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By LARRY VAUGHT
For the last two seasons, Jordan Aumiller had to deal with a variety of injuries as well as an offensive coaching staff that lost all faith in his ability to play tight end. The former Boyle County standout went from a fourth team freshman All-American pick by Phil Steele’s College Football with 18 catches for 193 yards and one score in 13 games to playing just 13 games total the next two years with no catches. He started the season-opening game against Western Kentucky in 2011, dropped a pass and then played sparingly after that. Last year he got in just three games when UK went 2-10.
Now Aumiller has a new lease on life going into his senior season thanks to a coaching change that has Neal Brown coordinating the offense and Vince Marrow coaching the tight ends.
“The coaching change was definitely like good for me. I tell some people, there could not have been a better scenario for this whole program. I wish this would have happened four years ago,” said Aumiller. “Nothing against (former UK head) coach (Joker) Phillips and them, but this is a great coaching staff and has us headed in the right direction. This is the third coaching staff for us fifth-year guys, but we are excited and going the right direction. I am healthy and happy.”
Marrow is happy with Aumiller, too.
“When I came in and took the job, I met with all the guys as a group and met with all of them individually and told them this a new start and the guy who works hard, plays hard is going to be in there,” Marrow said. “Jordan, I am surprised he didn’t play at all last year. I was really impressed with Jordan in the spring even though he missed the spring game (due to an injury). Both he and Anthony Kendrick, who had academic trouble last year, just kind of came out of nowhere and really are producing for us right now.”
Marrow says it’s hard not to like Aumiller’s ability in Brown’s spread offense.
“Jordan is a big guy at about 6-5, 240 (pounds). He can really stretch the field a little bit but he is a good blocker. He is really an all-around tight end. A guy that can really block the edge, get out on the perimeter and he has good hands for a big guy,” Marrow said.
One reason the previous coaching staff gave for not playing Aumiller was his inability to block. Marrow has a far different assessment.
“He is our best blocker right now. He has good pad level, good technique. Just got to be consistent. He is a good blocker,” Marrow said. “I challenged him. I sat down and talked to him that I knew he didn’t play last year but I liked his frame. In the spring, he was a guy that came off the ball, had good technique. He is our guy. I love him at that position.”
Aumiller, who had 53 catches for 829 yards and 10 scores at Boyle, didn’t complain publicly last year but those close to him knew the frustration he felt.
“He has worked hard to get through his back injury. I think this coaching staff can see how big a player he can be. He has really good hands, runs good routes and plays hard,” senior offensive tackle Kevin Mitchell, one of Aumiller’s best friends on the team, said. “Last year really bothered him. I don’t want to talk bad about old staff, but this staff has seen what he can do. We have a bunch of tight ends that can play. They are all going to be doing big things, but this year Jordan will definitely be a part of it.”
Kendrick, even though he’s competing with Aumiller, also is happy to see Aumiller being given a chance to play again.
“Jordan is my boy. Jordan is a great technician of the game. He takes everything the coach tells him and works on it every day,” Kendrick said. “He has a relentless attitude about himself. He never gets down. He never quits working. He just won’t give in.”