Last year Lamar Thomas was on the other sideline during the battle for the Governor’s Cup. A man known for his mouth, unfortunately he didn’t let it fly when discussing the rivalry today. In fact, he was quite gracious.
“Coach Petrino gave me a great opportunity, to even be here,” Thomas said. “I was at Hampton University when he gave me an opportunity and I’m very grateful for that. Knowing those kids, a lot of them I recruited, you know, it’ll be a little emotional.”
One of those players he recruited is now the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. When Thomas first met Lamar Jackson, he knew he was capable of greatness.
“He’s just one of those kids that a competitor,” Thomas said. “I definitely envisioned everything that’s happening for that young man. We had long conversations about how great he could be and it’s coming true for him and I’m very happy for him and his family.”
Even though it will be emotional before the game, once the game starts, it’s all business.
“It’s a game. It’s just like my first game in the ACC was against the University of Miami. I had a job to do. I’m here now. It’s worked out for both teams and it’s been a great experience. I can’t wait till Saturday.”
Pleasantries aside, Thomas knows “it’s been heated.” When the two teams needed to be separated two years ago near midfield at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Thomas was right in the middle of the action.
“I think I was standing beside Coach Petrino. You know, he was my boss,” he shrugged his shoulders. “He was my boss. Him and Tom Jurich signed the checks at that time. I had to do what I had to do.”
On Saturday Thomas’ receivers will have to do a lot to return the Governor’s Cup to Lexington. The Louisville defense is nationally ranked No. 7 in total defense and No. 26 in pass defense. Todd Grantham’s unit is talented and features plenty of misdirection, something Thomas is familiar with.
“I was there for two years, so hopefully I learned some things.”
At the conclusion of the game, Thomas will keep his head held high regardless of the outcome. He’s proud of his former players, and he’s proud of what his current players have accomplished in his first season at Kentucky.
“I’ll shake hands before the game and I’ll shake hands after the game. It is what it is. Life is going to go on regardless.”
Watch the entire interview with Thomas below. Even though he didn’t talk any trash about Louisville, he did talk trash about one of his former Louisville assistants, Terrell Buckley. While at Miami, he scored on the Florida State defensive back, something he didn’t let Buckley forget when they played Mississippi State this season. “Remember? I beat you.”