Four-Star TE Has PSU, OSU Visits Set

Standout tight end is seeking new offers and experiences before the summer camp cycle begins. He breaks down his recruitment right here.

C.J. Conrad's basketball season has come to an end. Which, to him, means it is time to start taking football recruiting visits.

The four-star LaGrange (Ohio) Keystone tight end will check out Penn State March 22 and Ohio State March 29, seeking new offers and new experiences before hitting the camp cycle this summer.

"It's been good," Conrad said of the recruiting cycle. "The basketball season just ended like three weeks ago so I'm taking a lot of visits. I've been to Kentucky and Michigan so far, and am planning Penn State and Ohio State, and working out to get myself ready to the summer."

Eleven programs have extended an offer to the 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end, but neither of the schools he will visit next has.

The junior had been in heavy contact with former Penn State tight end coach John Strollo. In January, head coach Bill O'Brien left the program, Strollo returned to Ball State, and Conrad was left unsure where he stood with the Lions.

That's changed recently, though, as new offensive coordinator John Donovan has begun to increase his conversations with the tight end. Conrad is visiting University Park because of it.

"I went to camp last June, came to the Penn State-Michigan four-overtime game, and had a good relationship with them," Conrad said of Penn State. "It kind of went dead after the season, but then Coach Donovan reached out to me and has shown quite a bit of interest in the last month.

"He asked me to make a trip down there, and I told him I would after basketball was over. Now that it is, I am."

Conrad has seen plenty of the campus and football facilities Penn State has to offer, so on this trip, he is focused on meeting the Lions' new staff.

"A big thing with my recruiting process is the people," Conrad said. "I have to like everything. For the most part, I know every single coach [at other schools]. This is my first coaching staff I haven't met, and I'm excited.

"They seem like they are already hitting the recruiting trail hard, and I'm excited to meet them all."

Donovan in honest, Conrad said, noting he believes Penn State has changed its recruiting focus with Franklin and his staff now firmly entrenched in State College. To him, the level of interest shown by the previous staff, and new one, paints the picture.

When Class of 2014 signee and tight end Mike Geiscki committed to O'Brien in October, Conrad said he immediately noticed a drop-off in communication, enough to sense that perhaps Penn State would not take a tight end in the 2015 cycle. That belief has been eliminated by the arrival of the new staff, though.

"[Donovan] said he loves my film, and he said he really wants to check me out because they haven't been able to come to my school because of the [quiet] period," Conrad said. "They have no idea what I look like in person, and they want to start a relationship and spend all day after practice with me.

"I think they want to take a tight end in this class, and I think that's why it's picked up."

Ohio State is another program that have long shown interest in Conrad despite holding out on an offer.

With a pair of camp experiences under his belt, Conrad said he has kept in touch with both Buckeyes' tight ends coach Tim Hinton and running backs coach Stan Drayton. When he visits, he's hoping to expand on that.

"I had some of my best days there," Conrad said of his Ohio State camp experiences. "I talk with Coach Hinton and with Coach Drayton — we have a good relationship. I know everything about Ohio State."

What he hasn't done in Columbus, though, is watch a practice. It's what Conrad said he is looking forward to most about this trip.

"I've never been to a practice before, and things have changed with the whole [Connecticut tight end] Chris Clark [committing to North Carolina] thing. I'm just excited obviously for the visit," Conrad said. "I just love to see how the pace is and how the coaches are going to be throughout the practice.

"I'm going to see the technique they teach and stuff like that. Besides practice, I just want to know where I stand with them. If I have to camp for an offer, I will."

The mindset of camping to gain an offer is not unique to the Buckeyes, as Conrad added he already has camp dates set for Michigan and Michigan State. He added he would camp at Penn State if asked.


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