July 8, 2010

Coach's Corner: Chris Conley

North Paulding coach Heath Bell can't say enough good things about star wide receiver Chris Conley.

Conley, who became Georgia's first wide receiver commitment several months ago, plans on enrolling early at UGA come January.

What are the Georgia Bulldogs getting in Chris Conley?

"It is obvious that Chris is a good kid to be the first one to get all of the attention for our program. He has always been the guy that is quick to praise his school, praise his coaches, and praise his teammates. That is what we want our program to be about. He has had every opportunity to talk about himself, and instead he has given credit where he thinks it is due.

Talk about the improvement he's made over the course of his career

"When he came to us he had never played the game before, and when we first got him we were throwing balls at him and he could not catch a thing. He is just one of those kids that when he puts his mind to it, he is going to work his tail off to be successful at it. That is exactly what he has done. He has went from a kid that is awkward and had poor hands to a kid who is obviously very explosive and athletic, and his hands are now the best asset to his game at this point. That is all a credit to him. I would love to say it is all coaching, but he is a good football player who has put in the time and effort that it took to be successful."

Can you talk about his ethic and what he does to try and make himself a better player?

"Moving forward, I do not worry about him at all. He has such a strong work ethic and desire to be successful, that I know he will make it no matter what because of the way he works and dedication that he has."

What part of Chris' game needs improving?

"I think that the thing he is missing right now is elusiveness. Obviously when he gets the ball in open space, he is as good as anybody. I think the thing he needs to be able to do is catch a short to intermediate route, face up a defender, and give him a move and then run by him. That seems to be the only thing he is missing in my opinion. His hands, speed, and leaping ability are all outstanding, but his elusiveness is not at that level just yet."

What are his career stats?

"He has caught 151 balls for us the last two years."

What does Chris do to make your team better?

"I think as a team, we are getting better. The guys around Chris are more athletic, and they have grown up just as he has grown up. The last two years, we have seen a lot of double coverage on Chris, a lot of blanket coverage on him in space and an extra defender back behind him, so any time he touched the ball he had two guys on him immediately. What is going to change that is the rest of our receivers and backs have gotten better. Teams are not going to be able to do that anymore. We have Joey Elizer, another 2011 wide receiver with an offer from Illinois, on the other side. If teams try to double cover Chris, then we are going to beat them with Joey. I do not think teams will be able to schematically play us the same as in the past, simply because our team speed and strength and athleticism have gotten much better. In 2008 we are playing with only 14-and 15-years-olds, then in 2009 with 16 year olds, and those kids have grown up now."

What does Georgia see in Chris?

"Coach (Tony) Ball and I have been in constant contact pretty much throughout this entire process, and he told me when they offered Chris at a camp last June, that they saw a raw, athletic kid with a ton of ability. Then when he saw him at the exact same Mark Richt Camp in 2010, he said he saw a kid that had developed from an athlete into a true wide receiver. He is very excited about the progress Chris has made and he felt like as an early enrollee he should be able to compete for some serious playing time as a freshman."

Has it hit you that this will be Chris' final year on your squad?

"My thoughts on Chris being gone next year are that it is really going to be lonely more than anything. Being the dedicated worker that he is, he came in during the offseason and worked with me every day. He came in and sat down in my office every morning before school and watched film of what he was doing, of other college players and college schemes. If we were not watching film we were working on balls drills or running routes. It will be strange going into my office in the morning with him not sitting there waiting on me to coach him up. For me, it is going to be odd to not have Chris Conley around."

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