Kyle Conner is in his fourth year as the Hoosiers' tight ends coach. He is in his first season working with the tackles after assisting with the offensive line in 2009. Conner spent the 2006 campaign, his first with Indiana, in charge of quality control for the offensive staff, before earning a promotion to assistant coach prior to the 2007 season.
Two of the players Conner worked with were either drafted or signed an NFL free-agent deal following the 2009 campaign. Left tackle Rodger Saffold was selected with the first pick in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He became Indiana's highest draft pick since defensive end Nathan Davis (32nd pick, 1997). Tight end Troy Wagner signed a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Browns in April.
The Hoosier tight ends turned in a productive 2009, as sophomore Max Dedmond and Wagner combined for 24 catches, 217 yards and two scores. Dedmond hauled in 18 receptions for 141 yards - the highest totals for an IU tight end since Aaron Halterman in 2003 (19 for 193) - and became the first Indiana tight end to reach the end zone since Nick Sexton in 2005.
IU's offensive line allowed just 16 sacks on the season, a total that ranked second in the Big Ten and shared 28th nationally. The Hoosiers' front five surrendered one sack per 27.5 pass attempts, which ranked second in the Big Ten.
Indiana finished second in conference games only with 262.4 passing yards per game and fourth in overall games, and 35th nationally with 247.9 passing yards per game. IU rushed for over 180 yards on four occasions, including a 197 yards at No. 23 Michigan and 196 yards vs. Purdue. The 197 yards were the Hoosiers' second-highest rushing total in 60 all-time games vs. Michigan.
Saffold earned second team All-Big Ten honors from the conference media following the campaign, the first All-Big Ten Hoosier offensive lineman since Enoch Demar (second team, 2002). He also participated in the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and in the 2010 East-West Shrine Game.
The tight ends are also a crucial part of the Hoosier rushing attack. In 2008, Indiana broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark (2,003 yards - sixth in the Big Ten) for the second straight year, the first time since 2000 and 2001 an IU team produced back-to-back 2,000-yard rushing seasons. The Hoosiers averaged 4.5 yards per carry and carded 19 rushing scores, their best numbers since 2001 (5.5, 33). Indiana rushed for over 250 yards four times with a season-best 297 yards in the season-opening win over Western Kentucky.
IU averaged 157.4 yards per game in 2007 and went over 100 yards nine times and over 200 yards five times. The tight ends also played critical blocking roles on special teams, helping the field goal and extra point units put together the finest season in school history. Kicker Austin Starr, holder Dustin Hass and long snapper Tim Bugg went 21-for-23 on field goals and a perfect 49-for-49 on extra points. Starr was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award.
In 2006, the Hoosiers scored their most points (277) since 2001. Indiana averaged 23.1 points, 335.9 yards and 222.1 passing yards per game. IU scored over 30 points three times and at least 24 points on seven occasions.
Conner came to IU following nearly a decade at Butler University. He spent the 2005 season as the co-offensive coordinator after serving as tight ends coach in 2002 and the wide receivers coach in 2003 and 2004.
A two-time all-conference wide receiver with the Bulldogs (1999-00), Conner finished his career third on Butler's all-time pass receptions list (124). He owned the second-highest single-season receptions total (63 in 2000) in Bulldogs history and the third-highest single-season receiving yardage total (876 in 2000). He set a Butler single-game record with 260 yards against San Diego as a senior, and he finished his career with Butler's fourth-highest all-time receiving yardage total (1,801).
Conner earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Butler in 2001. Kyle and his wife, Angela, have one son, Kyle II (3), and one daughter, Ava (1).
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