By LARRY VAUGHT
When he walked into Cambridge Place to visit with residents during their Super Bowl party last week, former Kentucky defensive lineman Jacob Hyde was wearing an orange/blue ribbon supporting the day of remembrance for the shooting in January at Marshall County High School.
Hyde is doing an internship as a guidance counselor at Jessie Clark Middle School in Fayette County and got the ribbon as part of the school’s statewide show of support for the incident at Marshall County where two 15-year-old students were shot and killed and 18 others injured.
“Sometimes it’s just crazy what happens,” said Hyde, a Clay County native. “You never know what is going through a kid’s mind or might possess him to do this. It could be a number of things. We will never know until he says what it is that made him do what he did.
“But I will say this — you can’t worry about things you have no control over. We freak out over things and worry about things but we can’t worry ourselves sick over things we have no control over. I pray for Marshall County and the people who were hurt and affected by that as well as that kid and his family. I know his family is hurting. But there are things you just cannot control.”
That same attitude helped him persevere at Kentucky. He never got to play as much as he wanted. His fifth year he played in only two games. However, if you saw Hyde, he never complained. He always had a smile and an encouraging word for teammates or anyone else.
“I didn’t have any control over what happened. I made the best of my opportunities. That was a big factor for me. People around me kept me up. Maybe you can add some years on to your life if you don’t worry about the things that you cannot control,” Hyde said. “Just that attitude and the Good Lord above me kept me going.”
He had been to Cambridge Place, a skilled nursing facility in Lexington, before to visit with residents. However, this was his first time back at the facilty since his playing career at Kentucky ended.
“They are very nice, very loving people here and it’s always good to give back,” Hyde said. “Just because I am done (with football) does not mean I am done giving back.”
Count on that.
He’s finishing his Master’s degree this semester and will then head “wherever the Good Lord takes me” to use his social work expertise. He’s leaving UK with absolutely no regrets, too.
He knows how many others from Clay County — or anywhere in eastern Kentucky — would have been thrilled to have spent five years on the UK football team and leaving UK with both undergraduate and graduate degrees. That’s part of why he was crying on a video many UK fans loved when he was asked before his final regular-season game against Louisville what playing UK had meant to him.
“Playing football, going to school, doing an internship … it was hard. But I loved it all,” Hyde said. “Not many people where I am from — or in that whole region — get a degree in general. I was one of the fortunate ones to get all of mine paid for. I leave college with not one degree, but two, and I am healthy. And I got two bowl rings. I helped the team. Why would I not be happy?”
Hyde’s weight reached 320 pounds at UK, a routine number for a SEC defensive lineman. Now he’s trying to shed about 50 pounds before graduation in May, so he’s spending a lot of time at the UK football facility doing cardio work.
“I see those guys (returning players) working and I believe in what they are doing. It kills me to watch them work and me not be in there with them,” Hyde said. “You play this game for 14, 15 years and all of a sudden you wake up and you are done, it is a rough thing.”
That’s because his competitive drive does not stop. He’s considering a coaching career or maybe doing cross fit later.
“I’ve got to have something where I can compete and have a goal to work for,” Hyde said. “I was blessed to play football as long as I did. I know I was lucky. That’s why I like giving back to folks like those at Cambridge Place. That’s why you support everyone impacted by the shooting at Marshall County. If you get a chance to help, you do it.”
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