By the end of the 2015 Kentucky football season, C.J. Conrad was a household name for Wildcat fans. He was statistically the top freshman tight end in the SEC, and he gave Big Blue Nation a glimpse of what could be a special collegiate career. Earlier this summer, he was named to the John Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight end.
To the surprise of many, however, Conrad is having to compete every day in practice for playing time. Nebraska transfer Greg Hart is now eligible after sitting out last season and seems to have just as much upside as Conrad. Not only are their battles in practice brutal, but it seems that each guy is constantly trying to get the upper hand over the other.
Not even a Chipotle burrito is safe from the crazy competitions between Kentucky’s tight-knit tight ends. https://t.co/LNlIXxSF7t— Jen Smith (@jenheraldleader) August 19, 2016
“It’s gotten to the point that we’ll stay after practice and we’ll run to see who wins the race, who’s faster,” Conrad said of their relationship. “We always eat Chipotle together and he always thinks his burrito is better than mine and stuff like that. It’s just stupid how competitive we are.”
Of course most of their shenanigans are just for fun, but it also makes sense that the competitive nature of their relationship is going to make for a stronger product on game day.
“When I was competing, whether it was in college or the NFL, I ain’t going to live with a guy I was competing with because I looked at him as my enemy,” Tight ends coach Vince Marrow said. “It seems to work for them, though.”
Why does it work for them? Although they have only been roommates for a few weeks, this bromance started long before Hart was able to suit up in blue and white.
“He’s been a really big role model,” Conrad said. “Even though I played last year and he was watching, it still felt like he was the veteran to me. … I learned a lot from him.”
“I’m here to compete and I’m here to contribute and I will do that,” Hart said recently. “C.J.’s my roommate and one of my best friends … I know that me and him complement each other extremely well.”
Both listed at 6’5” and 245 pounds, and having very similar body types, it looks as if the Kentucky coaching staff is stocking its shelves straight from a tight end factory.
Both of these guys have NFL bodies and talent and could be playing on Sundays in a few years. Having two of them on one team is rare, and the combination could be one of Kentucky’s greatest offensive weapons in the next two seasons.
In ranking the receiving corps for SEC teams, ESPN ranked Kentucky’s group 6th overall, in part, due to Conrad’s production from last season. If the tight ends were ranked separately from the wide receivers, one could argue that Kentucky would easily be in the top 2 or 3 when Hart is added to the equation.
“When you get two tight ends that are almost similar, as an offensive staff, you’ve got to be forced to put them on the field at the same time,” Marrow said.
Just like it did for Iceland in Mighty Ducks 2, having both bash brothers on the field could prove to be a problem for SEC defenses throughout the season. They will make their debut in Commonwealth Stadium one week from Saturday at 7:30 p.m.