Among the 71 student athletes graduating from the University of Kentucky is one extra-familiar face: Avery Williamson. After playing football for the Wildcats from 2010-2014, Williamson was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. After four years with the Titans, the former Cat now suits up for the New York Jets.
His recent contract with the Jets is good for three-years and $22.50 million, including $16 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $6 million. But that wasn’t enough for Williamson – he wanted a degree from the University of Kentucky.
“I decided to tell myself I was going to do it after my fifth year [in the NFL],” Williamson said. “I didn’t want to wait too long.”
Williamson returned to Lexington Friday afternoon, where he walked across the stage to receive his degree in Integrated Strategic Communications.
“I feel like education is very important, and you never know what situations life may throw at you. If I do want to continue with broadcasting, what could be the difference between me getting the job and somebody else? It might be that I have a college degree. This is going to set me up for the later part of my life.”
Drafted in the 2014 @NFLDraft ?? Four years with the @titans ?? Currently a LB with the @jets ?? Now a @universityofky GRADUATE! We are so proud of you, @AWilliamson54!#BBN #WeAreUK #SeeBlue pic.twitter.com/1XtXjW8VrA
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) May 2, 2019
After completing his fifth year in the @nfl, LB @AWilliamson54 returned to UK in the off-season to finish his degree in integrated strategic communication. Today, it was all worth it. Congrats, Avery! #WeAreUK
? ? ? pic.twitter.com/xyLootwrGz
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) May 3, 2019
The transition from (and balance between) professional football to the classroom has to be a rocky one, but Williamson found a way to make it work.
“In class as an NFL player – it’s definitely a different perspective than what it was when I was here as a freshman or sophomore in college,” Williamson said. “It was awesome to come back and be able to complete it.”