Fall Camp Report: Running Backs
GoRedbirds.com features Redbird football on its team bowling outing as a kick off to spring camp. Watch Coach Conard and two Redbird players discuss what this event means to the team.
GoRedbirds.com features a positional breakdown of defensive backs during the 2010 Redbird football fall camp.
Former Purdue defensive back Lamar Conard is in his fourth season as an assistant coach and begins his second season mentoring the running backs. Conard spent his previous two seasons at ISU assisting with the Redbird secondary. He also serves as the recruiting coordinator for the Redbird football program.
In 2011, the Redbird rushing attack improved by nearly 50 yards per game from 2010 and averaged 183 yards per game on the ground. The ISU backs accounted for 2,017 yards on the ground and 19 touchdowns, the most for the team since 2008.
Under his tutelage, Ashton Leggett became 11th running back in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since 2006 with his 1,031 yards on the ground. Leggett also rushed for 11 touchdowns (T-7th on single season list) on way to being named an All-MVFC Second-Team selection. In two season working with Conard, Leggett amassed 1,630 rushing yards (16th all-time) and 19 rushing touchdowns (T-7th all-time).
Conard took over as the running backs coach in 2010 and inhered a group of talented veteran backs. Erik Smith (4.6) and Leggett (4.3) each averaged over four yards per carry in 2010 and combined to rush for 12 touchdowns and 1,255 yards in the wide-open Redbird spread offense.
In his first two seasons with the Redbirds, Conard helped mentor a unit that recorded 27 interceptions, after the team recorded just nine interceptions during the previous two seasons. He also helped E.J. Jones develop into one of the best cornerbacks in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Jones intercepted a league-high seven passes in 2010 on way to being named a First Team All-MVFC selection and finished his career with 13 interceptions, all of which came in his last two seasons while working with Conard.
In 2009, the Redbird secondary accounted for 12 of the team's 14 interceptions, led by Jones' six picks. Chris Garrett was close behind with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and safeties Kelvyn Hemphill and Jermaine Malcolm collected the other two. For their efforts, Hemphill, Jones and Garrett were named All-MVFC selections, with Hemphill earning second team honors and Jones and Garrett each garnering honorable-mention nods.
Conard came to Illinois State following a two-year graduate assistantship at Purdue, where he also coached the Boilermaker defensive backs and coordinated the scout team offense.
Conard served as a graduate assistant at Purdue from 2007-08 on former Boilermaker head coach Joe Tiller's staff. Working directly with Purdue's defensive backs, Conard reported to Illinois State head coach Brock Spack, who was then the Boilermakers' defensive coordinator.
Conard also coordinated the scout team offense after spending one season in a quality-control position, where he assisted with scouting, operations and recruiting.
Conard was a defensive back for the Boilermakers from 1996-99. He was the first walk-on at Purdue to be awarded a scholarship under Tiller, doing so in 1997.
Conard was a three-year starter and played in all 37 games during his final three seasons. His career totals included 118 tackles (68 solo, 50 assists), six pass breakups and four interceptions.
A native of Elkhart, Ind., Conard earned a bachelor's degree in childhood development and family studies from Purdue in 2000 and earned a master's degree in educational leadership from Purdue in 2009.
Conard and his wife, Rachel, reside in Normal, Ill., with his son, Lamar Jr., and their daughter, Della Mae.