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By LARRY VAUGHT
All of us have so much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. However, I got to thinking today about the Kentucky football team and SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Senior Day and came up with my own special list of reasons to be thankful for this senior class.
Here are some of my special thanks as I spend time today with my family in Nashville:
Ã¢â‚¬â€ I am thankful I got to know running back Alfonso Smith, who overcame a horrible home life in California thanks to a move to live with his sister in Louisville and has been a joy to be around.Ã‚Â Just this week he was named to the SEC Good Works Team becauseÃ‚Â he has put in over 200 hours of community service with his Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, has been a visitor and guest speaker at numerous schools and events, participated in a fundraiser for the homeless in Lexington and volunteered with the Salvation Army by serving as a bellringer, selling baked goods and donating his own clothing.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ I am thankful I got to know guard Christian Johnson. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sometimes frustrated his coaches with his weight and academics, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always been honest and courteous with me. He was never jealous of his younger brother, Micah, and never blamed others for his mistakes. He came back this year and has made a huge difference for the Cats.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ I am thankful I got to watch John Conner play and see the example he set. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gone from a walk-on player to a NFL prospect without drawing attention to himself or even touching the ball often. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the ultimate team player.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ I am thankful I got to watch cornerback Trevard Lindley not only make so many game-changing plays, but also got to see him go from a shy, introverted freshman to a much more outgoing, engaging senior.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ I am thankful I got to be around defensive tackle Corey Peters. It seems like he never got the credit he was due, but he never cared. He was all about winning. He constantly praised others, downplayed his contributions and always supported his coaches. He was a daily pleasure to be around.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ I am thankful I got to see linebacker Sam Maxwell finally get his chance to be a full-time starter and then put together a monster season that should earn him a spot in a NFL training camp. His patience is a rare quality in todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s college game. He played his role, learned his lessons and became a star.
My list could go on an on because I am a softy when it comes to good kids Ã¢â‚¬â€ and this senior class is full of good kids. But it is also full of good players considering UK has had four straight winning season of at least seven wins for the first time since 1909-1912, won three straight bowls for the first time ever, beat two top-10 teams, won a school-record 18 straight non-conference games and, most impressively, been part of 12 come from behind wins in the fourth quarter.
So as we celebrate Thanksgiving, take time to let this senior class know what you are thankful for when it comes to them. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s have a celebration thread Ã¢â‚¬â€ we know Christian Johnson visits here and can let his teammates know about the site Ã¢â‚¬â€ for you to show these seniors how much you truly appreciate them.