Less than two years ago, C.J. Conrad was a 175-pound wide receiver.
This fall, he'll be expected to line up at tight end against Southeastern Conference competition.
Conrad — an early enrollee in UK's class of 2015 — put on 30 pounds between his sophomore and junior seasons, then another 15 before his senior year. He also had to learn a new position.
"My junior year was a big transition from never even putting my hand on the ground to putting my hand on the ground all the time," Conrad said Wednesday. "Then my senior year I got a lot better and got way more comfortable, and now I'm just ready to improve some more here."
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The Cats are going to need him.
UK got little production from the tight end position in 2014, and Conrad and redshirt freshman Darryl Long will be the team's only available tight ends in 2015, barring an unexpected ruling from the NCAA to grant transfer Greg Hart immediate eligibility.
Conrad — a top-10 tight end nationally in the class of 2015 — knew the situation coming in.
In fact, the probability that he would get some immediate playing time is one of the reasons he committed to UK in the first place.
Tight ends coach Vince Marrow was also Conrad's primary recruiter, and he said Wednesday that he didn't want to put too much pressure on the young player.
Conrad is fine with expectations.
"I think that's the biggest reason why I (enrolled) early," he said. "If I came in the summer I feel like maybe I'd have a little bit more pressure just because I didn't have enough time to get myself ready.
"I'm just trying to put that extra work in to get myself as ready as possible this spring and fall camp."
Conrad says he's put on about 8 more pounds of "good weight" since arriving in Lexington last month.
The 6-foot-5 prospect is one of only two four-star players in UK's 23-man class, according to Rivals.com.
Unlike many of the other highly touted commitments that the program lost down the stretch, Conrad didn't second guess his pledge to the Cats.
"I just saw the progress that we've made in the last two years from 2-10 to 5-7," he said, "and I think it's only gonna get better."