Barely a day goes by lately that C.J. Conrad doesn't hear the name Jacob Tamme.
A fan will mention Kentucky's former tight end to the Cats' newest tight end. Conrad will watch film of the star. Heck, Tamme's sister even tutors Conrad for some of his classes.
"I hear Jacob Tamme a lot if that's what you're asking," Conrad said with a quick smile when asked about it on Media Day.
Fans long for the days of Tamme, the homegrown talent from Danville who was picked in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
In Tamme's senior season at Kentucky, the tight end had 56 catches for 619 yards and six touchdowns.
Since then, UK's tight ends collectively have managed 148 catches for 1,563 yards and nine touchdowns.
That's seven season's worth of not much tight end productivity.
In Coach Mark Stoops' first two seasons, the tight end spot has struggled, amassing just 283 yards and a solitary touchdown.
Enter Conrad, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound true freshman from Keystone High School in Ohio. The four-star tight end arrived a semester early, in January, and has been drawing praise ever since.
His position coach isn't ready yet to ordain Conrad the next Jacob Tamme, but he likes what he sees.
"Jacob Tamme's in the NFL, but if you look for potential, I think this kid can be as good as advertised," tight ends coach Vince Marrow said this week. "He has all the tools. He's a good blocker, good size."
The Tamme pressure is a lot to put on either of UK's freshmen tight ends, Conrad and red-shirt freshman Darryl Long.
"They've got to be ready to play and they understand that," Marrow said. "Now comparing him to Tamme? I wouldn't go as far as that. But I can tell you this: For a freshman, he's pretty good."
Conrad has caught the eye of Stoops, who went to Marrow (also UK's recruiting coordinator) and demanded simply "I want length" from the tight end position in their first difficult season.
"He's a guy that the sky's the limit for him," Stoops said after Conrad's first few practices of the spring. "He's a great kid; he works extremely hard. He does everything right on the field, off the field, and he's a great student. He made some big plays today and he's going to be a guy who plays an awful lot of snaps for us."
Kentucky's staff worried that Conrad's progress might have been derailed late in the spring when they noticed he was running gingerly.
"Coach (Tommy) Mainord was calling him 'Hopalong Cassidy' during the spring," Marrow said. "And I thought it was because he took so many reps during the spring."
The practice reports showed Conrad taking a huge amount of snaps, mostly because there isn't much depth at that spot and Long was out with an injury.
Turned out Conrad was hurt, too.
"He's such a tough kid, didn't tell nobody; then he eventually came to me and told me his groin was hurting, so we went and checked him out and found it," Marrow said.
Conrad had a sports hernia in his right groin, which was repaired surgically during the offseason.
Not that he's been cleared to practice again, Marrow said, the surgery might have made Conrad even more impressive.
"He looks more explosive, more strong," Marrow said. "He's just now starting to go full go, but no, he's actually better, stronger right now."
Conrad is running at the No. 1 spot on the depth chart for now. But Long is on his heels.
"Right now, C.J. understands the passing game just a little bit more," Marrow said of Conrad, who had 55 catches for 752 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior season at Keystone.
"C.J. may have just a little bit more understanding of the passing game because he came from a passing offense, but Darryl, is blocking pretty good. So it's a good problem to have with both of them young guys."
A film junkie, Conrad studies tight ends at every level, specifically paying close attention to tight ends like Rob Gronkowksi, Jason Witten and, yes, Tamme.
"They planted him in my head," he said of fans and coaches.
Maybe one day, Cats fans will be clamoring for the next "C.J. Conrad" to arrive at tight end.
But he doesn't worry about all that.
"My expectation is just to try and make as many plays for the tight end position that hasn't been there the past couple of years, things that haven't been happening," Conrad said. "I just want to make a difference there; I just want to help the team as much as possible."