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Vaught’s note: Jordan Aumiller, a player I’ve watched since middle school at Boyle County, plays his final game at Kentucky Saturday. He’s a prime example of a youngster who grows into a man, accepts his role on the team even when he doesn’t like it, fights through adversity and has loved his time wearing the blue. If you need something to pick you up after last week’s disciplinary issues and the blowout loss at Georgia, I hope you enjoy this.
By LARRY VAUGHT
For several weeks Jordan Aumiller has been thinking what his final game at Commonwealth Stadium — and playing for Kentucky — would be like.
Now that time is almost here for the senior tight end from Boyle County as his final collegiate game comes Saturday night when UK hosts Tennessee.
“It has been a long journey. I have had a lot of good times, met a lot of good people and made a lot of life-long friends,” said Aumiller. “One of my high school coaches, Jeff Hester, told me my career should be about making memories, meeting people and having good experiences. The wins have not been here like I dreamed of, but I have tried to take advantage of the journey.”
He was recruited to play linebacker, redshirted his first year and the moved to tight end where he earned freshman All-America honors (18 catches for 193 yards and one score) — and made a huge catch to help secure a win over Louisville. However, injuries limited his play and then he found himself playing little because the previous coaching staff said he was not physical enough, especially blocking. However, with the arrival of coach Mark Stoops and his staff, Aumiller has been a fixture again on the field — and even praised as the team’s best blocking tight end. He did not catch a pass in 2011 or 2012, but has nine catches for 82 yards this season.
“Your perspective changes as you get older. Your career goes by so fast. You can only control so much and you just try to do what is asked of you each and every day,” Aumiller said. “I just hope we can end this the right way.”
Kentucky is only 2-9 and coming off a 59-17 loss at Georgia in a game where three players were suspended for disciplinary reasons. That follows a 2-10 mark in 2012.
“I came to school to play football and have had some memorable times — being in the locker room after wins, traveling and all the little things that were so much fun. There’s just nothing like being with your team after a win,” Aumiller, who played in 23 games his first two seasons but only three in 2012, said. “I made friends from Texas, Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia. I even met some great people outside football.
“This year has definitely been a lot more fun. It sounds bad even though we have lost so many games, but I have just tried to make the most of every moment. We have been so close here and there to winning more. Hopefully, I have made an impression on some underclassmen even though this is my last year. I have just continued to work hard. I have just tried to make the most of my senior year. Coach Stoops has been awesome, along with the rest of his staff.
“Our team is better this year. Just look at most of the scores and compare them to last year. We’ve had so many opportunities tow in games. The program is going the right direction. Next year and the years to come, you will see a lot of improvement. Coach Stoops and his staff know what they are doing.”
Offensive coordinator Neal Brown has constantly praised Aumiller’s leadership this season.
“Somehow, I hope I have made a difference for somebody. I want to look back in a few years and think I had an impact on this freshman class that will help turn this program back around,” Aumiller, who plans to “relax and review his career options” in the months ahead, said.
His brother, Grant, joined the team as a walk-on defensive player this season, and that has been special for Aumiller.
“We go against each other in practice. He does a great job on the scout team. He works hard and sets goal. He plays a million miles an hour just like he did at Boyle County. He has not changed and having him here has been fun,” Aumiller said.
He’s also appreciated the way hometown fans, and UK fans in general, have supported him.
“It has been awesome and I have loved every minute of it. My parents have always met random people in the community supporting us,” Aumiller said. “That is really cool. I think a lot of people just realize how hard we work and all the effort that goes into this. We just love the support, and it will only get better.”
But Saturday is it for Aumiller. His best ending would be a win over Tennessee to duplicate the one UK had two years ago.
“That was awesome two years ago. This is a big game, big day,” Aumiller said. “It’s just so weird it is all about to come to an end for me.”
However, he won’t look back with any regrets at anything that happened on or off the field during his career.
“It was an honor to play for my home state and represent the name on the front and back of the jersey,” Aumiller said. “The wins were not here like I wanted, but I always played for pride and loved getting to play for Kentucky. No regrets at all for me.”