By LARRY VAUGHT
Jeanne Bouvier wanted to come up with a word nobody had used to make a “good quote” about the feeling she had watching her son, senior receiver David Bouvier, make his first start for Kentucky Saturday.
“The best I can do is just that we are very, very happy for him,” said said.
Bouvier’s family should be. The former Lexington Catholic standout — he had a school record 215 catches for 3,156 yards, another school record — played in just one regular season game in 2016 but did have a 9-yard catch in the TaxSlayer Bowl. He was in four games last season, all on special teams.
Yet against Central Michigan in UK’s 35-20 season-opening win, he not only started at receiver and had the go-ahead touchdown catch but he was also the team’s starting punt returner.
“He just wants to help the team and always has. He knows he can do it,” Jeanne Bouvier said. “We were just delighted with how it turned out. It was kind of over the moon that he also scored a touchdown. Gunnar (Hoak) was on the money on that drive.”
Bouvier came to Kentucky as a walk-on because that was his dream school. His mother admits as time went on, she wondered if he would get to play.
“I had seen him play and knew what he could do but I know the coaches know more than I do. I know who the other players are and wondered when my son could be the best of that category he’s in,” she said. “You have to trust the coaches. He did. But I won’t lie. We were delighted to see him playing. It was a dramatic change from not playing much except in the spring games. Then to be starting at two positions was a little surreal.”
She said it hit all of them in UK’s final preseason scrimmage that he was going to be playing this year. Coaches had complimented him all preseason but the final scrimmage David Bouvier didn’t play much the second half. His parents were there but didn’t know why he didn’t play until the scrimmage ended.
“They let parents into those scrimmages as long as you behave. After the scrimmage, he told us the coaches pulled him out and said they needed him Saturday (against Central Michigan). That’s when we all knew they were serious about using him in games this year,” Jeanne Bouvier said. “We had thoughts of that in the past but it had never quite worked out for him. This year it has.”
It worked out great with his play in game one. Bouvier’s parents were sitting behind sophomore running back A.J. Rose’s parents and family. Rose had a 100-yard rushing game and scored two touchdowns. Rose estimated he had about 20 family members at the game but Bouvier also had his parents, sister and her fiancee, his girlfriend and her mother, and five friends who go back to playing flag football with him and graduated at Lexington Catholic with him.
“Us and the Rose family were all bouncing off the walls. He (Rose) scored two times, David got one. It was great on a personal level and great to see the team come out on top. Everybody was all smiles and David was certainly all smiles. It was all upbeat,” Jeanne Bouvier said. “I don’t want to look ahead, but I sure hope we go to a bowl and I think we will.”
Next, though, is the game at Florida. Jeanne and her husband, Joe, will make the trip just as they did in 2016 when their son didn’t get to play in Florida’s romp over the Cats.
“I’ll just say The Swamp is aptly named,” Jeanne said. “You are just drenched (from the heat and humidity). Their fans are a bit more challenging than some places we go. The student section is right by the player family section (for visiting teams). We didn’t get to see a lot of the game because of the way the students were bouncing up and down. But we are going back.”
Bouvier’s success on the field follows the academic success he’s had. He’s one of only 1,174 student-athletes playing football who have already earned an undergraduate degree and will play this season while pursuing a second degree. He’ll leave UK with a marketing and management degree along with a minor in communications. Kentucky teammate Adrian Middleton is the only other UK player to have already earned a degree and working on a second major.
Bouvier was an honor-roll student and member of the Beta Club, Service Club and Spanish Honor Society in high school and his mother, a “semi-retired” nurse at UK, says he has a personality geared to academic and athletics success.
“All the kids on the team work hard and not everybody gets the chance that David has this year,” his mother said. “I hope he can continue to make the most of it. He is a good combination of confident and humble. Not everybody can hit that note but he does and has always been able to do that. He takes pride in his academics, always has. He takes the same pride in his athletics and now we’ll just see how the rest of the season plays out. I am hoping for many more wins and no injuries just like every other mom on the team is.”