Jon Sumrall is right where he belongs.
Fifteen years after he played linebacker for Rich Brooks’ Wildcats, Sumrall returns to Lexington to coach Mark Stoops’ inside linebackers.
“The University of Kentucky means a lot to me,” Sumrall said. “I had the opportunity to play here. To be able to wear the UK logo on my chest gives me a little extra juice. I’m already a firey, emotional coach, but it gives me a little extra oomph and excitement. That had a definite pull.”
His background helps him blend into the program seamlessly, while his style reflects the Cats’ head coach.
“I coach with a chip on my shoulder,” Sumrall said. “The fact that I achieved [as a player] is a big deal, because I probably didn’t belong at this level, truthfully. I prided myself on what to do, being able to communicate clearly and confident, and try to do things the right way.”
How he played is how he coaches, which sometimes requires him to play.
“He’s got more energy. He’ll run behind you during a play,” Chris Oats revealed. “If you make a mistake, he wants you to go 100 miles per hour.”
The fiery energy Sumrall carries with him from the field, into the homes of recruits, is inspired by a quote from Bear Bryant.
“If you’re not fired with enthusiasm, you’re going to get fired with enthusiasm.”
Many of the lessons Sumrall took with him into coaching stem from his time playing for Coach Brooks. The mentality that made Kentucky successful in the mid-00s is not much different than what the program plays with now.
“I see a lot of Coach Brooks in Coach Stoops,” Sumrall said. “They both built their program here similarly. They weren’t looking for an overnight quick fix. They did things blue collar, tough, hard-nosed, just kind of consistent daily-process driven,” he continued.
“Coach Stoops and what he’s accomplished here and what he’s building here speaks for itself. The opportunity to be a part of that and help build upon what they’ve been doing, couple that with the opportunity to come to where I played, was something I just couldn’t turn down.”
A fiery, passionate personality leading a group of talented inside linebackers, once Sumrall gets rolling on the recruiting front, you’ll understand why he is the perfect fit for the Kentucky football team.