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By LARRY VAUGHT
Since they both feel Kentucky gave so much to them, Craig Yeast and Tim Couch thought it was only fitting that they combine to give something back to the state.
That’s why the two University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Famers will hold two football camps next month in eastern Kentucky.
The first is June 12-13 at Rockcastle County High School in Mount Vernon, and the other is June 26-27 at Pikeville High School in Pikeville, and both are for players in grades 7-12.
“I have been hounding Tim for a while about this. We truly feel we can do something together for years to come,” said Yeast, who now lives in Danville. “We feel we can team up and give something back to the kids of Kentucky. Hopefully some really good things will come out of this.”
Good things certainly came to Kentucky when Couch was quarterback and Yeast was one of his receivers. They combined for a 97-yard scoring strike against Florida in 1998 that is one of the most memorable plays in school history and helped the Wildcats reach the Outback Bowl that season.
Couch had camps when he played for Cleveland during his NFL career. Yeast has worked at camps and had his first camp at Harrodsburg last summer (and he plans to have another one July 13-15 at Alvis Johnson Field).
“We never really talked about anything like this when we played together,” Couch said. “But the last couple of years we’ve mentioned it and we finally just sat down and made it happen.
“I love working with kids. So does Craig. We want to give back to the community and state. I want to especially reach as many eastern Kentucky kids as we can and teach them a lot not only about football, but also about life.”
There will be some high school coaches working at the camp along with former UK players. Yeast has already talked to former Kentucky receiver Keenan Burton and also hopes to have former UK tight end Jacob Tamme involved if possible. Burton and Tamme will soon be starting their second NFL seasons.
“It’s going to be a skills camp. I will work a lot with quarterbacks, but I will be around helping everybody. So will Craig,” Couch said.
Yeast prides himself on his organizational skills, and his camp last year featured non-stop drills and activities for players. He says these two camps will be run the same way.
“Everything will be planned out. We are going to work and teach skills. They’ll see how to throw, catch and run. We will teach them how to cover and play defense, too,” Yeast said. “We have talked about different things we want to do and we have a good plan for our starting point.”
They both want the camp to eventually grow into a statewide event with camps in the north, central and west as well as more camps in the east.
“Our goal is to really expand it in the years ahead,” Couch said. “Next year, if everything goes well this year, we will get out to a lot more areas. We want to reach as many kids as we can. We just wanted to start small and see what could do and how many kids we could handle.”
However, they are also teaming with Operation UNITE, an organization that helps children and families in eastern Kentucky cope with drug-related issues.
“We really want to reach kids beyond football,” Couch said. “There are so many problems with drugs and pain pills in eastern Kentucky. We want an educational camp where they will learn a lot about football, but also about being a good person.
“I read about it and see the drug problems and things like that in the part of the state where I am from. It’s bad to have things going that direction. I don’t know how much one person can help, but if we just help one or two kids that certainly will be worth the effort.”
Yeast is just as passionate about that part of the camp as Couch is.
“I know it is a big problem in eastern Kentucky, but it is just as big in central Kentucky and everywhere else. We want to talk to kids about that,” Yeast said. “We will give Operation UNITE to talk about what they can do, but we are also going to tell kids things ourselves because we both feel very strongly about this issue.
“So while the focus will be on football, this camp will be about more than just football.”
Registration forms for the camp are at www.inthemomentsports.com. Other questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A look at Craig Yeast’s football career.
High school – Set a single-season scoring record at Harrodsburg in 1994 with 212 points when he ran for 1,629 yards and 28 touchdowns on 173 carries and returned two punts for touchdowns. Completed 43 of 84 passes for 739 yards and eight touchdowns.
College – Played at Kentucky and set a Southeastern Conference record with 208 receptions for 2,899 yards, the second best mark in SEC history at the time his career ended in 1998. Returned three kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns in 1998.
NFL – Drafted in the fourth round by the New York Jets in 1999 and played for the Jets and Bengals. Best season was in 2000 when he caught 24 passes for 301 yards for the Bengals.
CFL – Spent four years with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League and had 158 catches for 2,706 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2004 had 59 catches for 1,184 yards and eight scores and had 65 catches for 1,010 yards in 2005.
A look at Tim Couch’s football career.
High school – Set numerous national records at Leslie County High School including most touchdown passes (133) and passing percentage (75.1) for a season. Ranked as the nation’s sixth best high school athlete ever by ESPN.
College – Completed 795 of 1,184 passes for 8,435 yards, including 4,275 yards in 1998 when he was a Heisman Trophy candidate, and 74 touchdowns, including a 97-yard strike to Craig Yeast against Florida in 1998. Holds the NCAA record for completion percentage (80.3) for going 44-for-53 against Vanderbilt in 1998. Held records for most completions in a season (400) and career completion percentage (67.1) when he left UK.
NFL – First overall pick of the Cleveland Browns after leaving UK following his junior season. He had 64 touchdown passes and completed 59.8 percent of his passes (1,025 of 1,741) for 11,131 yards. Has rookie single-season passing records including pass attempts (399), pass completions (223), passing yards (2,447), touchdowns (15), and QB rating (73.2). Was the Browns’ leading passer from 1999-2002.