Featured Athlete
Brad Connor
Brad Connor
Football
September 24, 2014

Hometown: Bloomington, Ill.
High School: Bloomington Central Catholic
Major: Sport Management


It hasn't been the start the St. Ambrose football team wanted. Especially offensively.

An offense still looking to find its rhythm has led to an 0-2 start and dropped the Bees from the NAIA Coaches' top-25 poll for the first time in three years.

But one of the offensive bright spots has been the play of senior wide receiver Brad Connor.

Through two games, Connor has caught 16 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. He is eighth in the NAIA in receptions and 18th in receiving yards at 105.5 yards per game. He is also fourth nationally by averaging 21.7 yards on three punt returns.

But the 0-2 start overshadows any of his personal achievements.

"We just keep coming out of the gates soft," said Connor. "Against Taylor, I think it was some first-game jitters. Then we were down 14-0 to Saint Francis so quickly.

"But I think some good things came out of last week's loss," he continued. "You never want to lose, but some people really stepped up, especially in the second half. We have the pieces, we just have to put them all together."

After digging themselves that early 14-0 hole, SAU tied USF 13-13 over the final three quarters in a 27-13 loss. That came on the heels of SAU's season-opening 23-13 loss at Taylor, a team playing its third game of the year.

Some of the struggles can be attributed to the difficult schedule and the fact that only four starters returned from last year's team.

Twenty-five seniors graduated from 2013, including All-American quarterback Eric Williamson, who holds virtually all SAU passing records.

This year, fifth-year senior Eric Schaab and redshirt sophomore Patrick Smith are splitting time under center, alternating series through the first two games. But the constant change has not bothered Connor.

"People look at it like it throws us off, but no. That's not true. They are both capable and they both are versatile in their own way. They both put the ball where it needs to be. They trust the wide receivers and we trust them. And if anything, it makes a defense have to prepare for two different quarterbacks."

Connor hopes the Bees put it all together this Saturday with a game at Concordia (Mich.).

"This is a long bus ride but it will be kinda fun. It will give us a chance to get more cohesive as a group," he said. "We have a great team. We've shown glimpses and we've moved the ball, but then will commit a penalty or a turnover and shoot ourselves in the foot. We just need to get our swagger back. We've put our defense in some bad spots this season, and they've been tremendous and picked us up. Now it's our turn to help them out."

Along with looking to help the Bees get their first win of the campaign, Connor also has a chance to reach a couple of personal milestones Saturday. He needs just 55 receiving yards to become the 18th Bee to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a career, and he is just two touchdown receptions away from 11 in his career, which would tie him for 10th on the school's all-time list.

"It's cool but it's nothing in my mind. After college, years from now, maybe I'll look back and and see it was a nice feat. But for now, the goal is to win; it's not personal."

Even with the slow start, for a team that has reached the NAIA playoffs 10 times since 2000, the goal remains the same.

"We know 0-2 is not good, but we haven't played a conference game yet. Nothing has changed. If anything, maybe this could prove to be a blessing in disguise. We have a bigger chip on our shoulder now we just need to go out and get a W."