Blue Springs High School football coach Kelly Donohoe knew that one signee – during Wednesday’s National Signing Day – would not be late for the ceremony at the school’s Performing Arts Center.
That’s because two-time all-state lineman Conrad Rowley, who anchored one of the top lines in the history of the storied football program, arrives at school each morning at 5 a.m.
That’s right – 5 a.m.
“I’m three weeks in, and I’m becoming a beast,” quipped Rowley, who is never at a loss for a colorful quote. “It’s a 20-week program, and at the end, I’m going to be a monster!”
The program is part of a program sent by the Big Ten’s Northwestern University – or, as he prefers to call it, “The Northwestern University.”
That’s an inside joke with one of his best friends and longtime teammate Jack Johnson, who signed Wednesday to play at Northwestern College in Iowa.
“It’s a complete weight training program that is really going to get me ready for college and football in the Big 10,” Rowley said. “I’m doing the power clean, incline bench, squats, every lift you can think of – it’s a complete body workout and it’s been pretty incredible.”
Another incredible aspect of the training is that Blue Springs offensive line coach Joel Page has been there for most of the workouts.
“Coach Page is amazing,” Rowley said. “I don’t need any extra motivation to be at the morning workouts, but I know he’s going to be there so I better get my butt out of bed and be there, too.”
Rowley has been a standout at Blue Springs for three years, and exceeded any expectations of the Wildcats coaching staff, who first heard about him in middle school.
“We knew about him when he got to Sunny Vale (now Paul Kinder) Middle School,” Donohoe said. “We heard great things about him and he has lived up to, or exceeded, all our expectations.
“First, just look at him. He is a great player – one of the most highly recruited linemen in the state and one of the most highly recruited players in the history of our program.
“But he has become a great leader, a great teammate, a great student – you know he’s a great student going to a university like Northwestern – and a guy you like to just see walk into the locker room. We’re going to miss Big Conrad!”
And he’s going to miss his Blue Springs “brothers.”
“Here, at Blue Springs High School, we’re brothers, and I’m going to miss my brothers and our coaches, but when I visited Northwestern, I got that same feeling,” Rowley said. “Today (signing day) is one of the biggest days of my life.
“It’s one of those memorable days you never forget. You get to share if with your family, and I have an amazing family, my football family and all our friends who came out to support us.
“I’m facing one of the biggest challenges of my life, and it gets me so excited. I’ve gotten so much bigger, so much stronger just over the past three weeks – I can’t even imagine where I’ll be over the next four years.”