Senior Day full of emotions, good and bad



Procrastination had never felt so sweet for Ricky Lumpkin.

The fifth-year defensive tackle had just played his final home game for UK, a 38-20 win against Vanderbilt on Senior Day that clinched bowl eligibility for the fifth straight year.

But it wasn’t the bowl game on his mind. It was his last trip around the Commonwealth Stadium field as a player.

“They had to drag me off,” Lumpkin said. “I was talking to fans, talking to my parents, giving my girlfriend a hug. I was trying to prolong my stay out there.”

Lumpkin was one of 16 seniors who participated in Senior Day festivities and were greeted by giant cutouts of their own heads. The sendoff brought multiple players to tears.

“I didn’t cry until after the game,” running back Derrick Locke said. “Until I realized that this is it. This is the last time I get to play in this stadium.”

For Lumpkin, the finality hit him before the game, as he stood with his family on the field.

“I thought I wasn’t going to cry, but I did,” Lumpkin said. “Just standing there with my mom and my dad, and realizing I will never put on a helmet, a uniform, my cleats, to play in front of 70,000 UK fans again. It hurt.”

The moment was shared between players and coaches.

“I was just really proud to be a part of this team, and to share it with the guys around me who have been here as long as I have,” senior quarterback Mike Hartline said.

Hartline was applauded when he was substituted out with the game well in hand.

“It was nice to get a round of applause from everybody but also to hug (the coaches),” Hartline said.

Lumpkin knew the team had been through many emotions over the years. He also knew the fans shared those with the players.

“I don’t want to stop playing here in front of our fans because they’re great,” Lumpkin said. “We’ve been through a lot together. Close wins, big wins, upset victories, and really down losses. I’m going to miss it.”

Neloms to miss first half against Tennessee

Sophomore cornerback Martavius Neloms will miss the first half of UK’s next game against Tennessee Nov. 27.

Neloms and Vanderbilt receiver Udom Umoh were both ejected immediately after exchanging blows during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game.

“We will not be that team,” Phillips said. “We will not be that team that has personal fouls. We will not be that team that’s throwing punches, and I’m disappointed in that. We will get that corrected.”

Regardless of who started the altercation, Phillips said the personal foul was inexcusable.

“It’s really ridiculous for a guy to retaliate after somebody has thrown a punch on him,” Phillips said. “We will not tolerate that from our players here at Kentucky. It’s not what we’re about.”

Phillips said it is the player’s responsibility to avoid losing control of his emotions and committing a negative act.

“(Neloms) mentioned, ‘Am I supposed to let the guy punch me?’” Phillips said, recounting a sideline conversation with Neloms after the incident. “Yes, you are. You are supposed to let the guy punch you all day. Then from whistle to whistle, you punch him with your pads, not your fists. So, yes, it was building up all day. He cannot get frustrated with that. He’s got to continue to play.”

Neloms has played nine games, recording 48 tackles and two sacks.

“He’s one of our better players, one of our better tacklers,” Phillips said. “We cannot afford to have Neloms on the sidelines with us.”