everything that he would regularly see if he were to commit to becoming a Wildcat. This is when Conley was able to meet with the coaches such as tight ends coach Vince Marrow while also participating in a position meeting with graduate assistant C.J. Conrad, who played tight end during his time with Kentucky as a student-athlete.
“I mainly talked with Coach C.J. Conrad because Coach Marrow had to step out for our one-on-one meeting. So I mainly talked with Coach C.J. Conrad for position meeting stuff,” Conley said. “I talked to Coach Marrow briefly throughout the whole weekend.”
And of course, no official visit is complete without a dinner at the popular Jeff Ruby’s in downtown Lexington, which they all did on Saturday night. But Sunday is when Conley got a better idea of what his on-field life might be like if he were to choose Kentucky. He briefly met with head coach Mark Stoops and later had a one-on-one sitdown with new offensive coordinator Liam Coen, where the two talked about how Conley would be used in the offense.
“It was nothing but positive,” Conley told KSR about his conversation with Coen. “It was good finally meeting him in person. Talking on the phone is a lot different than getting to meet someone face-to-face but everything we talked about I liked. I like his vision for what he’s trying to do with tight ends and wide receivers in his program. It was definitely a good conversation.
“They were talking about how they wanna get receivers or tight ends to be able to move outside and move back inside, not necessarily that end-line guy, but being able to be athletic and match up with corners or safeties or linebackers, and move them all around the field. That’s kinda where he saw me at, that position.”
Clocking in at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, Conley has the size and athleticism to play all areas of the gridiron as Coen would like.
— Quinton Conley (@quinton_conley) June 13, 2021
By all accounts, Conley was impressed with what he saw at Kentucky. Considering this was his first-ever official visit, he didn’t exactly know what to expect, but he believes it exceeded his expectations.
“It’s just weird because I don’t know what to expect from any college that I visit really,” Conley added. “With it being the first time seeing these people in person, that was kinda weird. But it definitely lived up to–or exceeded the expectations I had, about the city and where the campus is and all that stuff. It was definitely good.
“I really didn’t know what to expect going in. I didn’t realize that (the campus) was actually attached to the city but I didn’t really feel like it was like in the city, so that was kinda nice. I know there was a track meet there so it was good to see a lot of people on campus that day. I like the campus, they’re doing some renovation to one of the parts. I know I want to study law so we were able to see the new law building that they just built. Overall I like the campus, it wasn’t too big to where you can’t walk everywhere.”
As of right now, Conley doesn’t have anything else lined up in terms of official visits for this summer. When KSR last spoke to Conley back in March, he said that Kentucky and Nebraska were recruiting him the hardest. His head coach at Pembroke, Sam Knopik, said that Arizona State, Iowa State, and Eastern Michigan were all in contact along with UK and Nebraska. However, when KSR talked with Conley on Tuesday, he said that the communication with Nebraska had fallen off.
“Nebraska not so much (communication) right now but still looking to set up some visits with some other schools,” Conley said. “I’m looking to set one up with maybe ASU (Arizona State) and we’ll see what happens after that.”
In the end, it might come down to whether or not Kentucky wants to add another tight end to this class. If they do, it sounds like Conley could very well be that option.