By Ashley Scoby
Twenty-one years ago, Bud Dupree’s godmother had a dream.
Her godson, named Alvin Dupree by his parents, was playing football in the dream. But instead of ‘Alvin,’ everyone was calling him ‘Bud.’
“She told my mom and my mom just went with it,” Dupree said about how he got his nickname. “That’s just how it happened.”
Now, Dupree is playing football at a high enough level to be projected to go in the first couple rounds of the NFL Draft. He’s accumulated 50 tackles (8.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks, 5 quarterback hurries and a blocked kick so far during his senior season.
And although his godmother dreamed that he would be playing football one day, Dupree himself never would have dreamed that his final college season in the sport would come so quickly.
“It came real fast,” he said. “I remember when I was a freshman, all the upperclassmen were telling me it would fly by and I kind of brushed it off, just thinking they were talking. But now that I’m in their shoes, I’m telling the freshmen everything’s gonna fly by. This has season has came by in a blur. I can’t believe I’m a senior, and last game in Commonwealth. It’s real crazy. Been through a lot of down times and fun times.”
This year’s senior class has indeed been through a roller coaster: From their freshman seasons when they knocked off Tennessee for the first time in 26 years, to two straight 2-10 seasons, to being part of the Mark Stoops re-build of Kentucky football this year, the ones who will be honored this weekend during Senior Day ceremonies have been part of a unique journey.
Seniors to be honored on Saturday include linebacker Grant Aumiller, wide receiver Javess Blue, tight end Steven Borden, linebacker Tyler Brause, defensive tackle Christian Coleman, safety Eric Dixon, defensive tackle Mike Douglas, linebacker Tre Dunn, Dupree, offensive tackle Teven Eatmon-Nared, offensive lineman Max Godby, offensive lineman John Gruenschlaeger, safety Ashely Lowery, offensive lineman Darrian Miller, linebacker TraVaughn Paschal, wide receiver Demarco Robinson, tight end Ronnie Shields, linebacker Miles Simpson, defensive end Za’Darius Smith, fullback DJ Warren and cornerback Nate Willis.
And Dupree has certainly been the headliner in that class. He started for the first time at Kentucky when he was a freshman. He’s missed one game throughout his entire career. And he’ll soon be one of the highest NFL Draft picks in recent Kentucky football history.
“He’s a guy that is going to be remembered around here for a long time and is a guy we want our players to aspire to be like,” said defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot.
The 2014 class will not go down as the most successful one in Kentucky history, by any means. But its members will be remembered for sticking through the rough seasons and wanting to be part of a turnaround.
“They’re a special group,” Stoops said. “They’re a very good group to coach. They’ve been a lot of fun. They really have. I think they’ve really helped us set the tone and change the culture and be great leaders and really trying to do everything they can to help us win.”
Taking down No. 17 Georgia in their final game at Commonwealth Stadium this weekend? Now that would be a dream come true for Dupree and the rest of his senior class.
But after an “undisciplined” game against Missouri last week, nailing down what went wrong, and executing to perfection – which is what Kentucky will have to do against the Bulldogs – will be a challenge.
Defending Georgia’s power running game will be top priority for a Kentucky defense that’s struggled against ground attacks this year. Offensive consistency has to shape up. And simply doing the jobs assigned to them will be what the players have to focus on.
“The big thing we’ve got to do this week is read screens because last year when we played Georgia, they hit us with a lot of different screens and we weren’t prepared for it,” Dupree said. “Basically we’ve got to be prepared for it this year and just make sure we execute our assignment that Coach gives us and play with our hair on fire.”
Ashley Scoby is a senior journalism major at the University of Kentucky. She has reported on the Wildcats for wildcathoops.com, vaughtsviews.com and kysportsreport.com as well as for newspapers in Danville and Glasgow.
Courtesy of KyForward