football Edit

Former walk-on has been Cats' surprise MVP of camp

David Bouvier (33) came to UK as a walk-on from Lexington Catholic High School four years ago. On Monday, he was placed on full scholarship.
David Bouvier (33) came to UK as a walk-on from Lexington Catholic High School four years ago. On Monday, he was placed on full scholarship. (Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated)

Given a dozen chances, it's unlikely that anyone would have offered the correct answer for the player Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran on Tuesday dubbed the MVP of the Wildcats' fall camp to date.

Maybe not even 85 chances, which is fitting because the player earning the praise was not one of UK's scholarship players when practice opened two weeks ago.

"The one guy who's really shown up to me is David Bouvier," Gran said. "You wanna talk about a guy making plays... As I go back this whole camp right now, he's our MVP. That young man is getting it. He's making plays. He's playing with energy. Just love that young man."

New UK receivers coach Michael Smith concurred: "In my eyes, he's had the best camp."

That's high praise for a 5-foot-9, 168-pound receiver who is entering his fifth year on the team without catching a pass in an official game.

The UK staff, however, consistently praised Bouvier throughout the spring, and on Monday they rewarded his effort by placing him on full scholarship along with fellow walk-ons Zach Johnson and Miles Butler.


"Feels weird being on a full scholarship now," Bouvier said after Tuesday's practice. "Such a blessing. I was so happy for Miles and Zach, especially. They've earned it. They've worked so hard. They're a definition of what a true SEC football player should be."

As for his own merits, Bouvier said: "I guess I just try to make sure that I bring it every day. I try to have a good mindset going into practice. Even if I make mistakes, I'm going to make them full-speed. If I have a bad play, I'm not going to think about what happened, I'm going to make the next play."

But, most importantly, "There's no way around hard work."

He has proven that on and off the field, where he is also a three-time Dean's List honoree and three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member.

The former Lexington Catholic standout has been a tremendous asset to UK's inexperienced quarterbacks -- Gunnar Hoak and Terry Wilson -- as they compete for the starting job in camp.

"He does his job every single day," UK quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw said of Bouvier. "He just gets open and continues to make plays."

Hinshaw said that kind of demonstrated performance has made Bouvier one of the leaders on this year's team, even though the soft-spoken wideout rarely says anything on the field.

"He doesn't say all that much, but he's one of our leaders," said fellow receiver Dorian Baker, who called Bouvier a "baller," perhaps the highest praise he could receive from a teammate.

"David Bouvier is a warrior," Smith added, "a guy that I have a lot of admiration and respect for because of the way that he approaches the game. He approaches everything in life that way."

In addition to being in the hunt for snaps at the slot receiver, Bouvier is also one of the main contenders to take over the punt return duties held last season by another former walk-on, Charles Walker. He's been compared on many occasions to his predecessor for his sure hands and fearless mindset.