Cats to try fullback Conner at tight end
For the past four years, John Conner has been Mr. Reliable for the University of Kentucky offense.
Conner, a 5-foot-11, 240-pound fullback, doesn't get his hands on the ball much for the Wildcats. But when they're in a pinch, they aren't afraid to go to Conner. It could be a big goal-line or short-yardage carry or a catch out of the backfield, but when UK head coach for offense Joker Phillips calls Conner's number, he almost always delivers.
Conner, who missed the season-opening 42-0 blowout of Miami (Ohio), came through for Kentucky in its 31-27 win over Louisville. The Cats faced a fourth-and-1 from the Louisville 25 in the second quarter, and Conner burst 23 yards off right guard to the U of L 2. He bulled up the middle for a score on the next play to give UK a 17-7 lead.
Now, UK Coach Rich Brooks appears ready to reward Conner for years of productivity with an expanded role in the offense, saying at his weekly news conference that he'll start using Conner more as a tight end when UK goes to two-tight-end sets.
Brooks estimated that UK uses a fullback out of the I-formation on just 20 to 25 percent of its plays and said Conner needs to be on the field much more than that. The staff had planned before the season to work Conner in at tight end, but he suffered a high-ankle sprain that kept him out of the season opener.
"He is too good of a player to have on the sideline when we're not in a two-back set all the time," Brooks said. "We need to find a different way to get him on the field."
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