Malibu High running back commits to Princeton University

Malibu High School senior running back Sean Conrad has been recruited to play football at Princeton University next year.

Conrad was the center of the Malibu High Sharks’ offense, finishing the season with 1,874 rushing yards, despite injury, 40th in the state of California, according to Maxpreps.com. Conrad’s 208.2 yards per game ranked him sixth in the state, and his 8.76 yards per attempt placed him at 21st in California. Conrad also tied for the third longest touchdown in the state, from 95 yards out, and finished with 19 touchdowns for the season.

Several colleges recognized Conrad’s performance this past season and last week he announced he would be attending Princeton University in the fall to play football. Conrad said he is honored to play at a school with such a prestigious academic history, and looks forward to the challenge.

“I wanted to go to a school that had a great academic reputation, and I’m really excited to go to Princeton to play football,” Conrad said.

Despite the opportunity to play football, Conrad said he realizes that balancing schoolwork with football is going to be a challenge at an Ivy League school. “I have to keep my grades up,” he said. “It will be a struggle.”

Malibu Sharks head coach Ray Humphrey has helped to instill Conrad with a strong work ethic, and said he has tried to impress upon Conrad the importance of life outside of football.

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“The next level is no joke,” Humphrey said. “[Princeton] is big, and they play really good ball over there. The school is very demanding, and [Conrad] is going to have to work hard to make sure his grades are right. He’s not going to have a moment’s rest, but he’s going to come out with a great education.”

Despite the challenge, Humphrey said he has complete confidence in Conrad for the future. “I think he’s going to do really well. Sean’s always been a hard worker, he’s been a varsity player for three years, and he’s always shown the work ethic that has gotten him to where he is today.”

Though Conrad said he enjoys the mid-70s temperatures on a daily basis in Malibu, one of the selling points Princeton held for Conrad was the changes it will bring.

“I wanted a change in scenery, a whole new atmosphere,” he said.

Conrad’s advancement to the next level is not only a significant success for him, but also for the program that fostered him throughout his high school career. Conrad is the second major recruit to come from Malibu High School, the first being defensive-end Matt Nechak who went on to play football for the Navy.

“It’s good for the school, it’s good for the football program, and for what I’ve been trying to build here and what [former Malibu coach Rich] Lawson started 13 years ago,” Humphrey said. “Sean is the second major recruit to come out of here, and it always reflects well when we get players moving on to the next level.”

Though Humphrey said he is happy for Conrad’s success, he realizes the daunting challenge that comes with replacing such a dominant player. Along with Conrad, the program is also losing several offensive threats, including full back Jake Wisnicki, tight end Justin Hale and wide receiver Mario Johnson, as well as cornerback Juan Anderson, kicker Jonny Palmer, and linemen Niall Velasquez, Brennan Lowe and Austin Rowen. Despite these losses, Humphrey said he is confident that the incoming seniors can make up for these holes in the roster.

“We still have a lot of guys who are working hard, with [safety] Ryan Houge, [running back] Jackson Wirht, [safety] Austin Scott, and [quarterback] Victor Tyler, and we have 14 guys that are going to return who played a lot on the varsity level last year,” Humphrey said.

Last season, Malibu was notorious for its running game, and Humphrey said he hopes to capitalize upon his returning players to restore the Sharks’ ground presence. A majority of the offensive line is returning, including Kyle Parker, Nat Flor, Hap Henry, John Schnieder and Sean Conrad’s brother, Jesse Conrad, all of whom helped clear the path for Conrad’s school record-breaking runs. The Sharks will rely on running back Wirht to replace some of Conrad’s offensive presence, as well as quarterback Tyler to provide a more formidable passing game. Humphrey said he hopes that Conrad’s success will put Malibu on the map as a football program to be reckoned with and attract players.

“We need guys to come back out,” Humphrey said. “I’m hoping that now people understand that people do get recruited out of Malibu.”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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