UK running back Derrick Locke epitomizes everything I like and everything I dislike about high profile college athletes.
Sometimes I don't like some of the things that Locke does. Sometimes I don't like some of the things that he says, and sometimes I don't like the way he acts.
When he walked off the football field in the closing minutes of the Cats Music City Bowl loss to Clemson last December, I thought that was a gutless, classless, selfish act. It made him look bad. It made the UK football team look bad. It made the entire University of Kentucky look bad. It showed a lack of class. It showed a lack of respect. It was a sign of a coward, not a competitor.
It was shortly after the Music City Bowl loss that Locke then told the media that he was seriously considering skipping his senior year at Kentucky to enter the NFL draft. I am never against anyone wanting to become a millionaire. I think it was just the way that Locke said it that was irritating. His reason to enter the NFL was all about "me...me...me". It almost sounded like playing a Kentucky was beneath him, and that he was only doing UK a favor by playing for the Cats. He came across as though he could care less about his teammates.
I love the way he plays football. I love watching him when he gets the football. He is as electrifying a player that has ever played at Kentucky.
Locke never takes a play off. His effort is as good on a 1 yard run, as it is for a 50 yard touchdown. He busts his tail every single time he touches the football. He leaves everything on the field. I love that about him.
I love his passion. It's contagious.
He is one of those rare players that when he gets the football, you never take your eye off of them because he know that he just might bust it loose for a long one at any time. The great thing is, he tries to bust it loose everytime. That takes effort. Extra effort.
In UK's 47-10 win over Akron, Locke rushed for a career high 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. He became only the seventh running back in UK football history to rush for over 2000 yards.
When the UK football team seemed to be a little sluggish to start the game, Locke brought his lunch pail to work. And maybe the most amazing thing about Locke is that it wasn't that long ago that he suffered what many thought was going to be a career ending knee injury. It takes a special kind of person to be able to go through all of the rehab and "bounce back" after a devastating knee injury like that.
He did it, and he's a better player than ever.
He can "back up" the talk.
He can "walk the talk".
He'll be ready to go down at the Swamp.
That's my kind of football player.