BY AARON SNYDER
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL When in a bind or just in a quest for assured yards, Russell coach T.J. Maynard grew accustomed to drawing up plays for one particular individual.
He shook his head and laughed at the notion of breaking an ingrained pattern.
“We can’t rely on, ‘Hey we’ll just go give it to Nick!’” said Maynard, who coached Nick Conley for three seasons. As a freshman, the four-year starter suited up for Ivan McGlone in a wing-T offense.
Despite diverting course to an approach not as run-heavy, Conley consistently excelled under Maynard’s direction.
He’ll keep his wheels spinning to the college level. The 6-foot, 200pounder signed with Georgetown on Thursday afternoon in the Russell High School library.
Conley knows only one running method. It won’t waver.
“Since I was young, all I’ve known is hit the hole and run hard and refuse to get tackled,” Conley said.
A serious jump in weight-room numbers between his junior and senior seasons paved the way to a bulkier back who didn’t lose a step in speed.
“All it did was help me break more tackles and get away from people,” Conley said. “I wouldn’t say I ever changed my running style because the only way I know how to run the ball is hard.”
Maynard said Conley has always expressed a goal of become an immediate factor in college. He doesn’t want to spectate.
“I think he’ll play some special teams next year and, by sophomore year, he’ll have an opportunity to be in the backfield,” Maynard projected. “I know he’s going to put in the work to put himself in that position.
“More than that, they’re getting a great kid,” added the coach.
Conley is the only rusher in Russell history to attain 1,000 or more yards in each of his four seasons. Second behind Josh Gross in all-time rushing yardage, Conley collected 4,529 yards and 65 touchdowns on the ground as a Red Devil.
Maynard said those numbers could’ve ballooned.
“There were times when, in certain games, when you could’ve gotten him more yards, but he understood that, for the betterment of the team, other guys needed experience and reps,” Maynard said. “He never complained.”
Conley is eager to earn stripes for the Tigers. Under longtime coach Bill Cronin, Georgetown has achieved two NAIA national titles. The Tigers have three overall.
“I really like their coach and the way they run things,” Conley said. “I like the way they play on the field. When it came down to it, it was just the best place for me to go.”
Conley wants to study secondary education and eventually return to the area to become a high school coach.
“That’s my plan right now, anyway,” he said with a grin.
Conley is the third northeastern Kentucky player in a week to sign with Georgetown. Johnson Central’s Noah Frisby and Ashland’s Tate Dowdy will also be Tigers.
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