New player making splash for Fayetteville
FAYETTEVILLE — A firstyear player is taking pressure off first-year starting quarterback Darius Bowers.
Bowers, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior, is excited about the emergence of senior receiver Jon Conley, who hasn’t played football since he was a freshman at Ramay Junior High.
“Jon Conley is going to be a great asset for us,” Bowers said. “He’s fast and agile, and I don’t think one person can tackle him. Jon always shows flashes of what he can do, whether it’s a little screen pass, or a fade route, we always want to get him the ball because he can do something with it.
“He can be a difference-maker for us. He’s a weapon.”
Conley (6-1, 170) comes from a family steeped with athletic ability. His father, Mike Conley Sr., is a former world champion in the triple jump. His brother, Mike Conley Jr., stars for the Memphis Grizzlies and is one of the highest paid players in the NBA. His sister, Sidney Conley, is an AllAmerican sprinter at Kansas.
Still, Jon Conley has had to overcome a learning curve in his return to the gridiron and credited first-year Bulldogs coach Billy Dawson and his staff with easing him into the offense.
“The coaches have done a good job of helping me,” Conley said, “They’re really putting everything in front of me to where it’s simple for me to where I know my job on a particular play, so it’s been good.”
Conley said he needed the time off “to get my body right” after a couple of injuries. Now, he said the biggest challenge is getting into “football shape and being able to take hits, run and catch in pads and that kind of thing.”
Dawson said he’s hopeful Conley can contribute in a major way to an offense that returns four starters off last season’s state championship team.
“Jon has been out a few years, so he’s just learning the game,” Dawson said. “We hope he can give us a vertical threat on the edge and he’s pretty physical, too. I’ve enjoyed watching him progress through the spring and now to where we are.”
Fayetteville quarterback Darius Bowers (right) participates in drills Wednesday during practice at Harmon Stadium in Fayetteville.