If you are a Kentucky football fan, you either know Freddie Maggard or know about him. The former University of Kentucky quarterback has become a popular football media analyst for Kentucky Sports Radio, the UK Radio Network and others since his retirement from the National Guard.
Most of us regard Freddie as one of the nicest, most caring people we have ever been around. However, his sister — Samantha Burton of Corbin — says her brother has his moments just like anyone else.
“He tries to be Mr. Macho, but he is not,” said Burton, a second grade teacher at Corbin Primary School. “Freddie is probably one of the most giving people I have ever known. He will give to others before his family. He knows we love him and we are stuck with him. All the time people say to me, ‘Bet you get great tickets to UK football.’ We don’t.
“People say, ‘Your brother is so sweet and got us tickets and got us on the field for a game.’ Me, I was sitting home keeping my brother’s kid so he could go to the team. I am the nanny. My son goes to UK. You think Freddie gets him anything. No. My daughter lives there. Nothing. We get zilch. No T-shirts, no tickets. Nothing.”
Not that she minds. Her children are grown. She kept her brother’s son, Clay, when he was little and now keeps Ellie — “and she is something else” all the time.
Freddie Maggard was a threesport standout at Cumberland High School. His sister said he was a “little prima donna” but got put in his place on the day of his high school graduation by their mother.
“We lived between the foot of Pine Mountain and Cumberland. We were called river rats,” Burton said. “At that time I was married and had a little house right at the foot of the walking bridge that took you to Cumberland High School. My mother asked to do a reception for him at my house. He was mad because mom and dad invited friends.
“He thought he was the captain of the city of Cumberland. He was too cool. He was sitting there like a big puffed up toad. He wasn’t talking to anybody and kept looking at the clock. Mom was very gracious and said, ‘Freddie Wayne can I see you in the kitchen just a second.’ I could hear mom but not see him. The next thing I heard was a smack like no other.
“Then here they came back and mom was just smiling and he had four fingerprints across his face. She blasted his face for him not being polite. He ran his mouth in the kitchen to her, but after that he was very nice.”
Maggard admits that’s a true story and says he “should have known better” than to smart off to his mother. He also says his sister is a “real hoot.”
However, that was not the only “spanking” that the friendly, caring, loving Freddie Maggard we all know now got from his mother.
“He used to talk in church all the time. Mom was always in the choir. We would sit in a pew and she warned us to be good,” Burton said. “He was talking. I wasn’t.”
Apparently their mother agreed with Burton’s memory.
“She kept singing but left the choir loft and I knew it was not going to be good,” Burton said. “She walked to the pew and took him outside the church and wore his tail out. They came back in the church, she slammed him back into the pew and went back to the choir loft. He didn’t talk any more that day.”
Today he talks a lot and when it comes to UK football, no one does it better. He studies football religiously and provides insights and analysis no one can match.
“Even I am surprised by the numbers and statistics he rattles off when it comes to UK football now,” Burton said. “I never saw that coming. I call him Rain Main (after the movie role Dustin Hoff- man played of a high level autistic man who could rattle off statistics, memorize numbers and calculate square roots in a flash) because of all that stuff he spouts off so quick.
“But he loves it. I have never seen him happier. At his age he has found what he was meant to do. He really is a good guy and seeing him enjoying what he is doing so much right now really does make me happy.”
During his time at Kentucky, linebacker coach Chuck Smith got to work with Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan, Avery Williamson and Winston Guy, who are all now playing in the NFL.
Smith remembers Williamson, who now plays with the Tennessee Titans along with Woodyard, as a “really high character” guy like Woodyard and Jacob Tamme, the former UK tight end who now plays in Atlanta and was coached by Smith in high school.
“He was eat up with football,” Smith said. “Avery did all the little things right. He was a little bit stiff when he got to us. I told him he had to get more flexibility in his hips. Every day after practice or during the offseason, he would spend time stretching and flexibility.
“It really paid off for him. He was determined to be where he is at now. That’s just the kind of kid he was and that’s the kind of kid that has a long career in the NFL. He’s smart, knows how to work and has a burning desire to keep getting better.”
Smith says Trevathan, who won a Super Bowl with Denver and is now with Chicago, was simply gifted.
“He’s probably the most natural athlete of them all. He had such great instincts,” Smith said. “He had so much talent and we knew it. Now he’s really starting to shine in the NFL and make a name for himself.”
Kentucky fans didn’t need CBS-TV announcers to tell them how poorly the Wildcats played in Saturday’ loss at Florida. Some called it “embarrassing” for the Wildcats. Another one said UK was more like a “junior college team” and statistics justified that feeling.
Yet coach Mark Stoops did not fault his team’s effort that much.
“I didn’t notice anybody rolling over, but the guys — we certainly didn’t have a lot of energy, that’s for sure,” Stoops said.
Sophomore linebacker Jordan Jones had a different take after Kentucky gave up 564 yards and 28 first downs and 45 unanswered points. Combine that with the 34-0 run Southern Miss had in the opener, and that was 79 straight points allowed by the defense in two games.
“Sometimes when we’re down, a lot of people on our team just tend to quit and think it’s over, and I don’t think it’s over until it’s actually over,” Jones said after the game. “I think as a whole team we all need to work on fighting back and not giving up and realizing the game’s not over until it’s actually over.
“I think we need to put in more input, watch more film and have a little more swag to us and not give up. Because a lot of times when the offenses score a lot of points and they’re up by a lot of points and our offense isn’t doing very well, people on the defense, and the offense, too, just tend to feel sorry for themselves.
“So as long as we realize we got this and keep fighting back like we’re supposed to — it’s football — then I think we’ll be good.”
Maybe but in the last 25 games, Kentucky’s defense has surrendered 400 or more yards 15 times. Eight times, it’s 500 plus.
Jones’ comments reminded me of what Kayaune Ross, a junior college receiver, said after UK blew a 35-10 lead in the first game and lost 44-35 to Southern Miss.
“Yeah, I feel like we did coast with the big lead at times… it just hurts. We have to do better. There’s not more to it than that. To lose like this hurts,” he said.
Ross took his official visit to UK when the Cats blew a big lead in the final game and lost to Louisville when a win would have made the Cats bowl eligible.
“I felt the energy and part of team then. That hurts. That’s a game you had to win. Again, this hurts. I will say that over and over. We just have to execute better and do better as a unit. You just can’t do stuff like this and accept it. There are no excuses for it,” Ross said.
Maybe Stoops should pay a little more attention to what players like Jones and Ross have to say, because they seem to see alarming tendencies in this team that the head coach is missing.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell got a tremendous boost for his program that he needed when Harlan County junior standout Blair Green verbally committed to the Wildcats last week.
She averaged 18.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season and is ranked as one of the nation’s top juniors.
She also had scholarship offers from Tennessee, Louisville, Vanderbilt, UCLA and Dayton. Annual power Connecticut had also shown interest but had not yet offered a scholarship.
“Blair started getting recruited early. Going into her eighth grade season, she got her first offer from Vanderbilt,” said Harlan coach Debbie Hoskins Green, who is also Blair’s mother and a former UK player as well. “So this recruiting has been going on a long time. It was starting to get a little stressful. Over 50 schools had made contact or offered her a scholarship.
“It came down to Kentucky and UCLA. She has been to Kentucky so many times and like most Kentucky kids loves Kentucky. She loved UCLA but she knew it would be hard for her parents to get to games and she also felt like being in the Pac-12 nobody back home would be able to keep up with what she was doing.”
So after Mitchell made a home visit — the first home visit Blair had — she was ready to commit and did.
“It had got stressful for her and she knew what school she wanted to go to, so she committed,” Debbie Green said.