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By LARRY VAUGHT
SIMPSONVILLE — Jeremy Jarmon started 31 games during his three-year playing career at the University of Kentucky and earned all-Southeastern Conference honors his junior year when he had 38 tackles, including 10 for a loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks.
The Tennessee native had his UK career cut short when he tested positive for a banned supplement he purchased as an over the counter dietary aid at a Lexington nutrition store and the NCAA suspended him for his senior year. He entered the NFL supplemental draft and was taken with a third round pick by the Washington Redskins. He spent two years in Washington before being traded to Denver and later cut from the team.
Now he’s retired from the NFL and recently became director of player relations for the UK football team under coach Joker Phillips. He was in Simpsonville Thursday for the Governor’s Cup press conference promoting the UK-Louisville game Sept. 2 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Question: Does your new job include duties where you might be out speaking and spreading the word about UK football?
Jarmon: “That is something pending the direction they see me going. That is something I can’t rule out if they want to use me in that kind of role. It is something I would definitely embrace. For the time being, I am just do the things they ask me to do and if and when that opportunity presents itself, I will take it.”
Question: Wouldn’t it be good for Kentucky to have a person like yourself available during the season to talk to fans and sell UK football?
Jarmon: “I believe in UK football not only because I played here and was part of it, but because I did have success. I saw how close we were. A couple of players away, couple of injuries here and there that prevented us from having a couple more upsets. And a couple more upsets, you are talking BCS bowl game. To get a taste and experiences I had, particularly in those 2007-08 season, I just knew how close we were. That is the message that I have. UK football is not as far off as some people think. We had a graduating class that all they saw was bowl games in four years. That is the start of building tradition. When you can look at say every December or every January you are going to a bowl game, that is special. That is what we are trying to do and get back on board that ship to where we are going to bowl games on a consistent basis and then you build from there.”
Question: With all the possible career directions you talked about maybe going during your UK playing career, what has you back in football in an administrative role?
Jarmon: “You are not remembering wrong. I have always been interested in a lot of different things. What path and what route I wanted to go down, I didn’t know. I am interested in politics. I was a political science major. I was interested in the military, but I didn’t go join the Marines like I thought I would when I was in high school. I was in the Thespian Honor Society. I don’t plan on going down the road of being an actor any time soon.
“Being here at UK and being in the NFL for three years, I really became fascinated by the front office aspect of running a football team or organization. As I got to know people here at UK as well as Washington and the contacts I still have at Denver, it just seemed like the way I kind of bonded with those kind of people was a natural fit for me. Here at UK is a great start for me in this position and role. I am really going to try and bring the community and campus a little closer with UK football and help put our message out there and help build our players into even higher character individuals to where they have good interaction with the community, teachers and different department personnel.”
Question: Do you sense this could be a better season than many analysts/fans are expecting based on what you are hearing from coaches and players?
Jarmon: “Absolutely. And that is what is fun about athletics. Sometimes people don’t have as optimistic approach going into a season and there is always room for surprises. I think this team is more than capable of pulling off some upsets or beating teams that we beat in the past couple of years. We have young players and it is going to be fun to watch these young players have the opportunity to step up and make big plays. And it is going to happen. You are going to see freshmen, sophomores make big plays this year. They are going to build on that and those are the kind of plays that build and propel them into a mindset that this is what I need to be doing on a consistent basis.
“The only way that happens is by playing your young players and taking chances. I remember the chance they took with me as a freshman when I saw extensive minutes when we had injuries. In the Vanderbilt game I gave up a touchdown on a reverse end-around. I came to the sideline and coach (Rich) Brooks was furious at me. I went out and had two sacks in the fourth quarter, maybe one in third and fourth, but I knew in my mind I needed to make up for that. That mistake helped elevate me into a better player. Coach Brooks was so disappointed. He told me that it was coming. I was a freshman at the time and built on that and rolled that into my sophomore and junior years.”
Question: Even though you are not allowed on the field to coach, how much could it help players just to have you around to share experiences like that with them?
Jarmon: “I will be able to share those kinds of things with the guys. I will be able to share with them some of the relationships I had with my coaches and examples of disagreements I had with my coaches that we handled behind the scenes that other people didn’t need to see. Situations in which I was wrong and needed to look at something from a different standpoint. You don’t always see those things as a player, especially a young player coming out 17 or 18 years old where all you have been told is ‘good job’ or ‘just go play.’ Now you are accountable and your actions, mistakes impact everybody.”
Question: Even though you are a Tennessee guy, is there something special about Kentucky-Louisville for you?
Jarmon: “Absolutely. This is an important game and with it being the first game of the year is the most important game of the season. The guys know that on both sides. (Louisville) Coach Charlie Strong and his guys know that as well as our staff over at Kentucky. It is a big one. Everybody is fired up and looking forward to Sept. 2.”