Hummel chasing the ultimate goal in his father’s footsteps


Senior Tanner Hummel (22) tries to keep possession of the ball. University of Kentucky men’s soccer team defeated University of Evansville in Lexington, Kentucky on October 24, 2018. Photo by Sukruthi Yerramreddy | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

The desire of reaching the pinnacle of a national championship drives college athletes to work hard and play hard day in and day out. With more than 200 NCAA Division I programs vying for that dream, the competition is cutthroat and very few players will reach that goal.

If you ask UK men’s soccer defender and team captain Tanner Hummel, though, his family knows a thing or two about winning championships.

Tanner’s father Joe played defender, just like his son, for Clemson University’s 1987 national championship team. Joe even had a short stint playing professional soccer for the Atlanta Lasers after graduating in 1990.

Tanner said that hearing about his father’s success drove him to try and achieve the same outcome as his father.

“I’ve always wanted to follow my dad’s footsteps,” Tanner said. “You always want to grow to be like your dad and kind of follow his footsteps.”

Even though his dad won a championship three decades ago, Tanner said that his dad’s success was always around him at home.

“I would always go into his bathroom to get some of his cologne. I would open the drawer and see all of his rings that he had from Clemson,” Hummel said. “I always saw the national championship ring and I would say, ‘Oh man, I really want to win one of these one day.’”

A Kennesaw, Georgia, native, Tanner came out of high school having played club soccer for Georgia United’s United States Soccer Development Academy team and winning Defensive Player of the Year at his high school in 2012.

When it came time to pick a college, Tanner said he knew picking a school like UK would help achieve his championship dreams.

“I think the biggest thing is like, when I saw the team train on my recruiting visit, I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Tanner said. “This is a great place and there’s a lot of potential professional players and I figured that I would be a great fit here.”

When Tanner stepped foot in Lexington as a freshman in 2015, he immediately helped make an impact. The Cats won the C-USA regular season title that year and Tanner was named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team.

Despite achieving what he called a “great milestone,” Tanner said that title wasn’t enough.

“I’m a competitor. I’ve always wanted to do more and be the best,” Tanner said. “The talk around here is that we just want to keep doing better. We want to keep make something happen that has never happened for Kentucky.”

As the only four-year starter on UK’s young roster, Tanner’s leadership on defense helped lead the Cats to the C-USA regular season title and the conference tournament title this season. Tanner said he believes that his team has shown it has what it takes to win a national title.

“I do believe we can win it. But we have to go game by game,” Tanner said. “I think if we keep doing the simple things right on our team, then the sky is the limit.”

Though Tanner does want to follow in his dad’s footsteps, he said he also wants to mold a legacy that will leave a lasting impact.

“I would love to be just like my dad but, you know, everyone wants to do more,” Tanner said. “I want them [Tanner’s younger teammates] to learn from that kind of experience and hold themselves to a standard where they will say, ‘He [Tanner] is gone and we need to pick up the slack and do something just like that.’”

Whether or not Tanner rides out of his college career with a championship, Tanner wants to see his younger teammates take Kentucky to unprecedented heights.

“I want them to do better than I did. I want these freshmen to win three conference titles, go to the Sweet 16, Final Four, all of that. I want them to win multiple national championships,” Tanner said.