By LARRY VAUGHT
When Freddie Maggard played football at the University of Kentucky, I was always impressed with his grit for the game and passion for the Wildcats.
That impression never changed when Maggard became a military man and I got to know him well during his time with the National Guard. He got me involved with the Border Bowl and other National Guard endeavors that I’ll never forget.
When he started his media career after retiring from the National Guard, we often talked about different things and he became a fan favorite with his football analysis for Kentucky Sports Radio.
When I needed a friend to lean on during a difficult period a few years ago, Maggard was there — just like he was for so many others.
I thought it was a perfect fit when he became director of player development for UK and coach Mark Stoops. It was a job he loved and knew he could make a difference in players’ lives.
I’ll have to admit, I didn’t get to talk to Maggard very often when he joined the UK staff. Before that, it wasn’t unusual for us to talk three or more times per week because when I needed UK football insights or a friend, he was always there.
I was shocked when I learned he was no longer on the UK staff. I really have no idea why. I just know that for him to leave that job it had to be a situation where he needs my prayers. His wife, Jennifer, is a really special person, too, and I’ve enjoyed being around her and seeing how she is so willing to help others, too.
Parents of several UK football players reached out to me after news broke about Maggard’s departure. All expressed appreciation for all he had done for them and their sons.
Whatever lies ahead for Freddie, I wish him the best. Whatever the reason he left UK, I know it was not easy no matter why he did it because no one bleeds blue more than him.
Freddie is a man I am proud to call a friend and always will be. I’m just hoping now I’ll get a chance to spend a lot more time with him again because I’ve missed that. Kentucky football will miss him but he won’t quit supporting UK football even if he’s not working in the football office because for the 30-plus years I’ve known him, there’s never been any questioning his loyalty to UK football.