Exclusive interview with Idaho State WR Tanner Conner: NY Jets interest, playing TE, and more

NY Jets, Tanner Conner
NY Jets, Tanner Conner / Loren Orr/GettyImages
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NY Jets, Tanner Conner
NY Jets, Tanner Conner / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Following in his father's footsteps

JF: "Right, and your dad played professional football in the NFL as well. Did that impact your dream growing up?"

TC: "It definitely did. Growing up, you know that your dad was a stud at the University of Oregon and he played for the Seahawks and Rams a little bit, so you want to do what he did and hopefully surpass him as well. Me and my two younger brothers all have aspirations to play professional sports because of him. Having him as a role model has been great. It was tough at times because a lot of people would ask me why I wasn't as good or as big as my dad in high school and early in college, but eventually I developed into the athlete that he was. So now, I'm hoping to surpass his career in the NFL, go beyond that, and be a trailblazer for my family."

JF: "Right, you were kind of a late bloomer as you said. I don't think anyone is poking fun at your size anymore." [laughs]

TC: [laughs] "No, for sure not."

How did Tanner Conner end up playing football at Idaho State?

JF: "Like you said before, when you originally visited with Idaho State, that was initially for track? So how did you end up playing football there as well?"

TC: "I had offers from the University of Washington, Washington State, and then other Big Sky schools just for track. I didn't know if I was going to be able to play football at all, but I knew I wanted to. And so I just went to every single school. Now, this was around late June or July, so pretty late in the recruiting process. I just kept asking, 'Can I play football? Will you let me play football? Will you give me a connection with the coaches?' And they kept telling me, 'no.' I was denied like six times. Then I got to Idaho State which was my last visit, and Hillary Merkley, who's the head track coach there, she was a dual-sport athlete in college so she understood my passion and my dream. On my visit there, she took me to the coach's office and I asked them to take a look at my film and tell me what they thought. I went out to lunch with Hillary, and then two hours later they called her and told us to come back. Then they offered me a scholarship and I became a scholarship football athlete and a walk-on track athlete. I did both sports for all four years."