The John Mackey Award is given out each year to the most outstanding collegiate tight end in NCAA football.
The watch list for the 2016 potential recipients was released this morning, and Kentucky's own C.J. Conrad was one of only five sophomores on the list of 45 tight ends from around the country. Conrad made an appearance on last year's midseason watch list for the award, and hopes to make a strong impression on the award selection committee early this season.
Despite being selected as a freshman All-American by Athlon sports last season, many fans felt like Conrad had an underutilized role in the offense. While his 15 receptions, 149 receiving yards, and single touchdown led freshman SEC tight ends, Shannon Dawson's scheme did not provide an opportunity for the freshman to show the skills that many expected to see from the 4-star recruit.
However, Eddie Gran's offense has been known to put an emphasis on getting the tight end the football. With Conrad's size, strength, and versatility, the new offense could utilize him in a number of ways that put him in a position to be successful.
Coming from Lagrange, Ohio, C.J. chose Kentucky over scholarship offers from several schools including Arkansas, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech, and he gave Ohio State a loud "don't bother" when they tried to get in late on his recruitment. Conrad's commitment to Kentucky, and eventual honoring of that commitment, was a huge statement from Coach Mark Stoops and crew that Kentucky would now be a major player in the Ohio recruitment scene.
The winner of the Mackey Award will be announced on December 7th and will be presented the next day at The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show on ESPNU. CJ Conrad's trip to the red carpet begins on September 3rdin Commonwealth Stadium.