There was no magic formula that turned former Lexington Catholic receiver David Bouvier into a starting receiver and punt returner at Kentucky this season after he played a limited role in just six games his first four years with the Wildcats.
“I just made sure I worked. I knew it was my last year. I really wanted to work with all the quarterbacks and they were all so willing to throw with me all summer,” said Bouvier. “I trusted them. They trusted me. That’s where it started.”
Bouvier hopes it will end with one of the best Kentucky football seasons in recent years. He had a touchdown catch in UK’s first two games, including the historic streak-busting win at Florida, and has gone from an unknown player to most UK fans to a player who now sometimes gets recognized on campus. He’s also had a lot of congratulatory text messages from friends, including some he hadn’t heard from in years, since the season started.
“My parents’ phones have been constantly blowing up. They are super proud of me, and that really has made me happy,” Bouvier said.
Bouvier grew up dreaming of playing football at Kentucky. He knew if he ever got the chance, he would take it. The opportunity came when former UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown, now the head coach at Troy, came by Lexington Catholic to ask if he would like to become a UK walk-on.
“I immediately said yes. I told all the other people recruiting me I was going to Kentucky. I just couldn’t pass that up,” Bouvier said.
Brown also went to Louisville and made the same offer to Charles Walker, who also went from walk-on to starting receiver and punt returner last year.
“Coach Brown is a Kentucky kid and played for our rival Boyle County,” Bouvier said. “He just looks at guys that work hard and have a positive attitude. That’s what he has playing for him at Troy. You can tell they like playing for him. I knew I would like playing for him, too.”
Bouvier became good friends with Walker even though both were battling for the same opportunity to play.
"We would always be competitive with each other. We both wanted to play really bad, but he is one of my best friends. He did teach me a lot of things because he did get to play early. I am thankful he was my teammate and for what he taught me,” Bouvier said. “Once I saw he was doing it, I knew I could do it. I believed it from time I stepped on campus that if I was given a shot, I would make the most of it just like I know Charles did.”
Now Bouvier has become the role model and inspiration for other UK walk-ons.
Sophomore running back Dee Smith is making his mark on the scout team in practice hoping to eventually get a chance like Walker and then Bouvier did.
“It gets me fired up to see the success he’s having. I see guys ahead of me that started as walk-ons and then they kept working hard, staying down and they are reaping the benefits on Saturdays,” Smith said. “He (Bouvier) has been great. I see what he has done and hope that’s what I can do one day. He has talent, but he also worked so hard. Then once he got his chance, he took advantage in a way every walk-on dreams of doing one day.”