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Cats looking to send off Williamson, seniors with another Tennessee win

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Avery Williamson addresses the crowd at the unveiling of Commonwealth Stadium designs on Monday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Avery Williamson addresses the crowd at the unveiling of Commonwealth Stadium designs on Monday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Avery Williamson has been the face of Kentucky football, so it only made sense that he would represent his team at the unveiling of the designs for the new Commonwealth Stadium.

There, Williamson drew praise from nearly every speaker. University of Kentucky Athletics Committee Chair Dr. C.B. Akins, Sr., praised Williamson for being the model student-athlete, while Mark Stoops said he wished he had a team full of players like the star senior linebacker.

Now, Williamson will play the final game of his collegiate career on Saturday.

"It'll be pretty crazy, just knowing that it's going to be my last time on the field," Williamson said. "I really don't know how I'm going to feel. Like today, I realized it's my last Tuesday practice, so it's definitely different knowing I'm going to be moving on to something else."

Though he won't be putting on the uniform again after Saturday's game against Tennessee (7 p.m. ET on ESPNU), Williamson's legacy will last. Not only is he 10 tackles away from 300 on his career, but Williamson has also played an important role in a foundation-setting season.

"I feel like I was a part of building the building blocks of this, call it the new Kentucky, I guess," Williamson said. "This new era. I really feel like these coaches are going to get this thing turned around."

In his first year on the job, Stoops has consistently called on Williamson to be the most visible example for the kind of commitment needed to succeed.

"You've heard me talk about that, but when you walk in the door, when you walk into these meeting rooms and into the practice sessions and things, just how you go about your business and attention to detail," Stoops said. "That doesn't mean he's perfect all the time. We all make mistakes and all that. But he's just got a great attitude, and it's very important to him."

Williamson has helped shaped the highest-rated incoming recruiting class -- potentially the next generation of UK stars -- with his vocal leadership and example. Stoops sees the results.

"I don't want to single out guys, but I really feel good about a lot of the younger guys," Stoops said. "And a lot of our guys are starting to get it, but I feel good that the younger guys are willing to step out there and be more vocal, and I feel like there's a very good unity with some of the young guys, and even some of the guys that are redshirting."

Williamson hasn't been the only veteran helping his younger teammates along that path.

Clearing space for Williamson to make plays all season have been defensive tackles Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph. They have only played better as the season has worn on and they expect Saturday to be emotional.

"Exciting, sad and fun all at once," Cobble said of Senior Night. "I've been thinking about this day since the day I signed, really."

Cobble had to wait a year after originally signing to come on campus, while Rumph attended prep school for two years before finally arriving. That will add even more meaning to their final game.

"Just going through the adversity that I went through in the past in the two-and-a-half years of prep school and trying to get eligible and the whole situation of trying to get here and then finally getting here and four years just flying by," Rumph said. "It's like, man, where did the time go? I remember still getting a call saying, 'Hey, you're accepted.' And now I'm on my way out."

With it coming to an end, the seniors couldn't be any more motivated to close with a win.

"Oh, we're desperate," Rumph said. "But at the same time, we're just trying to hold it together and stay focused on the task at hand and just make memories this last week."

For every member of this class, one the best memories from the time spent at UK was made the last time Tennessee visited Commonwealth Stadium. It was then that Matt Roark quarterbacked the Wildcats to victory and was carried off the field on his own Senior Day.

Tennessee enters the season finale with a 4-7 record after a last-minute loss to Vanderbilt last weekend.
In scouting the Volunteers, Stoops sees shades of his own team.

"They are a team I think a lot like us in that they play some games extremely hard trying to do anything they can to get a win," Stoops said. "They are a team that's getting better and their program is moving forward as we all know. I think similar to us in a lot of ways, and I think I respect the way they coach them and the way they play them."

Williamson, having grown up in Milan, Tenn., shares that respect, but also can't think of a better way to put a final stamp on his career than to beat his home-state team.

"I know people on the team and everybody back home is a UT fan so it would really be great to go ahead and beat them again like I did my sophomore year because when I went home I got a lot of praise for that," Williamson said. "So it would be real good to beat them."

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I have to say I have totally enjoyed this team. Yes like the rest of us that would love to see more in the win column!!......Having said that I see the ground work I feel the changes in attitude. Gentlemen thank you for all of your efforts. That is where it starts for me....heart, attitude, and stick to it until completion comes shinning through. Personally my eyes have seen glimpses of Kentucky Football the new era the new dawn. I say it is in capable hands. I want to thank each and everyone of the seniors. May God be with you down the road and bless each of you in your future endeavors. And last but not least, thanks to Coach Stoops here's looking forward to Big Blue Nation next year have a wonderful and safe holiday season. And have a great off year of preparation for nest season........Go Big Blue Nation!!

I think it will make them come along faster if coach Cal knows he can get valuable minutes with Polson coming off the bench. Then he can talk to the Harrison brothers on the bench where it's much better than while their game on the court. I also think it will make develop as a team. When they buy into this no team in the country will want to play with our Wildcats. And they will. It's just around the corner, we can see flashes of what they can do. By the end of the season they will be bad news for anybody who has to beat them to get into the tourney. We will send a lot of teams to the N.I.T. Besides that trophy is going to stay in the state of Ky for a good while

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  • Scott Lemaster: I think it will make them come along faster if coach Cal knows he can get valuable minutes with read more
  • Rick Squires: I have to say I have totally enjoyed this team. Yes like the rest of us that would love to read more