Freddie Maggard loves UK football more than anyone I know. And while he put that love to good use as the team’s quarterback, as the voice of the UK Network’s pregame show and as a KSR football writer and podcaster, his passion and loyalty is now being used as an official member of the UK football staff: Director of Program Development.
During yesterday’s UK football women’s clinic, Maggard broke down his role on the team, including the three initiatives he has implemented and expanded during his first few months on staff.
He began by explaining how the process works, which is largely due to the support Maggard receives from his fellow staff members. Mark Stoops is the only coach in the country to dedicate an entire day in the summer to player development. Rather than lifting weights or going on runs, all of the players spend their Wednesdays with Maggard to prepare for their futures.
Maggard’s focus is simple: players have four years of college to prepare for the next 40 years of their lives. That’s where the #4for40 hashtag came from, and it’s a mantra the team has made its own.
The player development team helps the players with resume writing, job interview training and internship assistance, all of which will help these men be successful after they give up the game of football. Several Wildcats were placed in non-football internships this summer, including quarterback Gunnar Hoak.
— Gunnar Hoak (@GunnarHoak12) July 27, 2018
During the first three weeks of Maggard’s programing, he brought in various professionals to hold seminars with the players. Here’s what they learned.
Social Media and Branding
During the first week, Jim Cavale of the marketing software INFLCR spoke with the players about building their personal brand and making smart decisions on social media. Cavale, who also works with the men’s basketball team, gave advice such as including their real name in their Twitter handle.
“What if you throw seven touchdowns and 800 yards in a game and your Twitter handle is ‘boo boo boo boo,’ or something like that? People go to look you up and can’t find you, well then you just lost followers,” Maggard explained. “Your brand took a hit. Every time you hit ‘send,’ your brand either goes up or goes down.”
Another huge part of Maggard’s presentation revolved around teaching the players financial responsibility and how to save their money properly. As Maggard pointed out, it’s common for college kids to have no idea what to do with their money. But while most 18 to 21-year-olds can scrape by without figuring it out, it’s different for athletes receiving scholarships, living expenses and, hopefully, an NFL salary.
Greg Couch, Tim Couch’s brother and the president of Meridian Wealth Management, spoke to the players about saving and investing their money.
“Our players ate this up. Our players absolutely loved this because they did not know the different ways to save money,” Maggard said. “When I came to UK, I didn’t know the difference between a checking and a savings account. I didn’t even have a bank account. Again, we’re preparing for those next 40 years of their life.”
The next week, the team met with a representative from the NFL Players Association, who explained what it means to be a financially-responsible player in the NFL. Of the small percentage of players who make it into the pros, the average time spent in the league is just there years. And of those who make a paycheck playing football, five out of every six go broke three years after they hang up their helmet. Maggard explained how this happens:
“$462,000 [approximately] per year league minimum. Ok, have you heard of the word taxes? You know what your NFL [players association] dues are? $17,000 a year. When you make it to the NFL, you’re gonna buy mom a house. So let’s take that out. You’re gonna have to insure that house. You’re gonna buy a car… So $462,000 league minimum a year, and you’re already down to less than $100,000. Oh yeah, and you’re gonna hire an agent.”
It’s a sad reality for so many football players, but Maggard and the rest of the player development team are working tirelessly to properly prepare Kentucky players.
When Freddie Maggard asked the team what they would be doing if it weren’t for football, many of his players responded that they’d like to have their own business. Because of this, Maggard worked to get successful businessmen to come in and talk with his team. But the speakers weren’t just successful businessmen. They were also former Kentucky players.
Three former Wildcats – Ron Robinson, Derrick Ramsey and Reggie Smith – each took a turn with the football team, offering advice and encouraging players to be ready for a multitude of career opportunities.
Robinson is now the CEO of a successful transportation corporation in Indianapolis. Ramsey is now the Secretary of Education and Workforce development for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He serves on the governor’s cabinet, manages 1,100 employees and boasts a $2.1 billion annual budget. Smith is a civil engineer who served as a senior project manager for UK’s new $200 million student center.
Former LB Reggie Smith had a message for our team in our weekly #4for40 series: “Play here, live out your dream and get a great education for the future. Make sure and have a plan for life after football and attack that plan with work!” #GetUp pic.twitter.com/vTKjTKPq5c
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) July 26, 2018
It’s truly impressive what these three men have accomplished after football, and Maggard is confident his player development program will encourage more players to do the same.
In case of an Audible
Player development doesn’t end when a player graduates or decides to leave school early. Freddie Maggard isn’t there for four years – he’s there for 40.
“We have players that graduate, play a year or two, play in Canada. They’re 24, 25 years old. What now? We’re bringing them back to work with us. And we go back and have an accelerated program,” Maggard said. “They come back for the Audible Program, and we get after it. It’s very serious business because they’re 24, 25 years old – it’s time to get on it; it’s time to get busy.”
JoJo Kemp, who will be an assistant coach at the University of the Cumberlands this fall, is one player who came back for the Audible Program. The UK staff also hired former Wildcat Courtney Love as a graduate assistant; Love was not present at the women’s clinic because he was taking the GRE exam for grad school.
Freddie Maggard’s presentation was engaging, factual and most of all, important. Because while the BBN loves for our players to thrive on the football field, we also want to support them off the field. UK’s Player Development program is unlike any other school’s, which shows the dedication and passion Maggard has for his team now and for the next 40 years. Go Cats.