Kentucky saw something special in White County’s Ashely Lowery even before he leaped over a defender in full stride this past Friday in Cleveland.
Lowery, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior running back and defensive back, committed to the Wildcats back on August 7. But few others knew much about him before the video of his amazing run went viral on YouTube this week.
“Great athlete. Good young man,” White County coach Greg Seagraves said of his star attraction. “Tennessee looked at him closely. So did Georgia and Georgia Tech. They’ve all looked at him.”
But other than Kentucky, only Illinois, Air Force, UAB, Eastern Kentucky and Western Caroina have offered.
“He’s kind of a between guy,” Seagraves explained. “They’re not sure if he’s a safety, wide receiver, running back or linebacker. Kentucky called them summer and said they wanted him no matter what. They don’t know exactly what he’s going to be. But they know he’s an incredible athlete.”
So does everybody else now.
During a 45-18 win over West Hall Friday, Lowery was lined up at running back in the backfield when a shotgun snap went over the head of the quarterback. Lowery scooped up the loose ball and went around right end on a play that was designed to go to the left.
There Lowery encountered the only thing between him and the goal line some 20 or so yards away — West Hall defensive back Jacob Scarborough. For reasons Lowery will explain, he simply hurdled the diminutive defensive back, who was just beginning to break down into a tackling position.
“I thought he was going to cut me because I had run him over earlier in the game,” said Lowery, not surprisingly a high jumper and hurdler on the track team. “I didn’t feel like getting my knees hurt, so I just jumped.”
Lowery cleared Scarborough’s head without so much as a graze and rambled the rest of the way to the end zone. It wasn’t until well after the play that Lowery realized a flag had been thrown. Turns out it’s illegal to hurdle a defender.
“The whole team surrounded me, so it wasn’t until I got out of the end zone that I saw the flag,” said Lowery, who rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns on the night. “I wasn’t sure what they called.”
Said Seagraves: “It is the rule and the rule is for the safety of the kids. We may not think it’s right. But the rule is the rule and we’re going to abide by the rules. The rule is in place to protect the hurdler.”
Nevertheless, the play produced some amazing footage, which had been viewed nearly 30,000 times by Wednesday morning.
Among those to see the video were Kentucky’s coaches.
“I talked to them after practice Monday,” Lowery said. “Somebody had sent them a link. They were excited and said they hoped I was going to bring that to Kentucky.”
As for how the video ended up on the World Wide Web, that remains a bit of a mystery. But Seagraves has a theory.
“I didn’t put it out there, but I have two sons on the team and I think they might have gotten hold of it and put it on YouTube,” he said.
Meanwhile, the leap has brought Lowery some renewed recruiting interest.
“All of them are continuing to recruit me,” he said of his many suitors. “But I think I’m going to stick with Kentucky.”