Bart Williams was thrilled that former University of Kentucky football standout Lynn Bowden agreed to be part of the Somerset Youth Football League summer camp.
Bowden had already been picked by the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL Draft but returned to Kentucky and was a huge hit at the camp.
“As he was leaving last year he said he would be glad to come back and do it again,” said Bart Williams, director of the Somerset Youth Football League. “I thought he was just being nice. But when we started planning we reached back out to his management team just in case he did want to come back. He got back immediately that he would absolutely love to come if we could work out the day.”
With no date in mind, it was easy for Williams and league officials to come up with a date — June 19 — to suit Bowden’s schedule.
“It was so easy. I will be honest, I was not sure what to expect when I reached out again this year,” Williams said. “If he was from here or the camp was in Lexington, it would be easier to understand him doing this. I am just tickled to death that he wanted to do it and we could work it out.
“He’s not asking for anything more than last year, so obviously it is not about the money with him. He was so engaging with the kids last year. He was out there laughing and going through drills with them. He was so sincere and nice.”
Bowden moved from receiver to quarterback midway of the 2019 season and rushed for 1,235 yards and 11 scores while also throwing for 330 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning pass in the Belk Bowl. He also had 348 receiving yards and 200 kickoff return yards to earn consensus All-American honors. He was also named the Paul Hornung Award winner as the nation’s best all-purpose player.
He was drafted in the third round by the Raiders but was traded early in the season to Miami. Bowden’s first significant playing time came in Week 14 against Kansas City when he had seven catches for 82 yards. He had four receptions for 41 yards against Cincinnati.
Kerri Brooks’ 9-year-old son attended the camp last year and will be back in June along with his 6-year-old brother.
“He loved it. Since his dad and I are involved in the planning, he has heard about this year’s camp from the beginning and he’s really excited,” Brooks said. “Lynn was awesome last year. He could not have been more down to earth with the kids. He will fly here and take a couple of days out of his schedule for what is not a lot of money to him. We are so thrilled to have him back.”
Registration for the camp is open at somersetyouthfootball.com/footballcamp until June 4th unless the camp fills up sooner. It’s open to incoming first through sixth graders. The camp is free for all Somerset Youth Football League players and $40 for the 50 spots available for non-league participants.
Last year due to COVID the camp was open only to Somerset Youth Football League players. Organizers wanted to keep the camp small so participants would have a chance to interact with Bowden.
“It would be great if we could do more, but we will cap out at 200,” Williams said. “Lynn is so genuine. We don’t want kids to feel rushed and not have a chance to meet him.”
Several Somerset High School players will help with the camp as well as coaches from the youth league, middle school and high school.
“We will divide the kids up by grade but last year Lynn just went from group to group and got in the drills. He ran the obstacle course. He was just like a big kid,” Williams said. “He lined up and ran passing routes against a couple of high school kids. He threw football with the kids.
“It was so refreshing. There was none of ‘I am not going to do that’ from him. He was all about the kids. It just speaks volumes about him and what kind of young man he really is that he is willing to come and do this again for our kids.”
Former Kentucky safety Mike Edwards, who won a Super Bowl recently with Tampa Bay, called it a “big time pick” when Washington selected UK linebacker Jamin Davis with the 19th pick in the NFL draft last week.
That made Davis just the sixth UK defensive player ever drafted in the top 20. The others were Bob Gain, fifth, 1951; Lou Michaels, fourth, 1958; Art Still, second, 1978; Dewayne Robertson, fourth, 2003; and Josh Allen, seventh, 2019.
It’s going to pay off in a big way, too. He’s in line for a four-year contract worth almost $14 million including a $7.4 million signing bonus. All his money his fully guaranteed with a fifth-year option available for the team.
A lot of NFL draft analysts gave high marks to Washington for picking Davis. Here’s what some noted:
Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report — “Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis is the type of prospect scouts dream about when they evaluate the position. Davis’ athletic traits are nearly off the charts.
“First, he’s built exactly how the position should look with a chiseled 6-4, 234-pound frame. At Kentucky’s Pro Day, the linebacker’s 40-yard-dash times ranged from 4.37 seconds to 4.49, according to reports. Either way, he can fly. To further prove that point, he posted an outstanding 42-inch vertical jump and 11-foot broad jump.
“The workout numbers show how explosive Davis is. It falls on his next position coach to fully realize his potential.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports — “Washington’s defense just got better. This is one of my favorite picks of the draft. He will be a special player on a talented front seven.”
Chad Reuter, NFL.com — “Davis’ athleticism won over the Washington Football Team. He is able to cover a lot of ground in space and tracks down ball-carriers with intensity.”
Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic — “(Washington coach) Ron Rivera knows linebackers, and he got a good-looking prospect in Davis (6-foot-4, 234 pounds). Davis should fit well as a run-and-chase linebacker in Washington’s zone-heavy scheme. He has elite athletic traits and gives Washington another talented player in its front seven.”
Ben Rolfe, Pro Football Network: They had their choice of several defensive options, and they took a chance in selecting Jamin Davis. Although there is uncertainty surrounding Davis, his upside is huge. That upside means he is yet another of the A grades in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.”
Rob Rang, FOX Sports — “A former no-nonsense linebacker himself, Ron Rivera knows the position as well as anyone. Davis entered the year barely a blip on the radar of most scouts, but his stock soared for the Wildcats last season, and his potential is sky-high. The selection fills a clear need for Washington, especially given all of the stellar running backs in the NFC East.”
Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow remembers a 6-3, 205-pound Davis coming to UK as a freshman and watching him blossom physically and mentally at UK.
“If anybody said they thought he would be a first-round draft pick when he got here they would be lying. I thought he was a NFL prospect. He was a guy that was not selfish and waited his time. He played special teams and then he started getting playing time and just took off. I think he will have a big-time NFL career.”
Kentucky senior setter Madison Lilley has been named a finalist for the 2020 Honda Award for the sport of volleyball along with Logan Eggleston of Texas and Dana Rettke of Wisconsin.
The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics.” The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.
Lilley, an Overland Park, Kansas native, was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, American Volleyball Coaches’ Association national player of the year and Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament. The only other UK player ever to do that in any sport and also win a national title was Anthony Davis during the 2011-12 basketball season.
In NCAA play, Lilley averaged 13.8 assists per set, had six aces in UK’s five matches, and was second on the team with 3.35 digs per set. Lilley helped UK hit above .300 in all five matches.
Since 2012, UK has had a National Player of the Year in seven different sports: Baseball, A. J. Reed; men’s basketball, Davis; men’s indoor field, Tim Duckworth; women’s outdoor track, Kendra Harrison; rifle, Mary Tucker; and softball, Abbey Cheek.
“The player of the year took her totally by surprise. She was not expecting that and we were kind of in the same boat,” Lilley’s father, Brent, said. “Even the morning after they won (the national title) we woke up and asked ourselves, ‘Did they just do that and Madison really have that level of success?’ ”
Lilley’s mother, Kim, said the championship was a dream come true for her daughter and teammates.
“She made some pretty miraculous plays during the tournament,” Kim Lilley said. “Sometimes she makes difficult plays look so easy that it even amazes us.”
Madison Lilley said before the title match that she would not take a do-over COVID season at UK. Her mother said she had given some thought to play professionally overseas.
“She has to spend some time investigating what may be out there,” Kim Lilley said. “We want her to see what is out there and do what will make her happy but it is going to be hard topping the national championship.”
The PGA Tour returns to central Kentucky in July for the Barbasol Championship that will be played July 15-18 at Champions at Keene Trace Golf Club and volunteer spots for a variety of tasks are open.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of any PGA event,” said Dan Koett. “They allow us to give so much more back to charity because we do not have to use paid staff. The volunteers are amazing and take their jobs so seriously.
“If you have an interest in maybe being just feet from where some of the top golfers on the planet are hitting shots, this is it. You do not have to be a golfer or even a fan of golf to be a volunteer. We have a job you can do.”
Volunteer registration is now open at barbasolchampionship.com. There is a $50 volunteer package that includes a Dry-fit golf shirt, cap, one round of gold at Keene Trace, lunch on days worked and tourney access on days not working. A $35 volunteer package has everything except the round of golf.
“For a small charge you are part of an exclusive club of volunteers that makes this event possible,” Koett said.
He also said the pro-am on July 14 will still offer free admission. Each foursome will have a one pro play the front nine and a different pro the second nine.
“It’s really a great family day. You almost feel like you are breaking the rules because you are so close to the players,” Koett said. “You have a lot more access than you would once the tournament starts.”
Koett said the Barbasol Championship also plans to honor the memory of former University of Kentucky golfer Cullan Brown who passed away in August after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, a year earlier.
Brown played in the 2019 Barbasol Championship on a special exemption and finished in a 44th-place tie with a 9-under par finish. Koett said Brown’s infectious personality made a lasting impression on everyone connected with the Barbasol Championship.
“We were so fortunate having him in our event in 2019 and are looking for the right way to honor his memory but we definitely will be doing something special,” Koett said.
Quote of the Week: “Thank you Larry! We really appreciate you sharing and telling our story. We have nothing but great things to say about Kentucky staff and the entire BBN! We have nothing else to say at this time,” Nolan Hickman Sr. when I asked him if he had any comment on his son, Nolan Hickman Jr., deciding not to play at UK after signing with the Cats in November.
Quote of the Week 2: “He picks up movement in the run game really quickly. He works hard and is a big guy already. He’s going to be a 300-pound force He is very quick, very smart. very coachable. He’s really going to be good,” former UK offensive lineman Landon Young on UK freshman offensive lineman Jager Burton.
Quote of the Week 3: “What makes Kentucky unique is the people. It’s the coaches and the players. It’s the Big Blue Nation. Everything around Kentucky revolves around the people. It’s the life that this community brings that is different than any other place I have been,” Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White on Big Blue Nation.