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An Interview With Paintsville’s Last Wildcat

Article written by:On3 imageFreddie Maggard


In 1987, Joey Couch was the last Paintsville Tiger football player to pledge his allegiance to the University of Kentucky.  Couch was an All-State linebacker who also played tight end and fullback.  On the basketball court, Joey scored over 2,000 career points.

In the 1980s, tiny Paintsville High School produced several major college student athletes: Tony Mayes (UK), John Pelphrey (UK), Joey Couch (UK), Keith Adkins (Notre Dame), Mike Minix (Vanderbilt), and Lance Daniels (WKU). That incredible run may never be repeated by a Class A, public school.

I recently spoke to Couch and asked him a series of questions regarding his decision to sign with the Wildcats as well as his Kash Daniel prediction.


Q. Why did you sign with UK?

Couch: Because that’s our University. The state’s school.  I wanted to be a Wildcat. I wanted to play where Cawood Ledford would call my name on the radio.

Q: What other schools did you consider?

Couch: Navy, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky were my final three choices.  I was Vanderbilt’s number one defensive recruit.  Coach Watson Brown was the only coach to recruit me as a defensive lineman.

Q. What was your best UK moment?

Couch: Indiana game goal-line stand.  IU came in ranked with Heisman Trophy candidate Anthony Thompson.  Craig Benzinger, Ronnie Robinson, and I tackled him on the 1 yard line on 4th down to seal the win late in the 4th quarter. Other great moments were beating Georgia my freshman and junior year. 

Q. What is your take UK Football in 2015?

Couch: I went to CWS and saw updates. Amazing. Everything is coming together at the right time.  The program is getting ready to take the next step. UK is finally serious about football.

Q. What do think will happen Saturday?

Couch: Selfish part of me wants to see him be a Wildcat.  I know what kind of kid he is, he’s a good player with high character.  He’s got leadership qualities and extremely coachable.

Q. Will Kash Daniel commit to Kentucky?

Couch: My gut says yes, but really I have no clue.  Again being selfish, I want to see him play in Commonwealth Stadium, not on television.  Just my gut feeling, but who really knows.  Totally his decision. I will be happy for him wherever he goes. In the 80’s, Paintsville people had a lot of reasons to go to Lexington to watch their native sons play. It’s been 25 years too long.

Joey Couch was a two-time All SEC DT.  While an undersized defensive lineman, for a career Joey had over 264 tackles and 12 sacks.

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