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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh still remembers playing in Commonwealth Stadium when he was a freshman at Auburn in 1995 and UK had Moe Williams as its star running back.
“I remember him being really good and my coach telling me about him. The first play he told me not to reach. I remember him (Williams) running through the hole. I reached out and he about tore my shoulder off. I can remember that even now,” said Brumbaugh. “I don’t remember much more other than it was a night game. But I remember that first play.”
He’ll also likely never forget his first game in Commonwealth as a UK coach even if it was the spring game because of the fan.
“I have been part of walks before a lot of games, but I have never been down a walk like we had at the Cat Walk before the spring game. That was unbelievable,” Brumbaugh said. “That kind of enthusiasm and passion for the game is unbelievable. I go to Florida to recruit and kids are talking about us having close to 51,000 at the spring game. That is all over. Everybody thinks this is a basketball school, but people here are talking football and supporting football.”
Brumbaugh was an all-Southeastern Conference defensive tackle at Auburn where he started 44 of 48 games and had 291 tackles and three times made the all-SEC team. Brumbaugh signed a free-agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers in 2000, but spent most of his pro career in the XFL with the Birmingham Bolts and in arena football with the Georgia Force and Birmingham Steel Dogs.
Brumbaugh, who was also a member of LSU’s staff during its national championship in 2007 when the Tigers were upset at UK, says his playing time at Auburn gives him credibility with players.
“I think it does. Anytime a guy has gone through the same situation you have, you are more adamant listening to what that guy who has been there doing that,” Brumbaugh said. “I have been in every battle they are going through. The more success that your guys have, the better your selling points are. That is what I teach. I try to drill fundamentals in practice and if I get a good game clip and they see they are basically doing that drill in a game and having success, they will listen.”
Often those spring practice drills included Brumbaugh not only teaching, but participating with his linemen — something they all liked and respected.
“That is just part of what I do. I am a teacher of the game. I am a visual guy,” Brumbaugh, a Florida native, said. “A lot of times if I can do something, they get a better understanding of what I am trying to get done and they understand and learn more. I get more quality reps and once they understand, then I can get quantity (reps). I am young and can still do that now. It might be different when I get older.”
Brumbaugh’s most recent BCS stop was a two-year stint at Syracuse University, where he coached the defensive tackles in 2011 and the defensive line in 2010. Prior to his time at Syracuse, Brumbaugh coached the defensive line at Louisiana Tech in 2008 and 2009.
At LSU, he was assistant strength and conditioning coordinator in 2006 and 2007. That gives him a perspective most college assistant coaches don’t have. He said the lifts he had players do lead to explosiveness needed in the defensive line.
“I can reference those kind of situations. It’s a toughness aspect not everyone can appreciate,” Brumbaugh said. “It’s not easy to play defensive line. It’s not an easy position at all. If you bring a whole bunch of kids to camp and there are balls laying there a couple of sleds, every kid getting off the buss wants a ball to throw around. Hardly anyone will go down and want to punch sleds.
“It’s tough being a defensive lineman. My wife gets on me because I will be walking in somewhere and will just swat something. I’ve always done that and it is natural to me. Walk by me and touch me, I put my hand up. It’s just natural for me to do that. It’s just a reaction thing, something I have done all my life. Those are learned habits. Once you become a defensive lineman, you understand those kind of situations.”