Conner's tough road to a scholarship

John Conner is a walk-on from West Chester, Ohio, who is in the quest of someday earning a scholarship at the University of Kentucky. Over the years, we have seen a multitude of walk-ons come and go. Usually the ones that stick around for an extended period of time feel that or have been led to believe that they at some point are going to be put on scholarship.

John Conner is a walk-on from West Chester, Ohio, who is in the quest of someday earning a scholarship at the University of Kentucky. Over the years, we have seen a multitude of walk-ons come and go. Usually the ones that stick around for an extended period of time feel that or have been led to believe that they at some point are going to be put on scholarship. In other words, there is talent that resides in the individual.

Conner is a fullback, who at sometime in his playing career has toted the pigskin on a regular bases. At UK he is trying to contribute and impress the coaches at the fullback position. To do this, he is not evaluated on running the football but on how well he can block and how well he can catch the football. Fullbacks in the modern day offenses get thrown a bone (carry the ball) every once in a while; unless he is a Jerome "The Bus" Bettis clone.

Conner has managed to climb the depth chart to the No.1 spot against U of L., West Texas, and Ole Miss. He was left at home last Saturday when the Cats went against Florida due to turf-toe. This injury occurs when the foot is caught in a toe-down vertical position and fell on creating a jam of the big toe to the turf, whereby the first joint of the big toe becomes swollen and very painful.

When a walk on comes to the football team, he assesses his talent as to how he stacks up to the scholarship player. It is a situation in that he has to work hard to catch the eye of his position coach. It's not like he reported as a scholarship player where he was recruited and is well known coming in to UK. "John was a athlete I knew about in high school. He sustained a knee his junior year in high school which set him back," running backs coach Ron Caragher said. "Actually, barring the knee injury, he could've easily been a recruited athlete.

"His play has been solid but the injury set him back and he's working back up the depth chart. I'm encouraged to see that fire in his belly. In practice, when there's a call for a fullback on the field, he is the first to jump up. John is a blue collar, lunch pail guy who comes to work and never complains. He is a coachable kid who wants to get better. You can see it because he's on two special teams and we just want to keep John Conner healthy so he can continue to grow as a player. He's still a freshman. At times I have to remind myself because of his maturity, you think of him as a upper classman because that's the way he carries himself."

Lots of time the rule catches a guy in giving out scholarships to walk-ons and if there is no clear cognizance by the player, they quickly get disenchanted. Within the first two walk-on years, if a scholarship is awarded, that scholarship counts towards the 25 per year limit. After the initial two years, they only count towards the overall team ceiling of 85.

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