Jay Boulware speaks on what he brings to the table at Kentucky


Graphic made for the hiring of Jay Boulware as the University of Kentucky football team’s running backs coach and special teams coordinator. Graphic by UK Athletics.

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky running backs coach and special teams coordinator Jay Boulware spoke to the media for the first time since being hired just four days prior on Friday.

Boulware spoke about what he brings to the table at Kentucky and why it was so important for him to join the staff in Lexington as quickly as he did after being hired.

“I just feel like being here right now provides me with the opportunity to do some of the things (I want to do),” he said. “What initially prompted me (to come to Kentucky) was obviously my relationship with coach (Mark Stoops), but after I started to do more research, it fired me up. As a running back coach at this university, I feel like you ought to be able to (recruit) one of the best backs in the country and that’s what I want to do.”
Boulware elaborated on the recruiting front and what kind of running backs he wishes to bring to Kentucky, breaking down what he looks for in a rusher.

“I want to recruit, not just guys that are five-stars that people think are good, but guys that I put my eye on and (guys that I) think can play at the type of level that I’ve come accustomed to playing,” he said. “I like big guys that can take a pounding. I’m talking physical. I want some speed to be able to finish the run (and create) that home run threat. I was watching the Georgia game and kept thinking, ‘If a running back just breaks one, that’s all it’s going to take. Then you’re right in the thick of that thing and have an opportunity to beat what is the top team in the (SEC) East right now.’ That fires me up to be able to have that opportunity to recruit that player to be able to come in here and provide what we need to get out of that stadium with a W.”

Boulware is not entirely an outsider to the Kentucky running back room either, having come to Lexington from the Pittsburgh Steelers, which many Wildcat fans with a keen memory will know is the home of UK career rushing leader Benny Snell Jr.

Snell Jr. was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft after leading the Cats to their first ever Citrus Bowl victory.

Boulware’s experiences with the Steeler, as well as watching 2022 running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. fight to break his records, helped play a role in shaping his vision of what the running back room at Kentucky should be.

“I think it speaks for itself,” Boulware said when asked what he tells recruits Kentucky has to offer running-back-wise. “What this university has done is tremendous in the years that Coach Stoops has been here. The trajectory of this program is continually climbing.”

While excited to speak about the running back side of his job, Boulware also emphasized the passion he has for the special teams side as well with the immense talent he’s coached at other schools.

“I coach all of it. I coach our snappers, I coach our punters, I coach our kickers as well as the core,” he said. “My long snapper at Auburn is still in the NFL playing for the Chargers, his name is Josh Harris, I got kickers in the NFL, a kid by the name of Cody Parkey, I’m well aware of how to go about getting the things accomplished that we’re looking for.”

He continued, talking about how important special teams is for, not just the teams themselves, but the athletes on the field as well.

“Over 50% of the personnel on the teams are making their living playing special teams,” Boulware said. “If you want to be a better player and have a chance to get to the NFL, you have to start honing in on your fundamentals and techniques and special teams.”

Boulware also expressed a desire to serve not just Stoops and the rest of the coaching staff, but the entire Kentucky roster as a whole, citing that desire as his main goal in taking the job and as one of the most valuable things he learned from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

“I’m trying to help these kids realize their dreams, that’s my goal,” he said. “I want to give the young men energy, I want to be able to feed into their lives every single day and provide whatever they need because I’m here for them 34 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m here to serve them. I want to be an outlet or resource for them to come to and help them develop and realize their dreams.”

While Boulware won’t be with the team in Nashville for the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31, he intends to stay in Lexington to be part of the recruiting process and help prepare the team for the season to come. 

With the Wildcats being floated around as a potential landing spot for several running backs currently in the portal, it’s safe to say the new coach has gotten right to work at Kentucky and will continue to look to further integrate himself as a core piece of the program.