A lineman’s Turkey Day



When members of the UK football team’s offensive and defensive line collide with opponents, the crash of helmets and pads creates a recognizable sound. On Turkey Day, the sound is all too familiar among the behemoth linemen, too.

“I tend to watch what I … nevermind, you know what, I just eat until I get full,” said senior defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, who weighs 306 pounds. “If I’m full, I’ll stop, if I’m not, I will keep going.”

The linemen are encouraged to eat most always. Only those linemen on UK’s version of Weight Watchers have to watch what they eat — or face the consequences — said 293-pound junior defensive tackle Mark Crawford.

Lumpkin is in the clear, as is Crawford and the team’s heaviest starter, 329-pound sophomore guard Larry Warford, to go on an eating splurge on Thursday.

The general consensus among these players and food connoisseurs was that the staple food of Thanksgiving, turkey, was best when the optimum level of moisture was reached.

Lumpkin had one word for the turkey his dad prepares: “Greatness.” But he said if his dad doesn’t follow a particular frying procedure, the turkey tastes “nasty and bland.”

Warford said he’s content if in addition to turkey, he has his macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls and his aunt’s “real good” baked beans. Lumpkin said he also likes ham and stuffing, while Crawford took a pass on other main-meal morsels and spoke of his love for sweet potato pie.

Dessert isn’t as easy a choice for Warford, who has one aunt who makes an apple pie, and another who makes a vanilla pudding with wafers. For Lumpkin, dessert is a bittersweet irony because he said he likes banana pudding, but hates bananas—so, he’s left with pudding.

The team will have a dinner together before Thursday, and for those players far from home, coaches and players who live locally will invite them over to their houses for Thanksgiving.

Lumpkin, who pointed to freshman offensive tackle Stephen Duff’s ability to eat 100 chicken wings, said the offensive line will easily win the battle of the waistline.

“They eat too much, it’s ridiculous,” Lumpkin said. “I’m not putting 100 wings in my stomach.”

Warford was quick to correct Lumpkin and said Duff’s personal record actually stood at 102 wings in one sitting.

“After you get to 100, does it even matter anymore? You won,” Warford said. “But I could beat the d-line by myself.”

Since the game against Tennessee falls two days after Thanksgiving, the linemen will have to hold back a bit.

“You don’t want to eat too much and then when you’re at the game you’re throwing up turkey on the sideline,” said Crawford, who believes his teammates will have no trouble getting back to business for their rivalry game.

What would a win over the Volunteers mean?

“That’d be sweeter than some sweet potato pie,” Crawford said.