UK Football: Tennessee native might be Kentucky LB Williamson's biggest fan
Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson, left, instantly impressed Christen Ferrell with his ¿contagious¿ smile. He was a pallbearer at her father¿s funeral and had even turned him into a UK fan¿even though he was a long-time Tennessee fan. (October 9, 2012)
“He was a senior at Milan High. My younger sister was a sophomore. They were close friends,” said said. “My parents wanted for me to get to know Avery because he was going to be going to UK in the fall and I was only a hour away from Lexington. He didn't have any family near Lexington, so I wanted to be there for him.”
“She was a huge help to me when I got here. They are coming up to the Georgia game, and it is good to have support from people like that back home. It helps so much,” Williamson said.
Ferrell says it was not hard to be impressed with Williamson, who ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in tackles per game with 10.7.
“I instantly loved him. He was so down to earth and had the most contagious smile. He's the brother I never had. Everyone loves Avery. He was the all-star standout in Milan, and I knew he would be successful," Ferrell said.
She was right, too, as Williamson leads Kentucky in tackles and is among the top tacklers in the Southeastern Conference.
“Avery is like a celebrity to the town of Milan,” Ferrell said. “He's very friendly and courteous. He has an innocence to him that most 20 year olds don't have, but I'm kind of partial.”
“I was a UK fan before Avery, but I had never attended a game before he started playing. Another Milan boy, Christian Coleman, is a UK Wildcat and is going to make a name for himself, too. We are very proud of him as well.”
Williamson says is it nice that “everybody knows me” back home.
“Everybody is proud of me and supports me. It is pretty cool,” Williamson said. “I try to tell a lot of young guys to be positive and make smart decisions and don’t be scared to do the right thing. They listen to me.
“I will be back home in December. I don’t get to go home as much because I am busy up here, but when I do go home I see other high school guys. I go up to the school to talk to them just to give them some support and know they can do the same as I am doing. I stay in touch with former teammates, too. A few of them came up watch the game with South Carolina. It was good to just see them and stay close.”
Ferrell, who is a registered nurse, now works in Jackson, Tenn., and has not been able to attend as many UK games as she did when she was working in Bardstown.
“I'm a die-hard UK fan. I love UK football and, of course, UK basketball.,” she said.
However, she’ll always be a Williamson fan.
“My Dad was the biggest Milan Bulldog football fan. He loved Avery,” Ferrell, 29, said.
That presented a bit of a conflict for him since her father, Charlie Reagan, was also a big Tennessee fan.
“The first and only UK game my Dad attended was Avery's freshman year. Georgia played at Commonwealth. My dad went at halftime and bought a UK cap and came back to the stands wearing it,” Ferrell said. “Of course, that's illegal, unheard of for a UT fan. After the game he would only allow for Avery to sign it.”
He never got a chance to see Williamson play again because the following summer he was robbed and murdered at his place of business in Milan.
“We had his favorite football boys be the pallbearers at his funeral. They wore their jerseys. Avery and Christian Coleman drove down for the funeral and Avery was a pallbearer. That meant so much to my family,” she said.
It meant a lot to him as well.
“He was special. He supported our team. He was a true Bulldog fan,” Williamson said. “It really hurt me to know that he got killed like that. I felt like I should go back and help out with funeral. It wasn’t easy. It was pretty difficult. Still it will never be the same not having him in the town.”